CCS Awarded $350,000 National Archives Grant

CCS Awarded $350,000 National Archives Grant

The Center for Constitutional Studies receives $350,000 research grant from National Archives to digitally model state constitutions.

Utah Valley University (UVU) announced today that its Center for Constitutional Studies (CCS) received a National Archives grant of $350,000 to expand its student‐led digital modeling of state constitutional conventions in partnership with the University of Oxford on the Quill Project.

UVU students and faculty began partnering with the University of Oxford on the Quill Project in 2015 to digitally model the United States Constitutional Convention. The new $350,000 grant will help Quill complete its “50-in-10 Project,” which aims to digitize the constitutional conventions of all 50 states by 2030. Seven states have been completed, with plans for 10 more in the near future.

Developed at Oxford’s Pembroke College, the Quill Project digitizes records of constitutional conventions and other formal negotiations and enters them into the project’s proprietary software platform. Students at Pembroke College and UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies have provided significant research for the project.

“With constitutional literacy and civil political discourse on the decline, the Quill Project’s goal to model every state’s constitution seeks to help reverse this trend by making the deliberations of every state’s constitutional convention available to citizens, students, jurists, and scholars,” said Matthew Brogdon, senior director of the Center for Constitutional Studies. “This National Archives grant is a major achievement for CCS and will help us further our goal of bringing this vital resource to the public.”

The Quill Project gives people a way to visualize the complexity involved in creating a negotiated text such as the U.S. Constitution, recreating what it was like to be present in the room and witness what was being discussed at the time of the text’s creation. It focuses on what constitutional drafters said and wrote, along with applicable stories about them in period newspapers, timelines, photos, political agendas, policy issues, and accompanying debates.

The Center for Constitutional Studies at UVU was established in September 2011, and since 2015, has worked closely with Dr. Nicholas Cole, senior research fellow at Pembroke College, to model the creation of the federal Constitution; the Bill of Rights; the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; and the six states’ constitutions. The partnership illustrates UVU’s commitment to engaged learning, with UVU students fully immersed in Quill Project research both in Utah and at Oxford.

“The Center for Constitutional Studies and its students have been instrumental to the testing and development of the Quill Project,” said Cole. “I am elated by the awarding of the National Archives grant, which will help us continue our research into these historical and critical proceedings and documents, making them accessible to everyone from college professors and K-12 educators to historians, politicians, and the Supreme Court.”

The National Archives grant follows a $374,000 National Endowment of the Humanities grant that UVU was awarded in 2020. That grant underwrote research by UVU students into the history of state constitutions in Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.

About the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University

Established in 2011, the UVU Center for Constitutional Studies (CCS), a nonpartisan academic institute, promotes the instruction, study, and research of constitutionalism. The center engages students, scholars, educators, leaders, and the public on constitutional issues where political thought, public policy, religion, law, history, education, and economics intersect.

Conferences, university curriculum, faculty scholarship, a robust research agenda, strategic partnerships, and K-12 initiatives are among the many touchpoints that allow the center to prepare citizens with the broad understanding of thought and practices critical to lasting constitutional government, ordered liberty, and the rule of law.