Celebrating 10 Years of SAH Archipedia

Jul 24, 2023 by Catherine Boland Erkkila

A decade ago, the Society of Architectural Historians and University of Virginia Press first published SAH Archipedia, the authoritative online architectural encyclopedia of the U.S. built environment. Since then, over a million visitors have enjoyed the essays, entries, and images of sites all over the country—from prehistoric to contemporary, vernacular to high style, landscapes to urban settings.

SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings screenshot

Screenshot of the original SAH Archipedia website


At the time of its initial launch:

SAH Archipedia content was solely derived from the 12 published volumes of the Buildings of the United States (BUS) series: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Metropolitan Boston, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

The full website was available only through library subscription and SAH membership, and 100 of the most representative entries were available to the public via SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings, an open-access version of the site.

Upon its publication, SAH Archipedia was designated a “We the People Project” by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for its role in encouraging and enhancing the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.                                                                         


Cincinnati Museum Center (Cincinnati Union Terminal), photograph by Richard W. Burry - Volunteer Photography Group

By 2017:

SAH Archipedia
expanded its coverage to the entire United States through the State 100 Project, funded by an NEH grant. SAH Archipedia editor Gabrielle Esperdy and managing editor Catherine Boland Erkkila worked with over 400 authors who contributed a total of 3,500 entries.

The project’s scope was so large that the SAH Archipedia editorial team continues to publish submitted content from this grant.

Screenshot_SAH Archipedia

The new, open-access edition of SAH Archipedia

In 2019:

Another NEH grant funded the design of a new website and content management system. For the first time SAH Archipedia became open access, bringing SAH’s mission and scholarship to the general public.  

Designed by Patricia Searl of University of Virginia Press, the new authoring platform streamlined the publication process and the redesigned website allowed all of the rich content, including essays, to be fully discoverable.

This grant also funded the creation of thematic essays, as well as updates to some of the earliest BUS content and the addition of teaching resources.

SAH Archipedia’s next stage of development:

New BUS books will be derived from SAH Archipedia content, authored in the content management system, and sold with an e-book edition linking to expanded entries.

As the U.S.-based content continues to grow, SAH and UVA are looking forward to expanding to global content within the next decade.


Piedmont Charcoal Kilns, Wyoming, Photograph by Richard Collier, Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources

We invite you to explore the rich content of SAH Archipedia, which contains over 22,000 peer-reviewed entries to date.

If you are interested in contributing to SAH Archipedia, please join us for an SAH Member Meetup on August 8, 2023 at 12 pm CDT.