About the VAF

During the past few decades, interest in ordinary architecture has grown rapidly and in diverse directions. Scholars and field professionals apply the term "vernacular architecture" to a range of structures including traditional domestic and agricultural buildings, industrial and commercial structures, twentieth-century suburban houses, settlement patterns and cultural landscapes. The Vernacular Architecture Forum was formed in 1980 to encourage the study and preservation of these informative and valuable material resources.

In both membership and methods, VAF embraces the value of multidisciplinary interaction.  Historians, designers, archaeologists, folklorists, architectural historians, geographers, museum curators and historic preservationists contribute substantially to the organization.  Just as wide ranging are the interests and research subjects of our members. 

If you are interested in learning more about vernacular architecture and in building associations with like-minded students, scholars, and professionals from all parts of the continent and the world, then you should join the Vernacular Architecture Forum today.

You can learn more about the VAF as an organization by exploring these pages. We encourage the formation of regional chapters. VAF members have the opportunity to form regional chapters, and to join our e-mail discussion list.  Members also benefit by receiving our well-regarded journal, Buildings & Landscapes, the VAN a quarterly e-newsletter, and discounted conference registration.


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  • 02 Feb 2016 7:31 AM | Amber Wiley

    Call for Proposals: New "Field Notes" session at VAF, Durham.

    What new and interesting fieldwork finds should we know about? What sites have you studied that push our definition of fieldwork? How are scholars of vernacular buildings and landscapes experimenting with new methods to suit our increasing range of material?”

    The VAF is organizing a new session at the Durham, North Carolina conference (Saturday June 4, 2016), and we look forward to a lively shared conversation about research in the field. If interested in participating as a speaker, please submit a short paragraph (add pictures, if helpful) describing a proposed 5-8 minute talk. We especially encourage graduate students to share their dissertation projects. Participants in this session will be listed in the conference program.

    Please send a 1-2 page c.v. and a short (500 words max.) proposal by February 15, 2016 to Gretchen Buggeln gretchen.buggeln@valpo.edu. Contact Gretchen with any queries.

  • 04 Jan 2016 1:50 PM | Amber Wiley

    Call for Co-Editor of B&L

    The Vernacular Architecture Forum is seeking nominations for a new co-editor for its acclaimed academic journal Buildings & Landscapes: The Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. The new co-editor will be named roughly one year in advance of assuming the position to allow for a smooth transition.  The editor designee will be expected to follow the editorial process beginning in the summer of 2016 and begin a four-year term as co-editor in June of 2017.

    B&L’s two editors work closely with the publisher, the University of Minnesota Press.  The terms of the two co-editors are staggered so that every two years one editor rotates off.  New co-editors are appointed by the President of the Vernacular Architecture Forum with the approval of the VAF’s Board of Directors.  The co-editors hold a joint position on the Board of Directors of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.
    Buildings & Landscapes
    appears in print twice a year as an attractive, large-format journal.  Significant attention is paid to the physical appearance of the print journal, which features abundant black-and-white illustrations and high quality paper.  Digital on-line access is available through JSTOR, as is a digital supplement that allows enhancements including color illustrations, 3D models, film, and audio.  Working with the University of Minnesota Press, the co-editors pay close attention to editing and image quality.  Future opportunities include continuing to refine and expand the digital edition of B&L available through JSTOR, which may include experimenting with new media.

    B&L editors oversee all aspects of publication: soliciting scholarly contributions (through conferences, word of mouth, and other means); vetting submissions by working with peer reviewers; preparing manuscripts for publication by working closely with authors; coordinating copyediting and page proofs with the University of Minnesota Press; working closely with authors and the B&L image editor on image permissions; and arranging with the review editor for the timely submission and editing of reviews.   

    The ideal editor will have a strong record of previous publications; a history of involvement with the VAF; editorial experience; and a keen interest in collaborating with other scholars. Institutional support – from the candidate’s academic institution or professional organization – would be beneficial, including funding to support travel to conferences (to solicit contributions to the journal), funding for editorial assistants (such as graduate research assistants), and flex time during the academic year to facilitate editorial work.

    Nominations (including self nominations) should include a 1-2 page statement of interest that outlines the candidate’s background and preparedness for this position along with a current CV.  Please send nominations (as a single .pdf) to Anna Andrzejewski at avandrzejews@wisc.edu by June 1, 2016. Inquiries and questions are also welcome.

  • 12 Sep 2015 3:55 PM | Amber Wiley

    Tom Carter, former VAF president, current member, and professor emeritus at the University of Utah is featured in Continuum, The Magazine of the University of Utah. 

    See full article here: "The Stories Buildings Tell."

  • 05 Sep 2015 10:18 AM | Amber Wiley

    Screenshot of Member Forum.  Access it when you log in.

    Are you subscribed?  Have you checked the VAF Member Forum lately?

    The VAF Member Forum is the new home of what for a long time was the VAF email list serve. The VAF Forum allows members to share inquiries and information like the old email listserve but it also functions as an archive of all conversations. Feel free to add a new topic or respond to an existing one. You can subscribe to the Forum or to individual posts so that you receive email notification (daily, weekly, or immediately) whenever new content is posted.
  • 02 Sep 2015 3:11 PM | Amber Wiley

     Opportunities to Serve the VAF

     Nomination deadline: October 15, 2015

    The nominating committee of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) is seeking nominations for individuals to serve as members of the organization’s Board of Directors. Board members serve three-year terms. Individuals nominated this year, and subsequently elected, will begin service in June 2016. 

    The VAF is administered by a volunteer board composed of dedicated professionals and scholars from diverse disciplines who live and work in all parts of the United States and Canada. The Board meets twice a year, once during our Annual Conference in the Spring and again in the Fall. Board members are expected to attend these day-long meetings and participate in committee work throughout the year.

    The committee also seeks nominations for the position of President-Elect to start in June 2016. In the spring of 2017, the President-Elect will rise to the position of President of the VAF for two years. Candidates for the position of President-Elect should be familiar with the organization’s disparate programs, have a vision for the future of the group, and possess significant leadership skills.

    Nominations should be sent to William D. Moore at moorewd@bu.edu, preferably before October 15, 2015. Nominees must be members of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. Please include a short letter (not exceeding one page) indicating the position for which the person is being nominated and describing their qualifications as well as a short vita/resume (not exceeding two pages). Self-nominations are actively encouraged.

  • 01 Jul 2015 7:23 PM | Amber Wiley

    Did you miss the VAF Chicago conference?  Visit our Facebook page for photographs from the conference, as well as relevant articles on Chicago!

  • 04 Jun 2015 9:32 PM | Amber Wiley

    Are you at the 35th Annual Conference "Out of the Loop" in Chicago?  If so, use the hashtag #vafchicago for your Instagram and Twitter posts and share your images and impressions with all.  Also, visit our new Instagram page at: www.instagram.com/vafweb.

  • 22 Apr 2015 2:17 PM | David Bergstone (Administrator)

    To the membership of the VAF:

                I write to provide background information for a series of votes on proposed amendments to the VAF by-laws that will take place at the Annual Meeting in Chicago, June 6, 2015. Please find attached copies of the current VAF by-laws and of the  proposed by-laws amendments. The organization’s By-laws Committee, in dialogue with the Board of Directors, developed these amendments over the past 18 months, and the board unanimously endorsed them at its fall meeting in Chicago, November 1, 2014.

                Below I outline the five proposed changes, list the sections of the by-laws where they appear, and provide brief background on each.

                I encourage you to discuss these amendments with current officers and members of the board. Many thanks to the members of the by-laws committee for their meticulous work on these amendments (2013-14: Susan Kern, chair, James Buckley, Claire Dempsey, Gabrielle Lanier, Boyd Pratt; 2014-15: Carla Yanni, chair, Claire Dempsey, Elaine Jackson-Retondo).

                I strongly support all of these amendments, and would be very happy to receive your questions and comments (chwilson@unm.edu).

    Sincerely, Chris Wilson, VAF President

     1. President-Elect (Proposed By-laws sections, V: A,  C, D, E; VII: B).

                Creates the position of President-Elect to be elected every other year at the annual spring meeting and serve for one year as a non-voting member of the board and the executive committee (attend the fall board meeting, receive board emails, hold transition discussions with the current president, etc.) for the year proceeding assuming the duties of the president.

                Meant to ensure that an incoming president, if not currently on the board, will be fully up to speed on the current issues and initiatives of the organization before taking over as president.

     2. Reduction of the number of elected directors (VII: C).

                Reduces the number of elected board members from 15 to 12 (in other words, from 5 to 4 new board members elected each year to three year terms).

                Many of us have found the current 27 member board unwieldy for decision making. These numbers increase at the spring meetings to 32 by the participation of 5 incoming board members, and to 35 in the alternate years when the new president and VPs are also elected. The size of the board also adds to the travel costs covered by the VAF for the fall board meeting. This and the next provision are meant to reduce the board by 6 members to a new total of 21. Some have wondered about having enough people to do the work of the organization, but as long as the chairs of our committees are on the board, members of their committees can be recruited from the general VAF membership as necessary (and these committee members receive credit by being listed on the committees page of the VAF website).

     3. Conference organizers off the board (VII.D).

                Removes the three conference chairs, those for the past, current and future years, from the board of directors.

                The conference chairs would attend the board meeting when they present their conference proposal for the approval of the board and as necessary after this. The membership of conference chairs on the board has been intended to facilitate transmission of conference organizing practices. In recent years, the Second VP has coordinated conference scheduling and preparations, and this year I chose to appoint three members of the organization experienced in conference organizing to the conference committee. These committee members have proved valuable advisors to the current conference organizers.

     4. Electronic participation (VII.G. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).

                Providing for electronic participation in specific governance functions of the organization.

                These were prepared in response to new requirements that non-profits chartered in D.C. (as we are) address this issue.

     5. Signing contracts (IX.D).

                Limiting the power to sign contracts on behalf of the VAF to the President and Treasurer. 

  • 11 Dec 2014 10:35 AM | David Bergstone (Administrator)

    As some of you may know, we learned in late September that Gabrielle Lanier, our long-term Secretary, will be stepping down from this position. We are all enormously appreciative of her long and invaluable service on the Board and the executive committee of the VAF. Gabrielle has a particularly intimate knowledge of our organization; she knows how we look from the outside, from the inside, and she knows an awful lot about each of us as individuals. That knowledge and her prompt and helpful response to pleas for help and for information have been critical to our deliberation and decision making over the years. We are in her debt for this exceptional contribution to VAF.

    The nominations committee is at work to find a new Secretary, and we would welcome volunteers or suggestions for this critical position.

    As noted in our Bylaws, Section V G: “The Secretary shall serve a term of five years as Secretary of the Board of Directors and shall be responsible for the maintenance of the Forum’s minutes, corporate records, and such other records as may be specified by the Executive Committee. The Secretary may be renominated for an additional five-year term.”

    The Secretary serves on the Executive Committee, takes minutes at the Board’s twice-yearly meetings, handles our corporate and copyright filings, and has traditionally handled membership and responded to inquiries about the VAF. Some aspects of the Secretary’s duties, in particular these last, will be modified with our transition to the Wild Apricot system. Because the Secretary, like the Treasurer, serves a longer term than other Board members, this individual plays a special role in maintaining continuity and institutional memory.

    Please let me know if you are interested in serving VAF in this way or if you have a suggestion of someone who would do well in this role.

    Claire Dempsey, dempseyc@bu.edu
    For the Nominating Committee

  • 01 Oct 2014 10:47 AM | David Bergstone (Administrator)

    The New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum is deeply saddened to share the news that longtime VAF member and current VAF-NE chapter President Rick Greenwood PhD died yesterday of cancer.  For nearly three decades, Rick served on the staff of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, most recently as Deputy Director. Trained as an archaeologist and historian, Rick focused on social, economic, and technological forces in Rhode Island history, including research on mill villages and the industrial revolution; the Blackstone Canal and the transportation revolution; and the evolution of the Rhode Island dairy farm. Rick contributed to The Early Architecture and Landscapes of the Narragansett Basin, prepared for the 2001 VAF national conference in Newport Rhode Island. Rick had served as a Director of VAF-NE from 2001 to 2007 and as President from 2012 to the present.  Before coming to Rhode Island, Rick was a historian at the National Historic Landmarks program of the National Park Service, and he was a preservation planner for the Maryland Historical Trust.  VAF-NE extends its deepest condolences to Rick's family and his RIHPHC colleagues.

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