Report on the Sixth Year

January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2004

Date: February 14, 2005

To: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

From: Robert B. Townsend, Assistant Director

Re: Gutenberg-e annual report for 2004


Now entering its sixth year, the project seemed to gain significant traction, with an unprecedented level of submissions and a large review of the site in the American Historical Review. Unfortunately, the pace of publication flagged just a bit, as some of the more technically-sophisticated works neared the end of the pipeline, and some authors were held up until they could obtain some release time to finish their revisions. With that said, however, a large number of publications will go online shortly. In particular, we are looking forward to the debut of the publications by Heidi Gengenbach and Helena Polandt-McCormick.  Both projects will be completed shortly, and we think the additional time spent on them will prove well justified, as they both promise to make truly creative and innovative use of the digital medium for their scholarship. We are also pleased to report that another of the prize recipients, Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, just received tenure based on his Gutenberg-e publication, as well as a review in a major journal in his field.

As we noted in the proposal submitted in December, we are actively exploring our options for the long-term viability of the project. The financial spreadsheet included with that proposal was only intended to detail the specifics of that communication, so we hope the attached table of expenses will allay the other concerns expressed in Don Waters’s e-mail of January 20. We will offer a revised proposal for the future of the project, within the constraints detailed in that message, after some further internal discussions. In the interim, we offer this annual summary of activities.

2004 Competition

The 2004 competition, which was open to all fields of history, attracted 62 submissions, more than in any of the past years.  The topics of the dissertations touched nearly every corner of the globe (Europe-31, U.S./Canada-20, World-11) and spanned the second century BC to late twentieth century (20th Century-26, Modern-14, Middle Ages/Renaissance-15, Ancient-7). In comparison to our data on recent dissertation production, this is an unusually large number of submissions in European history. It is difficult to determine if this distribution reflects a cross-section of the dissertations being completed right now, or if it represents the subjects that are perceived by their authors to be less likely to be published in print. We were also rather surprised that a larger proportion of submissions from historians employed outside of colleges and universities were submitted to the open competition.

The open competition made putting together a committee a particular challenge this year. We made every effort to represent scholars of U.S., Europe and World history from across the temporal spectrum. To assist with the process, we also found it useful to ask two judges from previous competition committees:  Saul Cornell (Ohio State University) Margaret Strobel (University of Illinois Chicago). They were joined by Jerry Bentley (University of Hawaii), Stanley Chodorow (University of California, San Diego), Christof Mauch (German Historical Institute), and Joan Rubin (University of Rochester).

Despite the wide diversity of subject coverage on the committee, we also had to draw on the services of four outside readers as part of the competition process. They provided the specificity of knowledge needed to ensure that the dissertation could pass muster within the particular field. This had the added advantage of involving more of the scholarly community in the process of electronic publishing, and we were pleased with the readers’ interest and enthusiasm.

The eight winners selected by the prize committee were notified in late January.  They are:

  1. Sherry Fields, Pestilence and Headcolds: Encountering Illness in Colonial Mexico;
  2. Rhonda M. Gonzales, Continuity and Change: Thought, Belief, and Practice in the History of the Ruvu Peoples of Central East Tanzania, c. 200 B. C. to A. D. 1800;
  3. Sarah Gordon, 'Make it Yourself': Home Sewing, Gender and Culture, 1890-1930
  4. Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Inter-Regional Trade and Colonial State Formation in Nineteenth-Century Afghanistan
  5. Robert  Kirkbride, The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro and the Architecture of Memory;
  6. Jennifer Langdon-Teclaw; Caught in the Crossfire: Anti-Fascism, Anti-Communism and the Politics of Americanism in the Hollywood Career of Adrian Scott
  7. Laura Mitchell; Contested Terrains: Property and Labor on the Cedarberg Frontier, 1725-c. 1830;
  8. Bin Yang, Between Winds and Clouds:  The Making of Yunnan (Second Century BCE-Twentieth Century CE)

Advertising and marketing

Our advertising and marketing of the prize competition significantly widened this year, given the expanded scope of the prize. Advertising for the prize was placed in journals and other serial publications with a combined circulation of over 60,000 scholars. We also benefited from the distribution of notices through electronic newsletters and discussion groups, with an estimated 100,000 subscribers.  We also used traditional AHA channels, piggybacking information on the competition with print and electronic mailings to history departments and graduate student members of the AHA. (Samples enclosed).


We think the publication process for the 2003 winners has been significantly aided by readers’ reports that provided a specialist’s assessment of their work and specific suggestions for revisions. These readers’ reports provided an added benefit to us as project managers, by reiterating from a specialist’s perspective that these dissertations are of the highest quality and will make a significant contribution to the field.  One reviewer returned her comments weeks before the requested date saying, “I took a look at the manuscript and found it so fascinating that I decided to read it right away.  So, here is my review, way ahead of schedule”—high praise from a busy academic. The 2003 authors spent their first year revising their manuscripts and starting the process of gathering permissions for images for their completed publications.  They are scheduled to submit their manuscripts to Columbia by January 2006.

During the last year, a number of the unpublished authors from pre-2003 prize competitions have made significant progress on the revision of their projects. Heidi Gengenbach and Helena Pohlandt-McCormick, both from the first prize competition, have worked closely with Columbia e-publishing staff during individual visits to New York. These sessions proved to be quite effective in helping these authors deal with challenges that included permissions problems, as well as questions concerning the overall organization of their material and site architecture.

The EPIC staff has found that in some cases, these individual sessions between author and staff are necessary in order to get problems resolved. Willeen Keough, Ken Steuer, John Haddad, and Tonio Andrade have all experienced delays since they received the prize, as a result of the heavy teaching burdens of junior faculty. This past summer and fall they have finally been able to get the time they needed to complete their revisions.  They have submitted nearly all of their materials to the EPIC offices. Sarah Lowengard and Bill MacLehose both experienced frustration with continuing the writing process while simultaneously doing other work, and have thus missed a number of their deadlines.  Editors and project coordinators at EPIC have met with both of these authors individually over the past year, and are now finally seeing some results from these sessions. We believe that they are both in a position to submit their material by the beginning of the fall 2005.


Total spending for the year was somewhat less than our anticipated total ($272,406 actual expenses versus $355,000 predicted at the beginning of the year.)  The timing of invoices for workshop and other expenses from Columbia University Press (which reached our offices after January 1, 2005) explain much of the difference. Given past practice, these expenses are included in the projected expenses for 2005.

This year we anticipate expenses of $483,728, which includes first payments to the new prize recipients ($80,000) and second payments to past winners ($15,000), as well as honoraria to the 2004 prize committee ($6,000). Staffing and other costs at Columbia should increase significantly in the coming year given the large number of publications now in their hands, and the large number of authors just starting their work, since a disproportionate number have been selected in the past two years. We anticipate a sharp increase in editorial expenses from Columbia University Press ($292,754) and in the costs for two workshops for the large number of authors now in the pipeline as well as expenses for the workshop held last September that have not yet been billed to the AHA ($58,974).  We also anticipate a larger amount for readers’ reports and permissions expenses ($12,000) because of the larger number of authors in the pipeline. 

In spring 2004, we received $355,000 and incurred $272,406 in expenses which leaves us with $82,594 on hand.  Therefore we request a check for $401,134 (the total expenses we anticipate for 2005 minus our remaining funds).