Annual Report 2001
American Historical Review
By Michael Grossberg
I will complete my seventh year as editor of the American Historical Review in July 2002. I am pleased to report that the journal continues to be produced in a timely and fiscally sound manner. I should note as well that Acting Editor Jeffrey Wasserstrom completed his tenure in August 2001 and I resumed the editorship after a year's sabbatical. I think that Jeff did an exemplary job during my leave. I am also pleased to announce that a February 1999 AHR article by Jorge Cañizares Esguerra, "New World, New Stars: Patriotic Astrology and the Invention of Indian and Creole Bodies in Colonial Spanish America, 1600-1650," won the prize for the best article published in 1999-2000 awarded by the History of Science Society's interest group, the Forum for History of Human Science. And an abridged version of Gale Stokes's April 2000 review essay, "The Fates of Human Societies: A Review of Recent Macrohistories," recently appeared in Lingua Franca. In addition, I would also like to report on the most significant activities at the journal during the last year.
I want to note a few of our current editorial projects. First, the third AHR online article discussion was held in September 2001. The discussion focused on an essay by Patrick Wolfe that appeared in the June 2001 issue: "Land, Labor, and Difference: Elementary Structures of Race." We will continue the experiment and have commissioned Theodore Steinberg of Case Western Reserve University to write an article on environmental history for the 2002 Forum Essay. Second, work continues on electronic articles. One is an essay by Edward Ayers and William Thomas of the University of Virginia on the origins of the United States Civil War. Another is an essay by Lynn Hunt of UCLA and Jack Censer and Roy Rosenzweig of George Mason University on visual imagery and the French Revolution. These projects are part of our evolving attempts to take advantage of the possibilities that the e-AHR offers us to enhance the journal's contribution to scholarly exchange. Finally, we are working on several other projects aimed at soliciting manuscripts on underrepresented subjects in the AHR such as economic history.
As a result of discussions with the AHR staff, the Research Division, Council, and the Conference of Historical Journals, we have decided to deal with the advent of electronic books by modifying our current book review guidelines rather than crafting new and specialized guidelines. We are thus following an integration model in which we will add a few lines to the book review standards that note the distinctive issues raised by electronic books but that subject them to the same fundamental standards as print books. And we will select reviewers based on their knowledge of the subject matter of a book, not their technological expertise. Finally, we will place the e-book reviews in the regular categories that we use for book reviews instead of in a separate section. These decisions represent our conclusion that journals like the AHR can best perform their role in legitimating and normalizing this new medium of publication by highlighting the scholarly content of e-books rather than their technology. The goal is thus to focus on a book's contribution to our understanding of the past and its effectiveness in communicating its ideas and arguments-the same goal we have for reviews of print books. And we will craft a specially worded invitation to e-book reviewers that highlights these points.
The History Cooperative, which produces electronic versions of the AHR, continues to function quite well and to enjoy a growing readership. Particularly noteworthy is the use of the Cooperative site by readers outside of North America, especially in Europe generally and Germany specifically. Three journals have joined the Cooperative: Labour/Le Travail (Canada), Labour History (Australia), and Commonplace (an electronic journal in early American history). Thus the first steps have been taken toward making the Cooperative an international organization. These journals will begin appearing on the Cooperative site in the spring of 2002. In addition, the members of the Cooperative submitted a grant proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities requesting support for the "History Cooperative Online Scholarship Project," which seeks to produce model electronic history articles that illustrate the possibilities of producing scholarship in the new medium. And it is one of a series of initiatives intended to help make the Cooperative a major portal to scholarship in the discipline of history.
Finally, I want to stress that producing the AHR is a collaborative effort; thus it has been possible to publish the journal in a timely and effective manner and to pursue other related activities only because of the skill and dedication of the AHR staff and the board of editors and the support of the officers of the AHA. Beyond the consistently high level of their daily work, Assistant Editors Moureen Coulter and Allyn Roberts and Production Manager Beverly Sample continue to make major contributions to the development of journal initiatives. The journal's seven graduate student editorial assistants have also made significant contributions. And I have been very fortunate to work with a distinguished and dedicated group of historians on the journal's board of editors. They have always responded to requests for assistance on manuscripts and journal policies with thoughtful and useful advice. Four members of the board of editors will complete their terms of office in June 2002: Iris Berger, Michael Hogan, Brooke Larson, and Edward Muir. Their work and advice has been invaluable. So too has that of AHA Vice President for Research Gabrielle Spiegel, whose continued commitment to the intellectual mission of the AHR has been critical to its operation. And I would like to thank the members of the AHA Council, Research Division, and Washington staff, especially Arnita Jones, the executive director, and Robert Townsend, assistant director for publications, for their invaluable assistance and support over the last year. I would also like to thank former AHA President Wm. Roger Louis for his consistent commitment to the journal during his tenure in office. In September 2001 he became the first sitting AHA president to visit the journal's offices and discuss its policies with the staff. Most important, I would like to express my gratitude to the countless historians who helped produce the AHR over the last year by evaluating manuscripts, reviewing books, and offering us their ideas about the journal. Without their assistance, the journal could not be published nor could its editors aspire to achieve its mission.
Michael Grossberg (Indiana University) is editor of the American Historical Review.Last Updated: July 9, 2007 11:54 AM