Report on the Fifth Year

January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2003

Date: 2/19/2004

To:  Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

From: Robert B. Townsend, Assistant Director

RE: Gutenberg-e annual report for 2003

The fourth year of the Gutenberg-e program brought a fresh sense of encouragement, as well as the standardization of many procedures and protocols.  At the past two workshops for authors at Columbia University, we have noted a significant improvement in tone as a growing number of books go online, a number of the authors are advancing toward tenure, and the project as a whole seems to be gaining momentum.

The 2003 Competition

The 2003 competition, in women’s history and history of gender, attracted 42 submissions—more than any other year. We credit the improvement to growing awareness of the program, improved marketing efforts, and the decision to move the deadline back to September 1.

The submissions ranged widely over a large number of regions and time periods.  We received 20 offerings in North American history, 17 in European history, 3 transatlantic studies and one each for Asia and Africa.  The periods of study skewed rather heavily into the modern period, with 27 dissertations covering the long 20th century, 8 falling in the period between 1700 and 1900, and 7 medieval studies. However, when compared to our surveys of new PhDs being produced, European history was actually overrepresented relative to the pool of possible applicants. 

The increased turnout, and the unexpectedly large number of responses in the field of modern Europe, necessitated adding a seventh member to the prize committee. The six original members of the committee continued the prize’s tradition of gathering together some of the most esteemed members of the profession, including Judith Bennett (University of North Carolina), William Chafe (Duke University), Thomas Dublin (SUNY Binghamton), Alice Kessler-Harris (Columbia University), Margaret Strobel (University of Illinois Chicago), and Jannelle Warren-Findley (Arizona State University). However, after surveying the submissions received, the committee felt it could not adequately judge the large number of submissions in modern Europe. At their suggestion we asked and were ably assisted by Elizabeth Heineman (University of Iowa). 

Because of the later submission deadline and the need to bring Dr. Heineman on board, the winners were not announced at the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2004. However, we will feature an announcement in the April issue of Perspectives (the AHA’s news magazine) and on the AHA web site. 

Because of the high quality of the submissions the prize committee awarded 9 prizes for the 2003 competition:  Joshua Greenberg,  Advocating 'The Man': Masculinity, Organized Labor and the Market Revolution in New York, 1800-1840;  Tim Hodgdon, Manhood in the Age of Aquarius: Masculinity in Two Countercultural Communities, 1965-83; Daniella J. Kostroun, Undermining Obedience in Absolutist France: The Case of the Port Royal Nuns, 1609-1709; Erika Lauren Lindgren, Environment and Spirituality of German Dominican Women, 1230-1370; Jeri L. McIntosh, Sovereign Princesses:  Mary and Elizabeth Tudor as Heads of Princely Households and the Accomplishment of the Female Succession, 1516-1553; Ann Elizabeth Pfau, Miss Yourlovin: Women  in the Culture of American World War II Soliders;  Margaret Poulos, Arms and the Woman: Just Warriors and Greek Feminist Identity; Kirsten S. Rambo, ’Trivial Complaints:’ The Role of Privacy in domestic Violence Law and Activism in the U. S; Maria Rentetzi, Gender, Politics, and Radioactivity Research in Vienna, 1910-1938.  At this writing, all have at least informally accepted the prize, however, with only one exception, all have informally acknowledged and expressed their intent to accept the prize.

Just as the online content has lagged behind our initial estimate, adoptions by libraries have lagged behind our early projections. Given that we only have 11 books online at the moment, we consider it a good sign that 45 institutions have already signed on to the program. But of course we are not satisfied with this. In the short term Columbia has developed a range of new sales options—such as making it available for individual sale—which we hope will expand its reach to new audiences. And looking ahead, we anticipate a large number of outstanding titles will finally reach production within the next three months. So we are now developing strategies to move them through the production pipeline as quickly as possible (without sacrificing quality, of course) to get them online and part of the overall package. (The cost of a library subscription is $195; books are available individually for $49.50.) 

Undoubtedly, part of the reason for the slow adoptions is the relatively small number of publications available. We have learned that authors can dawdle just as easy in preparing a manuscript for the online publication as they do in print. But we do feel the project is nearing the point of critical mass. There are now ten titles online.  They are: Gregory Brown’s Writers, Court Culture, and Public Theater in French Literary Life from Racine to the Revolution (2000); Kenneth Estes’s A European Anabasis: Western European Volunteers in the German Army and SS, 1940-1945 (2001); Ignacio Gallup-Diaz’s The ‘Door of the Seas and the Key to the Universe’: Indian Politics and Imperial Rivalry in the Darién, 1640–1750 (1999); Mary Halavais’ Like Wheat to the Miller: Community, Convivencia, and the Construction of Morisco Identity in Sixteenth-Century Aragon (2000); Wayne Hanley’s The Genesis of Napoleonic Propaganda (2000); Anne Hardgrove’s Community and Public Culture: The Marwaris in Calcutta, c. 1897–1997; Jacqueline Holler’s Escogidas Plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531–1601 (1999); Michael Katten’s Colonial Lists/Indian Power: Identity Politics in Nineteenth-Century Telugu Speaking India (1999); Sanders Marble’s ‘The Infantry Cannot Do with a Gun Less’: The Place of the Artillery in the BEF, 1914-1918 (2001); Christopher D. O’Sullivan’s Summer Welles, Postwar Planning, and the Quest for a New World Order, 1937-1943 (2001); and Daniel Kowalsky, Stalin and the Spanish Civil War (2001).

Reviews of the books have started to appear in the American Historical Review and the H-net discussion networks.  Those reviews, on the whole, have been very positive and have treated the electronic publications just as they would print publications. The Gutenberg-e website includes links to those reviews.  The Gutenberg-e site has also received favorable mention in a number of library journals and surveys of electronic publishing projects.

Advertising and Marketing

The AHA advertised the 2003 competition widely in journals focusing on women’s history and history of gender, as well as magazines and journals for the broader academic community.  Regular ads were also published in the AHA’s own publications, the American Historical Review, Perspectives, and the AHA website.  Columbia University has produced two brochures to market the books to libraries across the country (7,500 copies total): “The First Set:  Narratives of Community Transformation and Identity Construction” and “The Second Set: Diplomatic and Military History.” These have been mailed to specialized and general librarians at elite degree granting universities as well as scholars in the fields represented. The Columbia University Press History 2004 catalog includes Gutenberg-e books sold individually. The Gutenberg-e titles appear alongside print publications in the same specialty.


Arnita Jones, Executive Director of the AHA continues to oversee the management of the competition aspect of the program. Robert Townsend, Assistant Director of Research and Publications manages the day-to-day operations of the competition with the help of research associates Deirdre Murphy (until August 2003) and Elizabeth Fairhead (from August 2003 to present).  Elizabeth, who spent a number of years working in electronic publishing before coming to the AHA, came on staff when Deirdre moved on to pursue her dissertation research full time.

AHA-related activities

The Gutenberg-e project both inspired and benefited from a number of other AHA-funded projects.  Appearing in the February 2004 issue of Perspectives is the article “A Survey of Tenure Practices: Departments Indicate Books Are Key and Success Rates for Tenure High” by Robert Townsend, which reports the results of a survey conducted in the fall of 2003.   This survey grew out of questions about the acceptance of Gutenberg-e books and their place in the rewards system of the academy. 65% of the responding departments indicated that publishing an online book would help strengthen a professor’s tenure portfolio.

On January 7, 2004, the AHA, along with the American Council of Learned Societies’ History E-Book Project, Columbia University Press, and the History Cooperative, co-sponsored a workshop called “Entering the Second Stage of Online History Scholarship.”  The workshop took advantage of the gathering of historians in Washington, which provided meeting space at no additional cost to the AHA, and minimal cost to participants who only had to arrive a day early. Unfortunately, only three Gutenberg-e authors were able to attend. But one of the published authors, Greg Brown, was featured on an opening-day panel and spoke about the issues raised by his recently published book. The following day, he discussed the problems and difficulties for authors in a more conversational setting. Over 150 scholars, librarians and electronic project staff gathered to discuss the process of creating electronic monographs and articles, how to incorporate electronic publishing in the promotion and tenure processes and technical requirements for producing and maintaining electronic publications.

Two articles appeared in Perspectives that have helped raise awareness of the potential of electronic publishing in general and the successes of Gutenberg-e in particular.  Growing out of interviews with published Gutenberg-e authors “On the Tenure Track with an E-Book” by Deirdre Murphy which appeared in May 2003 demonstrates that the relationship between tenure and electronic publishing is not an unhappy one. “Gutenberg-e: A Field Report” by Kenneth Margerison ran in the October 2003 issue of Perspectives.  This piece updates readers on the history and current status of the Gutenberg-e project, as well as offers a “reader’s eye” perspective of the electronically published texts.

Plans for 2004 Competition

Per our email discussions, the 2004 competition will be open to all fields of history.  We plan extensive advertising in a broad representation of journals and print and electronic mailings to graduate students and history departments all over the country.  Competition details are available on the new AHA website and have been announced in the spring issues of Perspectives. Assuming the submissions are as strong as this past year’s competition, we expect to give out the remaining seven awards.


Overall, finances for 2003 are running behind our budget projections to date. Fellowships and honoraria were both behind schedule for 2003. The 2002 prize committee selected only three winners, therefore fewer fellowships were disbursed this years. Because of the later deadline for submissions for the 2003 competition, and the corresponding delay in honoraria payments to the prize committee, no honoraria monies were disbursed in 2003. Please note that the budget for 2004 includes only honoraria payments for the 2003 committee, as we anticipate payments for the 2004 committee to be likewise disbursed in 2005.

As you will note, we have not yet dipped into two other expense lines—for reproduction rights and readers reports—since we have only been able to make it available for the past year. The authors are beginning to fit these into their plans, so these funds will be used in the next two years.

In the coming year we project a significant acceleration in costs, given the large number of authors who will begin working their way through the pipeline. We anticipate disbursing $120,000 in fellowship funds ($90,000 for first installments to the new award recipients (2003) and $30,000 for those now finishing, and $14,000 in reproduction costs and readers’ honoraria. Funds for the fall workshop will also come directly from the Gutenberg-e budget, adding another $25,000 in expenses, in addition to the $161,273 in production costs anticipated by Columbia. At present we have approximately $155,000 in grant funds on hand and so request the next payment of $205,000 toward these expenses.