American Historical Review 2005
By Robert A. Schneider
This is my first annual report as editor of the American Historical Review, having taken over this position from Michael Grossberg in August of last year. My report thus covers a 12-month period during which the journal was in part still under his direction. I can say, however, that he passed on to me both a publication that is in excellent shape and a support and editorial staff that has been a blessing in every respect. As Grossberg noted in his report of last year, 2005 was a time of transition for the AHR. And, largely due to his efforts and those of everyone else both here in Bloomington and at the AHA in Washington, the transition has, I think, been a smooth one. I would especially like to thank our associate editor, Maria Bucar, executive director Arnita Jones, and Robert B. Townsend, the AHA’s assistant director for publications and research, for their help.
As an organ of historical research, the AHR has several goals. It aims to publish the best, the most interesting, and most up-to-date research in article form. It strives for as comprehensive coverage as possible in the review of scholarly books. It also attempts to shape the nature of historical research and discourse by organizing forums on important or neglected topics which might capture the interest of historians of widely different fields, perhaps even prompting them to rethink how they go about their research and teaching. Finally, in all of this, the journal is guided by the self-imposed obligation to speak across the profession to the whole range of historians and historical specialties. The AHR is, after all, the journal of the entire historical profession in North America, with a readership with interests from all fields and sub-disciplines, from all periods and geographical regions, from all methodological or thematic perspectives. To be sure, we are not always successful on this count, for in an era of increasing specialization it is often difficult to feature the latest research, which tends to be specialized, while also appealing to our wide readership. But I guarantee this is not for want of trying. Moreover, we continue to fill our pages with scholarship that is truly global in range.
These various goals are reflected in the five issues of 2005. In all there were 21 articles (including the annual Presidential Address) and two forums, along with more than 1,000 book and film reviews. The articles included one on depictions of violence in the French Revolution that used web-based technology to allow readers to view for themselves a range of images from the eighteenth century as well as explore a series of essays written by specialists on the subject. One of the forums offered a critique of the history profession’s supposed lack of involvement in fashioning the history curriculum in public schools, a disengagement, the authors claimed, that began several generations ago. The forum also had an electronic component allowing readers to post their comments on this interpretation, which elicited some vigorous dissents. The other forum dealt with the so-called constitutional revolution of 1937 in the United States. Other articles ranged in subject matter from the Inquisition to museum studies, from religion and politics in colonial Mexico to the Stalinist Terror, from battlefield tourism during the Spanish Civil War to school meals in Modern Britain. Significantly, many of the articles were either comparative in nature, dealing two or more countries or cultures, or transnational in scope. Our commitment to non-Western history has been affirmed to the point where, it seems to me, it no longer needs to be asserted.
The AHR also faces several challenges. Like other journals, we continue to feel our way in the still new environment of electronic publishing. This burgeoning outlet has undoubtedly expanded our readership and increased access to our pages, but it also holds uncertain implications for our subscription base and will ultimately represent a competing venue for our print version. We have the question of film reviews to consider as well. In December I announced a temporary suspension of film reviews in the journal. In the future I hope to maintain our commitment to assessing films of historical relevance, but to do so in a way commensurate with the mission of a journal of historical scholarship and the interests of our readers. Finally, our greatest challenge is one where our awareness is only match by our dependence on the whole community of historians: to make the AHR the one publication that all historians, regardless of their specialties and approaches, turn to for the newest and most interesting historical writing. Our success in meeting this challenge must ultimately depend upon historians’ willingness to produce the kind of scholarship that addresses wide concerns. We will do our part in nurturing, supporting and featuring scholarship of this sort, but we look to the vitality of our discipline and the intellectual ambition of historians as its source.
Robert A. Schneider is the editor of the American Historical Review.
Founded in March 2000 by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the University of Illinois Press, and the National Academies Press, the History Cooperative is a premier online resource for professional historians. The History Cooperative provides online access to major historical journals as well as links to resources of interest to historians. In 2005, the History Cooperative included the following journals. For a current list, visit Historycooperative.org.
American Historical Review
The History Teacher
Indiana Magazine of History
Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association
Journal of American History
Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Journal of Social History
Journal of World History
Labour / Le Travail
Law and History Review
Massachusetts Historical Review
Oral History Review
Oregon Historical Quarterly
Western Historical Quarterly
William and Mary Quarterly World History Connected