About the American Historical Review

AHR Building

The American Historical Review (AHR) is the official publication of the American Historical Association (AHA). The AHA was founded in 1884 and chartered by Congress in 1889 to serve the interests of the entire discipline of history. Aligning with the AHA's mission, the AHR has been the journal of record for the historical profession in the United States since 1895-one of the few journals in the world that brings together scholarship from every major field of historical study. The AHR is unparalleled in its efforts to choose articles that are new in content and interpretation and that make a significant contribution to historical knowledge. The journal also publishes approximately 1,000 book reviews per year, surveying and assessing the most important contemporary historical scholarship in the discipline.

A journal with this broad a remit requires significant resources and staffing. The scale of our operations can be suggested in numbers: we receive approximately 300 article submissions and 3,000 books for review consideration a year. Handling this load are the editor, an associate editor, an articles editor, a book review editor, a production assistant, an operations manager, and seven editorial assistants. In addition, we rely upon staff at the AHA and at our publisher, Oxford University Press, for important services.

Since the early 1970s, the AHR has been based on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University and has enjoyed the support of the university's College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of History. While at IU, however, the journal is not of IU. IU faculty serve as consultants in the book review process; graduate students from the History Department are recruited as editorial assistants; and the associate editor is chosen by the editor from the History faculty. The editor, however, is recruited from outside IU through a national search. And the journal's primary relationship is with the AHA in Washington, DC.

In terms of its editorial management and direction, the AHR is strictly independent. The members of the Board of Editors, its main governing instrument, are appointed by the editor and serve three-year terms. Board members are selected from among leading scholars in the profession, chosen for their expertise in a range of fields: medieval and early modern Europe, western and eastern Europe and Russia, East and South Asia, Latin America, early and modern US, Middle East, and methods and theory. 

The main task of the members of the Board of Editors is reviewing manuscripts submitted for publication. Our review process is complex and rigorous. All submissions are first read in-house by the associate editor and then passed along to the editor for consideration. At that point, a manuscript is rejected outright, returned to the author for revision and resubmission, or forwarded to two members of the Board of Editors for their review. It is important to note that even rejected submissions receive a written assessment from the associate editor and a letter from the editor. A positively reviewed submission is then sent to three experts in the field. This is the peer-review process, the heart of the workings of any scholarly journal worthy of the name. Usually submissions undergo several rounds of revisions before they are published. Most published articles will have received at least six readers' reports. 

The acceptance rate for submissions to the AHR is quite low, on the order of 9 percent. But this figure must be qualified: many submissions are simply inappropriate for this journal-either much too short, entirely lacking in scholarship, too narrow, or too general. But many others are quite good; they should and will be published elsewhere. This is why we strive to provide some feedback and guidance on all manuscripts, for our mission is to contribute to historical scholarship even if the work does not end up on our pages.  

Our rigorous review process and high rejection rate often prompt the question, what makes an AHR article? While there is, of course, no template or model, the basic criteria are clear: historical work distinguished by analytical sophistication, deep research, historiographical importance, clear writing, and new or significant interpretation. Beyond this we seek manuscripts that have the broadest appeal, that are accessible to our wide readership, and that engage questions or methods that transcend particular fields of historical inquiry. In short, an AHR article should "speak across the discipline." It must be acknowledged that, with increasing specialization and even the so-called balkanization of history, this is a difficult, sometimes elusive goal. But just as the AHA strives to represent and serve all historians, so the AHR aims to interest historians of all times and places in its content and to address, insofar as possible, issues and methods common to us all. 

One of the ways we try to accomplish this goal is by commissioning or coordinating articles on related subjects that are then bundled into Forums or Roundtables; this way, more narrowly conceived articles can speak to one another, thus making the whole more than the sum of its parts. Since 2006, we have also featured the annual AHR Conversation, which brings together historians from different fields and periods in an online discussion on an important topic of general concern, which is then edited and footnoted for publication. There have been seven such Conversations: "On Transnational History" (2006); "Religious Identities and Violence" (2007); "Environmental Historians and Environmental Crisis" (2008); "Historians and the Study of Material Culture" (2009); "Historical Perspectives on the Circulation of Information" (2011); "The Historical Study of Emotions" (2012); and "How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History" (2013).  

For most of its long history, the AHR was essentially self-published. In the 1990s, we joined with the AHA, the Organization of American Historians, the Journal of American History, several other journals, and the University of Illinois Press in forming the History Cooperative in order to create a digital platform for the publication of our content. In 2006, it was decided to seek a publisher for the journal, in both its print and digital versions. From 2007 to 2012 we were published by the University of Chicago Press. Since 2012, Oxford University Press has been our publisher. 

In its second century of continuous publication, the American Historical Review strives to be the leading forum for new historical research, while meeting the challenges of an ever-evolving digital age and an ever-expanding global community of scholars.  

AHA Building

The American Historical Association provides leadership for the discipline and promotes the critical role of historical thinking in public life. The Association defends academic freedom, develops professional standards, supports innovative scholarship and teaching, and helps to sustain and enhance the work of historians. As the largest membership association of professional historians in the world, the AHA serves historians in a wide variety of professions and represents every historical era and geographical area.

About AHA & Membership