Martha J. King

Martha J. KingAssistant Editor, Papers of James Madison
Alderman Library, University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia

“Historical editing is another way besides teaching in which I can practice my craft as a historian because it utilizes the same research, analytical, and communication skills. There is great satisfaction in the timelessness of producing not another trendy monograph but a volume of collected correspondence of an important individual in American history that will last for the ages and increase access to that individual’s works and world. Historical editing creates an intimacy with a subject long dead and helps us to bridge the gap of the historical past.”


Martha J. King, currently an assistant editor for the Papers of James Madison, whose editorial offices are located at the University of Virginia, began her interest in historical editing while she was a graduate student at the College of William and Mary. She worked as an editorial apprentice and intern at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, which publishes the William and Mary Quarterly and some scholarly books. King completed her Ph.D. in history at William and Mary. She was awarded the National Historical Publications and Records Commission Fellowship in Historical Editing for work on the Papers of Henry Laurens at the University of South Carolina in 1991. She also participated in another NHPRC training program for historical editors, the Summer Institute for Editing Historical Documents, also known as “Camp Edit,” at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

After finishing her fellowship at the Laurens Papers, King worked as an editor on the staffs of the Papers of Thomas A. Edison at Rutgers University and then the Papers of General Nathanael Greene at the Rhode Island Historical Society before taking her present position at the Madison Papers in 1997. Her editorial work has helped to provide access to primary sources for the colonial, revolutionary, and early national periods of American history. As a historical editor, King makes decisions about which documents to publish, conducts research in manuscript and library collections to provide annotation for the selected documents, indexes the volumes, supervises the proofreading and transcription of all documents, and provides outreach to educators and community groups. She has been a participant in the Model Editions Partnership for electronic editions and has been an active member of the Association for Documentary Editing, the Southern Association for Women Historians, and several other historical associations.