Published Date

January 8, 1998

Resource Type

AHA Archival Document

AHA Topics

Publishing, Research & Publications

Approved by AHA Council, January 8, 1998

Changes in the electronic medium present significant challenges and extraordinary opportunities to scholars and students in history. As editors of history journals, we are challenged to address change in support of our readers and the scholarly community. In turn, we challenge the organizations that provide electronic archiving of journals, the online delivery of journals’ contents, and the computerized search engines to include the broadest representation of historical fields.

Strong evidence today points to the absence in the online medium of broad areas of historical inquiry. Journals covering area studies, women’s studies, and other vital thematic areas have been neglected in the fast-paced changes which have seen entire runs of the printed medium transformed into electronic formats.

Ironically, technical progress may turn out to represent a backward step for the historical profession. We have been energized in the last three decades thanks in great part to an expansion of publication outlets dedicated to the histories of peoples beyond the United States, to the historical processes of heretofore understudied groups everywhere, and to new approaches and methods. The expanded and enriched intellectual plane of the recent past will be severely impoverished if organizations—for-profit and nonprofit alike—fail to provide the electronic versions of what scholars and students have available today in print. We need a strategy of broad inclusivity in collection, conversion, and delivery services.

As journal editors, we urge electronic publishers and aggregators to pursue goals and policies that reconstitute in the electronic medium the same or better access that our readers currently enjoy via the paper medium. Otherwise, the current orphaning process of journals in area studies and in specialized themes will soon diminish the historical profession at large.