AHA Day 2: The Future of History Journals in the Digital Age

At session 136 on Saturday, Prof. Douglas Seefeldt led a roundtable discussion with Christopher Grasso, David Rich Lewis, John F. McClymer, Abby S. Rumsey, Sefan Tanaka, and Allen Tullos. The purpose of the panel was to explore ways to reduce the gap between scholarship in the profession’s journals and the scholarship of the web. University presses and scholarly journals remain the gold standard for tenure and promotion, and time has not solved the problem of valuing digital work below that of print.

Those participating faced a series of questions. They spoke on the steps they were taking to move their journals into the digital age. Some are making concerted efforts to incorporate new digital supplements to their journals while others, like the peer-reviewed Southern Spaces, is entirely digital.

The issue of peer review was a key focus in the discussion as well. The editors generally agreed that double blind peer review panels could maintain their function, but also begin bridging the gap of print and digital by incorporating experts on the content and experts on the digital to talk together and assess how well content and form interact. Stefan Tanaka challenged the idea, suggesting that double blind review is only one of several ways to do peer review. He also pointed out that a peer review process exists online, and these discussions needed to happen online where the scholarship is being produced. An example that Tanaka points to is blogs, where people are doing serious, public scholarship and should be recognized as communities of conversations.

Open access formed another nexus of the conversation. Open access digital publishing gives authors an idea of how many people are viewing their work. Abby Rumsey provocatively suggests that libraries have the money to fix the problem — they have the ability to reshift their budgets and support digital humanities without any problems. Exploring the digital space means being more demanding about libraries finding solutions, and they can find solutions by reallocating budgets. “University libraries still have a lot of money,” Rumsey suggested. “If faculty demanded they support digital and open access scholarship, they would.”

Journal editors suggested that they are open to the idea of digital scholarship and are waiting for more submissions of such work that force them to think about ways of incorporating digital work into their apparatus.


Meeting Schedule

Below is the meeting schedule. Please follow the meeting and other Sustaining Digital History initiative topics on Twitter, #SDHSUG.

Sustaining Digital History
Meeting Schedule, Friday 1 October 2010
Colonial Room, First Floor, City Campus Union
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

8:30 AM:  Objectives and Agenda
Doug Seefeldt
, Assistant Professor of History & Faculty Fellow, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, UNL, Will Thomas, Chair, Department of History, Professor of History, John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities, UNL

8:45 AM:  JSTOR’s Role in the Changing World of Scholarly Communication
Michael Spinella
, Executive Vice President, Global Content Alliances & JSTOR Managing Director

9:00 AM:  Discussion

9:15 AM:  AHA’s Perspective on the Changing World of Scholarly Communication
Robert Townsend
, Assistant Director, Research and Publications, American Historical Association

9:30 AM: Discussion

9:45 AM:  Insights from the Scholarly Communication Institute
Abby Smith Rumsey
, Director, Scholarly Communication Institute, University of Virginia

10:00 AM:  Discussion

10:15 AM:  Morning Break

10:30 AM:  Roundtable Discussion: How to Manage Digital Scholarship (Peer Reviewing, Editing, Publishing, Preserving…)
Journal Editors: Eliza Canty-Jones, Editor, Oregon Historical Quarterly; Tamara Gaskell, Historian & Director of Publications and Scholarly Programs, Historical Society of Pennsylvania & Editor, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography; Christopher Grasso, Professor of History, College of William & Mary & Editor, William & Mary Quarterly; David Rich Lewis, Professor of History, Utah State University & Editor, Western Historical Quarterly; John F. McClymer, Professor of History, Assumption College & Editor for Online Projects, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; Willis Regier, Director of the University of Illinois Press; Robert A. Schneider, Professor of History, Indiana University–Bloomington & Editor, American Historical Review; Carl Weinberg, Editor of the OAH Magazine of History

Noon:  Lunch Break

1:00 PM:  Authoring Digital Scholarship: Challenges and Opportunities
Anne Rubin
, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

1:15 PM:  Discussion

1:30 PM:  Roundtable Discussion: Digital History Authorship
Journal Editors and Participants

2:00 PM: Roundtable Discussion: Feasible Next Steps
Journal Editors and Participants

3:15 PM:  Break for Nebraska Digital Workshop public talks

Bios: Editors

This post contains professional biographical information on the history journal editors who will attend and participate in the collaborative efforts of the Sustaining Digital History meeting.

Eliza E. Canty-Jones is Editor of the Oregon Historical Quarterly. She earned a BA from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she was founding co-editor of SlackWater: Oral Folk History of Southern Maryland, and an MA in Pacific Northwest and Public History from Portland State University, where her thesis focused on World War II conscientious objectors and artists. She serves as President of the Oregon Women’s History Consortium, a new organization whose main project, Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote, 1912–2012, is leading the centennial commemoration of Oregon woman suffrage.

Tamara Gaskell is Historian and Director of Publications and Scholarly Programs at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP). As such, she edits the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography and Pennsylvania Legacies. In addition, she oversees HSP’s fellowship and other scholarly programs as well as HSP’s new online digital history projects. She has been at HSP since October 2002. Tamara graduated with a degree in American Studies from Amherst College and received a PhD in American History from Brandeis University, with concentrations in early American history, social history, and women’s history. Prior to coming to HSP, she was assistant editor of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers project, a documentary editing project based at Rutgers University. She has also worked as a reference librarian and as editor of the publications of the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis.

Christopher Grasso is Professor of history at The College of William and Mary and is editor of the William & Mary Quarterly. Grasso earned a BA in journalism and an MA in English at Southern Connecticut State University, studied in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Wesleyan University, and received his PhD from Yale in 1992. He taught for seven years at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, becoming an associate professor in 1998. His book, A Speaking Aristocracy: Transforming Public Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Connecticut was published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press in 1999.  Grasso won the Ralph D. Gray Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic for his article “Skepticism and American Faith: Infidels and Converts in the Early Nineteenth Century,” published in Journal of the Early Republic (Fall 2002).  His specialization is early American religious and intellectual history.

David Rich Lewis (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1988) is Professor of history at Utah State University.  He has been part of the editorial faculty of  the Western Historical Quarterly since 1992, becoming that journal’s Editor in 2003.  He is author of Neither Wolf Nor Dog: American Indians, Environment, and Agrarian Change (Oxford University Press, 1994), numerous book chapters and articles on American Indian ethnohistory, the environment, and Utah history published in journals such as Ethnohistory, Agricultural History, Western Historical Quarterly, American Indian Quarterly, and Utah Historical Quarterly. He is also coeditor of Major Problems in the History of the American West (2d ed., Houghton Mifflin, 1997) and Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian (University of Nebraska Press, 2007).  Lewis’s current research explores Skull Valley Goshute and nuclear waste issues in Utah, and he is general editor of a forthcoming textbook on Utah history. Complete CV and contact information is available at: http://www.usu.edu/history/faculty/lewis/indexlewis.htm .

John McClymer is a professor of history at Assumption College in Worcester, MA as well as editor for online projects for the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and co-editor of H-ETHNIC. He has published eight books, including the American Historical Association’s Guide to Teaching and Learning with New Media, and numerous articles. Two web sites he created or co-created have been selected by EDSITEment as outstanding humanities sites, and he has co-directed two Teaching American History grants for the Worcester Public Schools. The onlineJGAPE has just launched a forum, moderated by Kate Sempsell-Willmann, on using the child labor photographs of Lewis Hine in teaching and research, http://www.jgape.org/node/90.

Willis G. Regier has been the Director of the University of Illinois Press since November 1998.  He holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of Nebraska.   He began his publishing career as the Reviews Editor for the literary journal, Prairie Schooner, and joined the University of Nebraska Press as its Humanities Editor in 1979.  He became Editor-in-Chief at that Press in 1983 and in 1987 was promoted to Director.  He moved to Baltimore in 1995 to become Director of the Johns Hopkins University Press.  In 1998 he was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University.   Regier was twice elected to the Board of Directors of the Association of American University Presses and served as its President in 2000-2001.  He is author of Book of the Sphinx (2004; selected as a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title” for 2005), In Praise of Flattery (2007, with translations into Korean (2008), Italian (2009), and Turkish and Chinese forthcoming), and Quotology (2010).  His articles and reviews have appeared in American Academic, the Baltimore Sun, the Chronicle of Higher Education, French Forum, Genre, the Journal of Scholarly Publishing, Language, Modern Language Notes, Paideuma, World Literature Today, and other journals.

Robert A. Schneider is Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington and also, since 2005, Editor of the American Historical Review. For the academic year 2010-11 he is Distinguished Visiting Professor of History at Bristol University (UK). In march he will also be Visiting Lecturer at the University of Toulouse-Mirail.  He has degrees from Yale, Wesleyan and the University of Michigan. He is the author and editor of several books and articles on early modern French History, including Public Life in Toulouse, 1463-1798 (Cornell, 1989) and The Ceremonial City (Princeton 1995).  He has been visiting fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, and All Souls College, Oxford; and visiting professor at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He has held fellowships from the Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the French Government (Bourse Chateaubriand).  He is currently completing a book manuscript on writers and intellectual in the age of Richelieu.

For the past two years, Carl R. Weinberg has served as editor of the quarterly OAH Magazine of History, published by the Organization of American Historians. He writes a column for each issue and has contributed a number of articles that are available online. See “Does Lincoln Still Matter?” from the January 2009 issue on the Lincoln Legacy:


Or “The Discomfort Zone: Reenacting Slavery at Conner Prairie” from the April 2009 issue on Antebellum Slavery:


He is currently working with consulting editor Matthew Pinsker on an upcoming issue of the Magazine on “Civil War at 150: Origins” that will include a digital history component in conjunction with the House Divided website at Dickinson University. Carl received a PhD in history from Yale University in 1995. He has taught U.S. history at the college level for twelve years, initially at North Georgia College and State University and most recently at DePauw University. He is author of Labor, Loyalty, and Rebellion: Southwestern Illinois Coal Miners and World War I (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005).

Bios: Presenters

Find below professional biographical information on the four esteemed individuals who will make presentations at the Sustaining Digital History meeting. Their presentation title immediately follows their name.

Anne Sarah Rubin (Authoring Digital Scholarship:  Challenges and Opportunities) is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her book A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy (UNC, 2005) received the 2006 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians, for the most original book on the Civil War era. She was a co-author of the award-winning Valley of the Shadow, an interactive history of the Civil War in two communities. She is currently working on a multi-media study of the memory of Sherman’s March, entitled Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and America, for which she received a 2007 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship.  Her website can be found at www.shermansmarch.org.

Abby Smith Rumsey (Insights from the Scholarly Communication Institute) is a historian and consulting analyst with special interest in the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in a variety of media; the impact of digital information technologies on cultural heritage institutions; and the evolving role of information as a public good. She is director of the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia. She works with the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in development of its national strategy to identify, collect, and preserve digital content of long-term value. And she is a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, serving in addition as the senior writer and editor for the task force’s final report. She has served as an advisor to the ACLS Commission on the Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Previously she worked as director of programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, DC; and at the Library of Congress managing programs relating to preservation of and access to cultural heritage collections. She holds a doctoral degree in Russian history from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins Universities. She has published widely on cultural heritage, preservation, and scholarship in the digital age.

Michael Spinella (JSTOR’s Role in the Changing World of Scholarly Communication) is the Executive Vice President for Global Content Alliances at ITHAKA and serves as the managing director of JSTOR.  He is responsible for the strategic direction and coordination of the Current Scholarship Program, an effort initiated by JSTOR and University of California Press to make current and historical scholarly content available on a single, integrated platform.  Prior to working at JSTOR, Spinella served for twelve years as the Director of Membership and Meetings for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as well as the Circulation Director for the AAAS journal, Science.  During this time, one of his responsibilities was developing the initial business model for Science online personal and site-wide licenses.  He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from The George Washington University, a Master of Arts degree in Literature from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary.

Robert B. Townsend (AHA’s Perspective on the Changing World of Scholarly Communication) is the Assistant Director for Research and Publications at the American Historical Association, where he serves as senior staff assistant to the Association’s Research Division, maintains databases and statistics on the historical profession in the U.S., and oversees print and online publications produced at the AHA headquarters office. He is the author or co-author of over 200 articles on various aspects of history, higher education, and electronic publishing in Perspectives on HistoryAHA Today, Chronicle Review, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Resource Center. He received his PhD from George Mason University in 2009, and is currently revising his dissertation under the working title “Making History: Scholarship and Professionalization in the Discipline, 1880–1940.”

Bios: Project Directors

With the Sustaining Digital History meeting fast approaching (October 1, 2010 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), the next three blog entries will introduce the primary participants and staff of this initiative by providing professional biographical information. Up first are the folks from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL).

Douglas Seefeldt, the Director of Sustaining Digital History, is an Assistant Professor of History and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at UNL. He teaches 20th-century U.S. history and specializes in the North American West, Environmental History and Digital History. He took his Ph.D. From Arizona State University in 2001 and spent three years at the University of Virginia as a Woodrow Wilson Academic Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the Virginia Center for Digital History and Media Studies Program and the last two of those as the Director of UVa’s Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Project. His published work, both print and digital, focuses on the intersections of landscape and memory in the American West. He is co-editor, with Jeffrey L. Hantman, and Peter S. Onuf, of the book of collected essays, Across the Continent: Jefferson, Lewis and Clark and the Making of America (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005; paper, 2006). Doug has created the thematic digital archive project, Biddle Edition Archive (www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/lewisandclark/biddle/splash.html), and most recently the digital history project, Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark (jeffersonswest.unl.edu). Seefeldt has recently returned his attention to the mid-nineteenth-century Mormon frontier and resumed work on a thematic digital archive project titled “Horrible Massacre of Emigrants!!”: The Mountain Meadows Massacre in Public Discourse (mountainmeadows.unl.edu), and is currently working on a book manuscript titled “’Let the Book of the Past Be Closed’: The Mountain Meadows Massacre and Public Memory.”

William G. Thomas, III, the Co-Director of Sustaining Digital History, is the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities and Professor of History at UNL. He teaches 19th-century U.S. history and specializes in Civil War, the U.S. South, and in Digital History. He earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Virginia. From 1998 to 2005 he served as the founding Director of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia. He was the Project Manager of The Valley of the Shadow project at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at U.Va. from 1996 to 1998. Thomas is a Lincoln Prize Laureate in 2001 from the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College for the Valley of the Shadow project (valley.lib.virginia.edu/) with Edward L. Ayers and Anne S. Rubin, and with them was awarded the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association in recognition of the project as an outstanding contribution to the teaching of history. Thomas has recently been awarded a Digital Innovation Fellowship in 2008 from the American Council of Learned Societies. He was awarded a fellowship from the British Association of American Studies for 2008-09 and was the Visiting Professor of North American Studies at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. He is currently working on a book titled “The Civil War and the Making of Modern America” (Yale University Press) and a digital project on “Railroads and the Making of Modern America,” a web-delivered set of sources on railroads, technologies, culture, and social change (railroads.unl.edu/).

Brent M. Rogers, the Graduate Assistant on Sustaining Digital History, is a Ph.D. Candidate in 19th Century U.S. History specializing in the American West at UNL. Rogers holds a B.A. in History from San Diego State University and an M.A. in History from California State University, Sacramento. He is currently working on a dissertation titled, “Crossroads of the Antebellum West:  Popular Sovereignty, Federal Power, American Imperial Ideology, and Utah Territory in the 1850s.” Rogers has been awarded research grants from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and the Center for Great Plains Studies to support his dissertation work. Recently, Rogers served as a digital editor on the Papers of William F. Cody project and in this capacity produced a work of digital scholarship titled Buffalo Bill, Rough Riders, and the Manly Image.  He also served as a research associate on Nebraska Newspapers: Digitizing Nebraska’s History and has worked on Digital History.