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Follow-Up On The "Call To Action"

January 19, 2007

With regard to the “U.S. Intellectual History: A Call To Action” post from a few days ago, today I sent the note below to H-Ideas. – TL

Dear David Marshall & Fellow H-Ideas Subscribers:

In the past two days I have received numerous, off-list replies to my original posting. First, thank you very much. I felt I might be on to something with “the call,” but had no idea how near the mark I might be. While a few replies offered appropriately cautionary caveats, the majority of those compelled to write have offered enthusiastic endorsements for “action.” With that in mind, I propose the following:

– 1. The creation of a listserv which I have tentatively – and simply – titled “H-USIntellectual.” Today I submitted a rudimentary application form to H-Net with this in mind. However, I want to affirm in an unqualified fashion that this new listserv should be viewed as a partner with H-Ideas, a sister listserv if you will: the new creation is to serve a particular, but long-term, need.

The task of creating a new listserv is a somewhat more complex task than anticipated, but I’m willing to be the primary worker, or what H-Net calls the “lead editor.” What I do need, however, are fellow editors and an advisory board – which means a qualified ~team~. Since I am a junior scholar, my hope is that at least one or two scholars with a longer history in the field, a semi-“doyen” if you will, will volunteer for the advisory board. That said, all willing and able volunteers will be considered. I have little to no standing in the field, so my criteria for inclusiveness are wide open.

– 2. Plans should be made to form either a caucus or panel within an existing, related society (such as OAH, ISIH, or AHA) to discuss the need for a permanent structure, or structures, that address the needs of U.S. intellectual historians. This may or may not result in the creation of a separate society.

– 3. Somehow, some way an annual or bi-annual conference on U.S. soil for U.S. intellectual historians needs to be organized. It must be regular and on U.S. soil to be affordable for aspiring and junior scholars. To do this, a planning committee needs to formed where technicalities of that endeavor can be addressed. I am most unfamiliar with this process.

– 4. Although JHI, IHR, and MIH allow U.S. intellectual topics, and accept work (in theory) by junior scholars, further short-term consideration needs to be made about another peer-reviewed journal with lower barriers to entry for ~aspiring~ intellectual history scholars. With the appearance of IHR and, as Martin Burke noted on my web log, JHI’s renewed interest in U.S. intellectual history topics, this may be unnecessary. We’ll see.

That’s “all” for now. Again, thank you all for your enouragements and suggestions.



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  1. John permalink

    You mention a possible “entry-level” journal for US intellectual history. While it is a lot of work, there are options for starting up an online journal (I would encourage you to make it open access – it's less work and creates more visibility). I would be willing to help you pursue this avenue if you are interested and committed.

    John Russell
    University of Oregon Libraries


  2. John: Thanks a million for the suggestion. We'll keep it in mind as we proceed further. – TL


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