Academic Journals

Scholarly Community: Why You Should Participate

This month, I’m sponsoring 10 graduate students as Omohundro Institute Associates. As an OI Associate you will receive a paper copy of the William and Mary Quarterly, a 20 percent discount on OI and UNCPress books, and invitations to OI seminars, conferences, and our not-to-be-missed AHA and OAH receptions. But MOST importantly, you will gain access to one of the best scholarly communities in the world.

In 2004, my undergraduate mentor and advisor, William Pencak, introduced me to my first scholarly community. He told me that as a historian I should have twin goals in my career: produce high-quality work the field can benefit from and be a good, collaborative colleague. He told me being an active member of the larger scholarly community would help me achieve both goals. He then sponsored my first conference paper and my first membership to a professional organization to introduce me to this broader community. 

Bill Pencak was a generous colleague who gave this advice to many of his students and modeled it so we could follow his example. Bill’s advice stands among the best professional advice I’ve ever received and it has played a big and crucial role in my career. The scholarly community Bill introduced me to through my first professional organization membership has provided me with more knowledge about our early American past and has given me opportunities to build my professional network. It’s a network that has come in handy so many times over the years. The people within it have helped me as a graduate student, as an independent scholar in search of a place within the profession, and as a working historian once I found my place. 

In fact, my journey to the Omohundro Institute started because Bill Pencak introduced me to the importance of scholarly community. In 2007, I briefly met another scholar at a conference. This short encounter proved to be enough that I felt comfortable talking to this person when we met again in different venues in 2012 and 2013. And because I had conversed with this person in 2012 and 2013, I felt I could reach out with a request for real assistance when Ben Franklin’s World started to take off and I needed to know how to transform it from a hobby into a professional publication. This professional connection came from my active membership in a scholarly community and it led me to the Omohundro Institute in 2014.

Now in case you aren’t familiar with the rest of my story, the people of the Omohundro Institute generously agreed to share their knowledge with me on what it takes to build a professional publication. They also further offered to help me implement and adapt their advice in ways that worked for my project. Today, Ben Franklin’s World stands as the reigning best history podcast, a podcast that performs in the top 7 percent of all podcasts, and as a publication that is achieving its goal to make great scholarly history available to people outside of the profession. 

All of this success happened because of a chance meeting I made while taking Bill’s advice to become an active member of the scholarly community.

My intent with this drive is twofold: First, I want to pay back Bill’s kindness and honor his memory; Bill passed away in 2013. My hope is that if I introduce you to the Omohundro Institute’s scholarly community you will do what Bill gave me the opportunity to do: read its journal, share your ideas at its conferences, attend its receptions, and work on building your professional network. 

My second goal is quite selfish: I want you to join my primary scholarly community because it benefits me and my colleagues. Many of the great ideas we get for new projects and how we can improve and expand our current projects come from OI Associates. So, I want to hear about your ideas at our conferences and meet you at our receptions. I want you to enjoy the ideas and examples of high-quality work the OI publishes because they will help you generate more ideas. Ultimately, I want to introduce you to this community because I think once you join us, you will stick around for the remainder of your career and help us with our mission to support the production of high-quality scholarship and to get that scholarship out into the world where it can be useful. 

So, if you are a graduate student and would like to join the OI community as an Associate, I will sponsor your membership. Send me an e-mail. Please tell me who you are, what you are working on, which graduate program you are affiliated with, and where the OI can mail your WMQ.

5 Tips That Will Help You Stay Current With Scholarship

rp_iStock_000014949090Small-300x227.jpgDo you struggle to keep up-to-date with new historical research? Anyone who writes about history knows that it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest scholarship.

In this post you will learn about the 5 methods I use to stay current on historical scholarship.


Method 1: Academic Journals

Journals will help you stay current on the latest scholarship.

They provide a wealth of information even if you lack the time to read every article (most historians do).

Open a journal, read its table of contents, and read/skim the articles and book reviews that interest you and/or apply to your research. This technique will help you stay informed.

Here is a list of the academic journals I read/skim.

JournalsGeneral History American Historical Review

Journal of American History

Reviews in American History


Early American History

The William and Mary Quarterly

Journal of the Early Republic

Early American Studies

Journal of Early American History



History of New York

New York History

Hudson River Valley Review

H-NETMethod 2: H-Net

H-Net “creates and coordinates Internet networks with the common objective of advancing teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.”

Through H-Net you can subscribe to over 100 different e-mail lists that focus on different aspects of history. H-Net lists are a great way to learn about history-related jobs, conferences, fellowships, and research. They also provide access to a global network of historians. Historians use H-Net to pose, answer, and discuss questions about scholarship, sources, and interpretation.

H-Net is in the process of transferring to a new, more versatile platform called H-Net Commons. If you can’t find a list for your topic of study on H-Net be sure to check out H-Net Commons.


blogMethod 3: Blogs

Blogs about history will also keep you abreast of scholarship. Some blogs read like newspapers about history and scholarship, others discuss the minutiae of research.

I subscribe to a number of blogs, which I check each morning.


History Organizations

AHA Today by the American Historical Association

History News Network

History @ Work by the National Council on Public History


History Publications

The Journal of the American Revolution

New York History Blog


Archives, Libraries, & Museums

The Past is Present the American Antiquarian Society Blog

The Beehive: The Official Blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Smithsonian Magazine


Historian Blogs (I subscribe to over 35 blogs written by historians. This list comprises the most active blogs. I have listed them in alphabetical order by historian/blogger.)

Boston1775 by J.L. Bell

Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics by Mark R. Cheathem

The Last Campaign: Legislative Branch, Presidential Legacy, and Related Matters by Anthony J. Clark

The Way of Improvement Leads Home by John Fea

In the Words of Women, a group blog kept by independent historians who study women’s history

Keith Harris History by Keith Harris

The Junto Blog: A Group Blog on Early American History

Historiann: History and Sexual Politics, 1492-Present by Ann M. Little

American Studier by Ben Railton 

That Devil History by Jared Ruminski

To Breathe Your Free Air by John D. Wilsey


TwitterMethod 4: Twitter

Many historians tweet information about their work as well as links to articles about new scholarship.


Method 5: Conferences

Try to attend at least one history conference each year.

Even if you can't make it to a conference, peruse the conference program. Conference programs contain paper titles, which will provide you with a good idea about the different research projects historians are working on.


What Do You Suggest?

How do you keep up with the the latest historical scholarship?

Which history blogs do you read?

Leave a comment, send me an e-mail, or tweet me.