Students may not frequently toss around opinions about the roles of progressive women in twentieth-century China on the terrace, but Travis Thompson ’11 delves deep into the issue. As one of the five finalists for publication in the James Blair Historical Review, Thompson has focused a large amount of his efforts on the subject.
The James Blair Historical Review is a student-run publication, founded last year by Phi Alpha Delta, a history honors fraternity, to provide history majors with a mode of expression.
Hiroshi Kitamura, faculty advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, also advises the editorial board of the JBHR. As a faculty member of the history department, he links the department and journal together.
“The department was struck by the reminder that we do not have an outlet for our history students,” he said.
Three students, Robert Oehrig ’11, Christina McClernon ’11 and Kyra Zemanick ’13, make up the journal’s editorial board that leads the publication.
“I was a peer reviewer last year because I thought it was interesting,” McClernon said. “When they called for people to be part of the staff this year, I applied and became managing editor.”
As part of the peer review group last year and the editorial board this year, the three members had previous experience that helped them as they were choosing the five papers to be published this year.
“Two weeks ago we had a meeting on what papers would make the final cut for the journal,” McClernon said. “That was the most difficult and enjoyable part of the process.”
Students found that there were many people interested in submitting their papers to the journal. They received 59 submissions on a wide range of topics.
However, the board eventually had to limit the number of papers in this year’s journal, using the peer reviewer’s grades and their own opinions when selecting the top 12. In the end, only five papers made the final cut.
“When I got the e-mail that I was one of the five, I was really, really excited, because I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Kate O’Brien ’11, whose paper focused on silversmiths in Ecuador, said.
Other students were equally excited to hear about their selection.
“It was flattering and real privilege to be published by them,” Thompson said.
The JBHR has the potential to aid many history majors, including those who do not get published in this year’s edition.
“We encouraged people who didn’t get published this year to keep trying,” McClernon said. “It’s another venue for them to make their papers better. It’s also a good way of showing what works in a classroom versus in a journal.”
The nature of the journal excited students who had their papers published.
“I personally really liked what I saw when I looked at the JBHR. And maybe it’s school patriotism or whatever, but I liked being published at the place I went to college,” O’Brien said. “I wanted to give back.”
The journal gives student submitters the opportunity to take part in a process well-known to historians: submissions to journals.
“It gives a certain sense of validation for all the prep work that goes into research,” he said. “It reflects on you as a scholar of history. And it gave me an idea of how a publishing process might work.”
This year’s journal will be published at the end of the semester. The submission process for next year’s publication begins next fall, and students are encouraged to submit their work for the review.
“The amount of people who submitted this year shows how many people care about what we’re doing,” McClernon said.