About the publication
Title: Perspectives on History
Purpose, objective, or mission: Perspectives on History is the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association (AHA); it serves as the, “…principal source for news and information about the discipline of history.”2
Publication Tagline: “Perspectives cultivates the community of historians and promotes our work.” 3
“We strive to be a place for historians across the discipline’s broad spectrum to share their ideas and enthusiasm.” 4
Target audience: Members of the AHA; College and university professors, and K–12 teachers of history; historical administrators; editors; museum professionals; publishers; librarians; and students of history. 5
Publisher: American Historical Association.6
Peer reviewed? No.
Type: Civilian. While some members of the AHA might also be information professionals (and many other members will have a strong understanding of the library profession), most members will not be intimately familiar with the LIS profession.
Medium: Print. Online content is also published under Perspectives Daily.
Content: “We offer articles and commentary on research and archives, teaching, digital projects, new books of note, history in the media, public history and museum exhibitions, and more.” 7
Frequency of publication: “Our print edition is published monthly and online during the academic year, with online-only articles in Perspectives Daily updated regularly all year round. A print subscription is available only with AHA membership.” 8
About the publication’s submission guidelines
Location of submission guidelines: https://www.historians.org/perspectives/submit
Types of contributions accepted: “We do consider full manuscripts, but we prefer to receive pitches to give us a better understanding of the topic and your viewpoint as an author. Potential writers should familiarize themselves with the sort of articles we publish and the sections in which they fit. If a story is immediately relevant to discussions about current events, please flag it as a possible contribution to Perspectives Daily if you envision it being published quickly.” 9
Perspectives on History and Perspectives Daily welcome articles by historians from all kinds of institutions (including but not limited to colleges and universities, K–12 schools, museums, and archives), at all degree levels, and of all professional ranks. They also accept Letters to the editor, In Memoriam essays, and ‘Everything Has a History’ essays. 10
Submission and review process: “Articles for Perspectives on History should normally be about 1,500 words in length. Perspectives Daily articles are about 800–1,000 words, letters to the editor should be no more than 500 words, In Memoriam essays about 650 words, and Everything Has a History essays about 500 words. 11
“While Perspectives on History does commission articles, it also accepts both completed submissions and proposals. Articles and letters are reviewed by the editorial board, and, in the case of article submissions, the board may make suggestions for revisions.” 12
“To ensure that no errors are inadvertently introduced into the text in the copyediting process, the copyedited version of articles accepted for publication may be sent to authors for final approval (when major revisions are suggested). Since both Perspectives on History and Perspectives Daily run on a tight schedule, the editors typically will ask authors to respond within 24 to 48 hours.” 13
Editorial tone: The submission guidelines state a preference for a journalistic or conversational style. In general, the articles in Perspectives on History are written with a semi-formal tone. Additionally, authors are asked to limit the number of citations in their articles.14
Style guide used: “We encourage authors of articles to supply a working title for the essay, although the final determination of headlines, captions, pull quotes, and other forms of “display type” are made by the editors. A brief autobiographical description (25-30 words) should be appended at the end of the article, indicating the author’s institutional affiliation (if any), recent major publications, interests, and so on. Spelling—especially of proper names used in drafts—and all factual information (dates, place names, statistical data, and so on) provided should be verified by the author(s) before submission.” 15
The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.). For copy-editing, the editors also use Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) and the most recent edition of Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. In general, the editors attempt to make an author’s prose as effective as possible, both in the author’s interest and that of our publications. The editors seek to remove redundancies and errors—if any—in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Perspectives on History and Perspectives Daily support the use of gender-neutral language in their articles, except when a change in pronoun would lead to a historical inaccuracy.” 16
Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors
The organization and preservation of information are central to the tasks of both the historian and the LIS professional, and so it is not uncommon for their interests to intersect. Many developments in the Information field would be of interest to historians, especially if those developments were presented specifically for that audience. Such a presentation could generate a significant amount of name recognition if received favorably.
While Perspectives on History is not, strictly speaking, a scholarly publication, it does possess enough prestige that an article printed in it would add weight to a tenure or promotion cause. However, this is not a venue for early-career publishing.
About the publication’s readers
Population circulation: Nearly 15,000.18
Audience location and language or cultural considerations: AHA members are generally based in the United States, and the magazine is published in English.19 AHA members will be familiar with many of the same research terminologies that librarians use, but they will be completely unfamiliar with much of the jargon of information science. Similarly, historians have their own jargon, and an author writing for a history publication would do well to familiarize themselves with it.
Reader characteristics: “… AHA brings together historians specializing in every period, geographic region, and topic of history. Through its scholarly and professional activities, the AHA represents the broad diversity of the historical enterprise today. More than 60 percent of the Association’s members are professors of history, with the remaining 40 percent consisting of students, teachers, administrators, and publishers in the field.” 20
Knowledge of LIS subject matter: As historians, the members of the AHA will generally have a strong understanding of research and research tools. However, they will not be familiar with aspects of LIS subjects outside those that apply to their discipline.
Conclusion: Analysis of reader characteristics and their potential impact on authors
The historians who comprise the membership of the AHA are, like most faculty, very busy people. It is essential, when writing for them, to show them — in their own terms — how you can save time or make their research easier. Perspectives on History is primarily a newsletter, even though it does publish some research-based articles. A librarian writing for this publication would do well to simplify the presentation of their research, and focus primarily on the practical application of their results.
Last updated: October 19, 2020