Archive for January, 2018

Editing History News

Cover of a 2014 issue of History News

Last week when I returned home from a business trip, the most recent issue of History News was waiting for me. I always enjoy the arrival of the professional periodicals I subscribe to—they keep me engaged in the issues and conversations of my field of work—but this magazine holds a special place for me, since I play a small role in its creation.

History News is the magazine of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), a professional association that supports people who work at history museums, historical societies, and historic sites. It comes out quarterly, and I’ve been reading it for years. Then, in 2014, the organization approached me about managing the production of the magazine temporarily during a staff transition. AASLH was in the process of hiring a new president and CEO, and in the interim, Bob Beatty was serving as acting president as well as covering his regular duties as AASLH vice president of programs. To assist, I was brought on to make sure the magazine production continued in a timely fashion—a role that was usually part of Bob’s job.

For five issues, I edited articles and coordinated layout while Bob continued the task of securing new content. By the end of 2015, AASLH had hired John Dichtl as its new president and CEO; Bob had a new position as AASLH chief of engagement; and my work on the magazine was drawing to a close. I admit, I was sad to see the job end, as I had embraced the opportunity to once again work on the editorial side of a periodical (previously, I served as associate editor of the OAH Magazine of History). Given that, you can imagine my pleasure when, in early 2016, Bob Beatty asked me to continue on with History News, serving as one of two final proofreaders for each issue.

While this is a smaller role that I played during the 2014-2015 transition, I savor the chance to stay engaged with the publication. Every three months, page proofs arrive and I go deep into articles about the public history issues of the moment, reading each piece with a focus far beyond what I would bring if I were simply reading, not editing. Providing editorial services for publications within my field of content expertise is a unique treat, allowing me to apply my copyediting skills and subject knowledge simultaneously. The result is a particular sense of reward for me, and—I hope—a higher-quality product for my client.

Year in Review: 2017

I, for one, enjoy reading all those news articles that come out in late December, reflecting on the year that’s coming to a close. I suppose that’s not that surprising. Being a historian, I see value in compiling a record of events and seeing what insight can be gained from the exercise.

And so, in the spirit of the annual review, I offer here a snapshot of my professional undertakings in 2017.



2017 had me working on a range of projects involving historic preservation, historical research, cultural resources management, interpretation, professional training, career preparation for students, and editing. Two of my most exciting efforts involved a planning charrette at Stonewall National Monument and a National Register nomination for the home of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. In addition, I continued work on numerous projects with the National Park Service.

Jennifer Hottell jumping for joy.

My colleague Jennifer Hottell celebrates the opening of our exhibit at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

In February 2017, a project I’d been working on for some time came to fruition. A Thing of Beauty and a Joy Forever”: The History of Bloomington’s Community Theater, an exhibit I created with Jennifer Hottell and Danielle McClelland, opened February 3, 2017, at the Buskirk Chumley Theater in Bloomington, Indiana. Funded by Indiana Humanities, the exhibit explores the history of the Indiana Theatre, a former movie palace that now operates as the Buskirk Chumley, a performing arts venue in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. 

This fall, I embarked on archival research related to sexuality studies at Indiana University, an effort sponsored by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the IU School of Public Health. I also continued my work with the Indiana University Department of History, providing a variety of career preparation programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

Late in the year, I began a new collaboration with University of Massachusetts Press, one of the leading publishers of work in the field of public history. I will be working with the press to provide editing services, an effort that will supplement the editing I already do for History News, the quarterly publication of the American Association for State and Local History.


Workshops and Talks

Throughout 2017, I gave multiple talks in the United States and United Kingdom. I had the honor of moderating the plenary session of the 2017 National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, “Making LGBTQ History American History: Stonewall National Monument and Beyond.” In addition, I gave lectures at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana; Queer Localities, London; Rutgers University—Newark, New Jersey; and the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.

In my work, I particularly enjoy facilitating training sessions for museum and preservation professionals, and this fall, I was pleased to launch a new two-day workshop entitled “Researching, Preserving, and Interpreting the LGBTQ Past,” the first incarnation of which was held in Philadelphia in December 2017. Earlier in the year, I presented shorter training sessions—in person or via webinar—to Preservation Maryland, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, and the American Association of State and Local History.

I also found myself back in the classroom in May 2017, when I served as a guest lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University, in a course titled “Interpreting, Archiving, and Preserving Freedom Struggles.”



As 2017 comes to a close, I am awaiting the publication of three essays I have written over the course of the year. Each explores a different aspect of historic site interpretation, and I will be sure to make an announcement when each is published. In the meantime, during 2017, I had book reviews published in Museums (Richard Sandell’s Museums, Moralities, and Human Rights) and Choice (Bonnie J. Morris’s The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture), and wrote a third review, which will be published early in 2018 in the Indiana Magazine of History. 

In May 2017, I spent a week as a social media journalist covering the American Alliance of Museums conference in St. Louis. I continue to post regularly on Twitter about topics related to museums, LGBTQ history, historic preservation, and the history of sexuality. Follow me @HistorySue and check my website regularly to discover what new endeavors await in 2018.

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