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.