U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Digitizing the Radical Historians’ Newsletter

The activism of the Radical Historians’ Caucus at the 1969 American Historical Association meeting is a key episode in the history of the American historical profession, and the events of that meeting certainly did not mark the end of that constituency’s tireless efforts to transform the institutional structures, scholarly scope, and political commitments of both the AHA and the historical profession more generally.

Primary sources detailing the formation, growth and longtime activism of that coalition of radical scholars are of great interest to historians of the late 20th century, historians of higher education, historians of professions and institutions, historians of social thought and social movements.  They are certainly invaluable to historiographers and historians of the historical profession.

Perhaps the richest single primary source connected with the radical historians is their newsletter, published continuously from 1969 to 2002, under a series of titles. First published in the summer of 1969 (months before the contentious annual meeting, and partly as a way of organizing in preparation for it) under the title Newsletter of the Radical Caucus of the AHA, from the second number (Spring 1970) the publication bore the title Newsletter of the Radical Historians’ Caucus.  It was published under that title until issue No. 25 (December 1977), when the title changed to Radical Historians Newsletter.  Beginning with No. 26 (April 1978), the newsletter was published under the auspices of the Mid-Atlantic Radical Historians Organization (MARHO).  The newsletter officially ceased publication in 2002.

There are a handful of libraries in the United States that have the entire print run of the Newsletter – five libraries, if I am reading the WorldCat entries for all versions of the newsletter’s title correctly – and only 46 libraries in the world that have any portion of the newsletter’s run in their holdings.  Thus, access to this extraordinarily important resource in the history of our own profession is fairly limited for scholars who are not able to travel to one of these research libraries.

So it is a great delight to share this exciting news with our readers:  thanks to the kind permission of the MARHO editorial board, and thanks to the generosity of Jim O’Brien, who has lent me his own copies of the entire print run of the Newsletter for this purpose, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History will be digitizing this resource and making it available through our website for research by academics, independent scholars, and general readers.

In making accessible the entire print run of the Radical Historians’ Newsletter, alongside the digitized copies of the Intellectual History Newsletter already available through our website, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History will continue to serve as a crucial curator of resources in historiography and the history of the historical profession.

We are very excited about the opportunity to provide this resource, and we look forward to sharing more details about this project in the weeks to come.