Georgia Historical Quarterly – Encyclopedia of New Georgia
The Georgia Historical Quarterlythe scholarly journal of the Georgia Historical Society, has been published continuously since 1917. It continues to serve the purposes set out in its inaugural issue: to collect, preserve, and disseminate Georgia’s history.
The Quarterly began publication in Savannah nearly eighty years after the society was founded in 1839. During the 1910s, the society was plagued with controversy. Influential professional historians, primarily from the University of Georgia, as well as various state heritage groups had become disaffected with the society. They found the main interests and activities of the institution not only antique but parochial. For them, it was more of a ‘historical savannah society’, preoccupied with colonial and revolutionary history. Consequently, in 1916 they began to organize a competing organization, the Georgia Historical Association (GHA). Quickly building a statewide membership base that rivaled that of the society in membership, the GHA also planned to publish its own magazine, the Georgia Historical Review.
With this challenge looming, the QuarterlyThe founders hoped that his fledgling periodical would attract new members. They explicitly expressed hope for a statewide membership expansion, which, in the words of management, “would increase subscriptions, on which the Society depends primarily for its support and effectiveness.”
William Harden, the society’s librarian for more than fifty years, was chosen as Quarterlyfirst editor. As an antiquarian and amateur historian, Harden perfectly represented a major gap in society for members of the GHA, who wanted to replace the antiquarian with the new scientific history. Although Harden served as editor for four years, the Quarterly seemed doomed. Its scholarly articles were few and its page numbers steadily decreased.
Salvation came in 1920. Negotiations led to the merger of the GHA and the society, with their combined membership and the society’s restructured board of directors reflecting what was seen as the society’s new “national character reorganized”. A by-product of the change was the editorial takeover of the Quarterly by professional historians with doctorates and an editor assisted by an editorial board, a practice that continues. The first editor was Percy Scott Flippin of Mercer University (1921-22). After a brief return to Savannah under C. Seymour Thompson of the Savannah Public Library (1923-24), the Quarterly moved to the University of Georgia for the rest of the century.
In 1924, E. Merton Coulter took over editorial management for the next fifty years (1924-1974). A native of North Carolina for whom the history of Georgia became a lifelong passion, Coulter loved the Quarterly and carried out virtually every facet of its output (including writing a large percentage of the articles and book reviews himself). Many of the characteristics most strongly associated with Quarterly date from his tenure: articles with full scholarly apparatus, “Notes and Papers” (often primary sources with annotations), and book reviews criticizing publications relating primarily to Georgia and Southern history.
Accepting the daunting task of succeeding Coulter, Phinizy Spalding maintained the high standards of the periodical during his tenure (1974-1980). Seeming as good-natured and amiable as Spalding himself, the new Quarterly featured bright, casual colors on the cover and engaging introductory editorials inside. Spalding’s successor, Aubrey C. Land, served as acting editor (1981-1982) and interrupted editorials on the grounds that Spalding had “made this great, attractive feature his own”, and that no one ” would tolerate less than he had practiced”. hand.”
The Quarterly rose to the forefront of scholarly publishing under the leadership of Thomas G. Dyer (1982-89) and his associate editor and successor John C. Inscoe (1989-2000). Dyer pioneered design and layout changes that transformed the Quarterly in a beautiful, colorful and profusely illustrated journal. Inscoe has exploited these edits to their full potential, especially with carefully chosen illustrative material for the articles and lots of stunning full color covers. In the meantime Quarterly enjoyed a full-time associate editor, Sheree Dendy. Under Dyer and Inscoe, scholarly solicitation increased the length and size of the periodical without sacrificing quality; for the first time a volume of Quarterly exceeded 1,000 pages. Both publishers have also made effective use of the Quarterly as a learning experience for promising graduate students who will themselves become published historians. The journal received a Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 1999.
In 2000, after several years of restructuring, personnel changes and budgetary difficulties, the company regained direct control of the Quarterly. Under a new system, editorial duties were divided between two professional historians: an editor with a college affiliation, Anne J. Bailey of Georgia College and State University, and an associate editor at the Society’s offices, Stan Deaton. Glenn McNair of Kenyon College became editor in 2010. With the publication of the Quarterly hundredth volume in 2016, the journal was completely redesigned for the first time since 1989. Quarterly continues in the best traditions of its past.
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