Intelligencer is a blog featuring teaching and research essays as well as news about the organization and its members.

To submit member news or suggest a blog topic, contact Intelligencer editor Melony Shemberger.

PDFs of the Intelligencer in its previous newsletter form can be found at the Intelligencer archive. Visit the News page for press releases on the organization's activities.

  • 19 Apr 2018 7:05 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    We invite presentation proposals for The Fifties and Pop/Visual Culture: Film, Television and Beyond Conference, to be held at Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas) November 9-10, 2018.

    The conference organizers are seeking historically and theoretically intriguing contributions that explore any noteworthy aspect(s) of popular and/or visual culture during the 1950s, whether in the United States or elsewhere, in relation to cinematic, televisual, and other types of media offerings.

    Participants are encouraged to interpret the conference theme quite broadly and innovatively. Possible topics may include (but are certainly not limited to) advertising images and strategies, atomic age depictions, Beat writers, changing traditions and value structures, CinemaScope, cold war culture, containment strategies, desegregation, Elvis Presley, ethnic sitcoms, fashion trends, films noir, James Dean, juvenile delinquency, Levittowns, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, McCarthyism, men in gray flannel suits, mid-century icons and stars, normative gender roles and expectations, the nuclear family, science fiction movies, the studio system, technological innovations, television’s early years, variety shows, UFO scares, and saying what couldn’t be said.

    We encourage submissions from scholars, educators, and students at all levels, and from disciplines including art, communication, cultural studies, film and video studies, history, journalism, LGBTQ studies, literature, media studies, music, political science, popular culture, sociology, television studies, and women’s studies, among others.

    Given adequate participant interest and high-quality submissions, we are hoping to publish selected papers (with author’s permission) in a special collection of essays pertaining to the conference theme.

    Please e-mail presentation proposals containing (a) a one-page abstract with complete contact information (name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and contact telephone number) and (b) a one-paragraph author biography to Professor Kylo-Patrick Hart ( on or before Friday, August 3, 2018.

    Decisions regarding the status of submitted proposals will be made and communicated as quickly as possible following the submission deadline, and certainly no later than August 17, 2018.  For specific inquiries prior to submitting a proposal, please contact Dr. Hart at your convenience by e-mail (

    Contact Info: Kylo-Patrick R. Hart, Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, Texas Christian University

    Contact Email:

  • 19 Apr 2018 7:02 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    (Rutgers University; New Brunswick, NJ, October 4-5)

    War as memory. The fear of war. War as experience. How does culture mark its relationship to organized violent conflict? 

    In 2018, Rutgers’ Nineteenth Century Workshop will address the long-lasting effects of war on nineteenth-century literature and culture. It is a topic we take to be both urgent and of particular scholarly interest to students of the era.

    This year marks the anniversary of the end of the war to end all wars, an epochal struggle with relatively little presence in current popular memory. But this is just one instance where the preoccupation with a military conflict, like its neglect, is in itself a complex cultural matter. The recent and ongoing controversy over the fate of memorials dedicated to the losing side in the American Civil war, the paucity of discussion of the continuing military engagements involved in what has been called the war on terror, and the recent re-awakening of structures of thought and behavior reminiscent of the Cold War—all of these phenomena remind us that what we call victory, loss, and the commemoration of state violence are seldom settled matters.

    The military struggles that define the nineteenth century as a period—the revolutionary violence in America, France, and the Caribbean in the late 18th century and the first global conflagration in the early 20th— are at once political events establishing new social arrangements, and cultural ones provoking reflection, memory, and debate.

    And yet, the place of military conflict in the cultural imagination varies strikingly depending on specific national traditions. European wars look different from the vantage point of the far reaches of Empire, as does the struggle over New World territory from the perspective of the enslaved or the newly emancipated. The nationalisms that emerged all over the world in the period bore a complex relationship to both colonial expansion and domestic revolt. As none of England’s many nineteenth-century wars took place on its soil, the involvement of the general population was intermittent and highly mediated. By contrast, a civil war that caused the death of more Americans than any foreign struggle explicitly structures the study of nineteenth-century American literature and culture, installing a sharp break in the middle of the century and recasting narratives of national and regional belonging on either side of this divide.

    We welcome papers from all humanistic disciplines that address how war has shaped our understanding of the nineteenth century and its legacy. Topics may include: the feelings of war; the role of knowledge, information, and ignorance in shaping the experience and memory of war; the ethics of violence; the language of conflict; the temporality of war; and the politics of remembrance. We are also interested in the role of military conflict in shaping the experience of peace, including questions of complicity and resistance.

    Essays will be circulated in advance to all participants; the workshop format will permit the focused discussion of these essays across two days of convivial conversation. Workshop participants will include nineteenth-century scholars from various fields—history, art history, the history of philosophy, and a broad range of modern literatures—at Rutgers and in the greater NY/NJ area.  The workshop will cover the travel and housing expenses of those chosen to present their work.

    Applications should be addressed to Jonah Siegel and sent to by Tuesday, May 1; please use the subject line “Nineteenth-Century Workshop 2018” to ensure your application arrives at the proper destination. Applications should include a description of the proposed paper (1-2 pages) and a brief cv (no more than 3 pages); they will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary group of scholars. Applicants will be notified by mid-May if they will be included in the program

    Contact Info: 

    Proposals to:

    For information:

    Contact Email:


  • 19 Apr 2018 7:00 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    Tenth Anniversary Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway, 9-10 November 2018

    ‘The gallery in which the reporters sit has become the fourth estate of the realm’ wrote Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1843. The role of the press in informing or influencing, misleading or educating voters has been debated before and since Macaulay’s statement. In 2018 the question of the role and influence of the established press in referendums and elections is as relevant as ever. Marking the centenary of the 1918 general election in Britain and Ireland, 2018 presents a pertinent point to examine these questions.

    Held in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, the 1918 general election was the first under the Representation of the People Act where franchise, with some limitations, was extended to women over thirty and men over twenty-one. In Britain it was a successful election for the wartime coalition government and saw a significant increase in Labour’s share of the vote, though not seats. In Ireland there was a landslide victory for Sinn Féin, who largely wiped out the Irish Parliamentary Party, and went on to form the abstentionist First Dáil. It also saw the first election of a woman to the Westminster parliament, though as a Sinn Féin candidate Countess Markievicz did not take her seat. The parties and perspectives involved in the election all had their supporters and critics in the press: the establishment as represented by the coalition, the Labour movement, the spectrum of radical and socialist organisations, Irish nationalism and the women’s suffrage movement.

    The Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland (NPHFI) invites papers that interrogate the press and the vote from a range of disciplinary perspectives. The focus of papers should be on print media and / or its intersection and interaction with other forms of media insofar as they relate to the history of print.

    Papers are not required to specifically address Britain or Ireland, or the 1918 general election; they may address any historical period, up to and including the present day, and any geographical region or regions. Topics that may be addressed include, but are not limited to:

    • The press as an institution of electoral democracy.
    • The press and electoral propaganda and disinformation.
    • The press in landmark votes and referendums.
    • The press and post-war elections.
    • The press and the extension or restriction of franchise.
    • The press and women’s suffrage.
    • The Vote as an instrument of social change for the women’s suffragist and labour press.

    To submit a proposal please email an abstract of no more than 250 words to the NPHFI secretary, Dr James O’Donnell, at

    Abstracts must contain a clear title and present clearly the main thesis / argument proposed. Each abstract must also include name(s), affiliation, institutional address and email address(es) of the author(s).

    Deadline for submission of abstracts: 7 June 2018.

    The Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland seeks to achieve gender balance on its conference panels and welcomes proposals from researchers of all career stages working in academia, media, and in professional organisations.

    Hosted by the Moore Institute in association with the Centre for the Investigation of Transnational Encounters (CITE) and the Irish Centre for the Histories of labour and Class (ICHLC), and with thanks to the support of Gale Primary Sources.

  • 19 Apr 2018 6:55 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    Oral History Summer School was established in Hudson, New York, in 2012, as a rigorous training program to help students from varied fields––writers, social workers, radio producers, artists, teachers, human rights workers––make use of oral history as an ethical interview practice in their lives and work. OHSS has two workshop this spring/summer which are now accepting applications. 

    Full information about OHSS and the workshops can be found, below: 

    Oral History Summer School is a cross-disciplinary program in Hudson, New York that offers training in oral history methodologies and documentary approaches. We host foundational workshops as well as advanced training on focused topics such as memory loss, mixed ability interviewing, song collection, family history, and trauma narratives/testimony. Oral History Summer School is offering two new workshops in Upstate New York (Hudson), this spring/summer.

    Experimental Ethnographies: Oral History Remixed (May 15-24, 2018) 

    Instructors: Suzanne Snider (Oral History Summer School), Todd Shalom (Elastic City), Michael Garofalo (Storycorps), LJ Amsterdam (Ruckus Society)

    Oral History Intensive + Oral History & Care (June 18-29, 2018) 

    Instructors: Suzanne Snider (Oral History Summer School), Ry Garcia-Sampson (Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University), Daniel Cogan (NP, Aspire Health)

    Additional workshop details and application forms can be found, here


    *Because summer is a busy season, upstate, OHSS has reserved a number of housing options well below market rate; early applicants will have widest range of affordable options.

  • 19 Apr 2018 6:53 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    The Indiana University Media School is organizing a symposium around the launch of the fully digitized collection in IU’s Roy W. Howard Archive. This influential journalist and newspaper publisher ran the United Press and the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain in the first half of the twentieth century, and IU has housed a substantial collection of his papers since 1983. The collection is being digitized and will be available for online viewing and research this year.

    To celebrate this rich resource, the Media School will host a symposium for researchers, archivists, journalists and others interested in Howard’s legacy, the broader history of twentieth century journalism, and the increasing availability of digitized archival sources for historical research.

    The symposium will be in October 2018 on IU’s beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, campus and will feature paper sessions, a roundtable discussion on archives and digitization, and a showcase panel of senior scholars who have used the Howard Archive. The symposium is funded by generous support from the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Howard family.

    Read the full paper call and other details at the symposium website:

  • 12 Apr 2018 8:12 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    By Will Mari, Northwest University 

    On a warm June morning in 2017, I found myself standing in a small classroom in the green foothills of Kigali, Rwanda, teaching students about American journalism history. 

    I got there partially thanks to the AJHA's generous Joseph McKerns Research Grant, which I received in the fall of 2016. It helped to subsidize what had originally been intended as a fact-finding trip for a research project. That project was supposed to have been an oral-history of the English-speaking newspapers in the land-locked, mountainous east African country. 

    When I arrived in mid-May, however, I quickly realized that the very large scope of my project, and the political sensitivities of conducting it before the country’s upcoming elections, made my first idea unlikely, and looked for other ways to spend my time there. 

    Fortunately, I was soon contacted through a close colleague, about a summer teaching opportunity for Ejo Youth Echo (EYE), a nonprofit that trains high-school and college students in media work. EYE receives both local, regional and some international funding, including from the German government, and produces programs for the Voice of America. The Cold War history of this latter organization is something I’m intrigued by, especially its role in American media engagement in the developing world during that era, and its connections to local broadcasters and producers such as EYE. 

    When the volunteers at EYE asked me to co-teach a summer class on the history of American journalism, and a parallel class on media writing, the timing and connection to my own interest thus worked out well. 

    As EYE is also interested in cultivating critical-thinking and media-literacy skills, I focused on retooling my courses in these topics for Rwandan students. I taught about 10-12 students three times a week in the mornings, at EYE’s studio in Kigali, for a month beginning in early June. 

    The students, who ranged in age from their late teens through their mid-twenties, about half men and half women, were attentive and engaged, especially with the history part of the class. Several were studying journalism at local colleges and universities. Most of them were also actively volunteering to produce radio content for EYE. 

    Truthfully, I learned as much from them as they did from me, if not more. While at first shy, they soon opened up and asked me and my fellow instructor to coffee after we were finished around noon each day, and liked to ask questions about how journalism works, or doesn’t work, in the U.S. We, in turn, asked them about their lives and aspirations, and about how journalism functions in Rwanda and East Africa. As I rode the back of a moto (motorcycle taxi) to the nonprofit’s house-classroom in the mornings, and then in the afternoons afterward, I felt at turns excited and intimidated: teaching students in another culture and through a language barrier helped me learn to slow things down, provide more context, and listen better (something I’m still working on). 

    The second half of the course, on the basics of media-writing and AP style, was more challenging. We had the students write basic news and features stories, and practice interviewing techniques. Because many of them were working or attending other classes, or just weren’t used to some of my presumptions about length and number of sources, for example, the results were uneven. If I was to teach the class again, I might either spend more time on shorter, in-class assignments to prepare them for the longer stories, or double-down on the media-law and history-side of the course. I’d also assign more videos to watch, or shorter reading assignments. 

    Ultimately, however, I am grateful for the opportunity the McKerns Grant provided: to learn more about how other places “do” their journalism and teach it to the next generation. I also made some valuable future connections for what I hope to be a history of the VOA in the developing world. I should thank Michael Fuhlhage, the AJHA's research chair, for his encouragement to pursue this alternative path for the grant, and the AJHA itself, for affirming the role of media-history and journalism-education around the world.


    Will Mari is an assistant professor at Northwest University (Kirkland, Wash.) and AJHA's Membership co-chair and social-media coordinator

  • 10 Apr 2018 2:20 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    A Graduate Student Testimonial

    By Patti Piburn

    Trepidation. That’s what I felt as I boarded a plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport heading for Little Rock, Ark. I was going to present a paper at the American Journalism Historians Association conference. I had a mix of business casual in my carry-on and a mix of excitement, fear and anxiety in my heart. I didn’t know what to expect. How was I going to fit in with all the “real” historians attending the conference? What had I gotten myself into? 

    I had a similar feeling after graduation when I was driving to New Mexico to start my first job as a reporter. Everything I owned was packed in a U-Haul moving truck. I had just finished a B.A. in broadcast journalism and a B.S. in Political Science at Arizona State University. Now it was time to put all that learning to work. Time to practice journalism, in a newsroom with “real” reporters. What had I gotten myself into? In spite of my trepidation, I found a supportive, nurturing group of journalists in New Mexico and a welcoming community. It was a sort of boot camp experience, and as rookie reporters, we bonded in our struggles. 

    That same feeling came back to me in 2006 when I walked into a classroom of college students for the first time as a lecturer. After ten years practicing journalism in a newsroom, here I was practicing teaching journalism in a classroom. Once again, I found a supportive, nurturing group of colleagues who helped me find my footing as an instructor. And, a welcoming campus community at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Much like my first year reporting in New Mexico, and true to the university’s motto, teaching was certainly a “learn by doing” experience for me. 

    In 2016 I walked into an ASU classroom with that same anxious, excited, and fearful feeling. I had quit my job at the local NPR affiliate station where I lived in California, agreed to teach for Cal Poly online, packed up everything I owned, and there I was back in Arizona. I looked around the room at my fellow Ph.D. students wondering once again, what had I gotten myself into? In my cohort I found a supportive, nurturing group of friends, and a welcoming community at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

    There I sat on the plane taking another step in my journey, feeling anxious, fearful and excited all at once. That familiar feeling of trepidation. I had never done any historical research until I wrote the paper I would be presenting in Little Rock. The moment I arrived at the check-in desk at the hotel, I realized AJHA is a friendly and welcoming community. I met a diverse array of supportive and nurturing scholars and Ph.D. students. There was so much experience packed into one place. That feeling of what have I gotten myself into quickly evaporated. 

    From the paper presentations, panel discussions and social gatherings, the fabulous dinner at the Clinton Presidential Library, to the tour of Little Rock High School, it was an invaluable week. I couldn't have found a more welcoming or supportive group of people, I mean historians. “Real” historians. What I aspire to be.

  • 05 Apr 2018 9:44 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    The American Journalism Historians Association invites paper entries, panel proposals, and abstracts of research in progress on any facet of media history for its 37th annual convention to be held Oct. 4-6, 2018, in Salt Lake City, Utah. More information on the 2018 AJHA convention is available at

    The deadline for all submissions is June 1, 2018

    The AJHA views journalism history broadly, embracing print, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, and other forms of mass communication that have been inextricably intertwined with the human past. Because the AJHA requires presentation of original material, research papers and panels submitted to the convention should not have been submitted to or accepted by another convention or publication. 


    Authors may submit only one research paper. They also may submit one Research in Progress abstract but only on a significantly different topic. Research entries must be no longer than 25 pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, not including notes. The Chicago Manual of Style is recommended but not required.

    Papers must be submitted electronically as PDF or Word attachments. Please send the following: 

    An email with the attached paper, saved with author identification only in the file name and not in the paper. 

    A separate 150-word abstract as a Word attachment (no PDFs) with no author identification. 

    Author’s info (email address, telephone number, institutional affiliation, and undergraduate student, graduate student, or faculty status) in the text of the email. 

    Send papers to

    Authors of accepted papers must register for the convention and attend in order to present their research. 

    Accepted papers are eligible for several awards, including the following: 

    David Sloan Award for the outstanding faculty research paper ($250 prize).

    Robert Lance Award for outstanding student research paper ($100 prize).

    Jean Palmegiano Award for outstanding international/transnational journalism history research paper ($150 prize)

    J. William Snorgrass Award for outstanding minority-journalism research paper.

    Maurine Beasley Award for outstanding women’s-history research paper.

    Wally Eberhard Award for outstanding research in media and war ($50 prize). 

    Research Chair Erin Coyle ( of Louisiana State University is coordinating paper submissions. Authors will be notified in mid-July whether their papers have been accepted. 


    Preference will be given to proposals that involve the audience and panelists in meaningful discussion or debate on original topics relevant to journalism history. Preference also will be given to panels that present diverse perspectives on their topics. Entries must be no longer than three pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, with one-inch margins. Panel participants must register for and attend the convention. 

    Panel proposals must be submitted electronically as PDF or Word attachments. Please include the following: 

    A title and brief description of the topic.

    The moderator and participants’ info (name, institutional affiliation, student or faculty status). 

    A brief summary of each participant’s presentation.

    Send proposals to

    No individual may be on more than one panel. Panel organizers must make sure panelists have not agreed to serve on multiple panels. Panel organizers also must secure commitment from panelists to participate before submitting the proposal. Moderators are discussion facilitators and may not serve as panelists. Failure to adhere to the guidelines will lead to rejection of the proposal. 

    Panelists may submit a research paper and/or research in progress abstract.

    Tracy Lucht ( of Iowa State University is coordinating the panel competition. Authors of panel proposals will be notified in mid-July whether their panels have been accepted. 


    The Research in Progress category is for work that will NOT be completed before the conference. Participants will give an overview of their research purpose and progress, not a paper presentation, as the category’s purpose is to allow for discussion and feedback on work in progress. RIP authors may also submit a research paper on a significantly different topic. 

    For research in progress submissions, send a blind abstract of your study. Include the proposal title in the abstract. The abstract should include a clear purpose statement as well as a brief description of your primary sources. Abstracts must be no longer than two pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, with 1-inch margins, excluding notes. 

    Primary sources should be described in detail in another double-spaced page. 

    Entries that do not follow these guidelines will be rejected.

    The AJHA Research in Progress competition is administered electronically.

    Proposals must be submitted as PDF or Word attachments, saved with author identification ONLY in the file names and NOT in the text of the proposal. 

    Each proposal must be submitted as an attachment, with author’s info (name, project title, telephone number, email address, institutional affiliation, and student or faculty status) in the text of the email.

    Send research in progress proposals to Authors will be notified in mid-July whether their proposals have been accepted.

    Authors whose work is accepted must register for and attend the convention. 

    Keith Greenwood ( of University of Missouri is coordinating the Research in Progress competition. 

  • 05 Apr 2018 9:39 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    The board of trustees at Albright College approved the promotion of Jon Bekken to full professor in January 2018; the promotion will take effect with the Fall 2018 semester.

    Joel J. Campbell and Kristoffer D. Boyle, Brigham Young University School of Communications, published “Artemus Ward: The Forgotten Influence of the Genial Showman’s Mormon Lecture on Public Opinion of Mormons in the United States and Great Britain,” in The Journal of Popular Culture, October 2017 (Vol. 50, Issue 5, pp. 1107-1126).

    Caryl Cooper, Alabama, and Aimee Edmondson, Ohio, met up at the University of Alabama where Cooper gave a civil rights history tour to Edmondson’s Ohio students as part of Edmondson’s Civil Rights & Media class. Edmondson took her students on a week-long civil rights tour through the South during Spring Break and Cooper gave a tour of the key civil rights history sites at Alabama. Edmondson notes that she and Cooper met through AJHA, and Ohio and Alabama came together to learn/teach some history!

    David Copeland was named Elon University’s sixth Distinguished University Professor in a ceremony in November 2017. The award is given to senior university faculty upon occasion by the university’s president who solicits nominations from the faculty to honor teaching, scholarship, leadership, and service to the Elon University community. Elon was founded in 1889.

    David Dowling, associate professor at the University of Iowa, is author or co-author of five recent or forthcoming articles. They are: Dowling, David. “Emerson in Media Studies and Journalism” in Approaches to Teaching Emerson’s Essays and Other Works, ed. Sean Meehan and Mark Long. Modern Language Association, (in press) 2018; Dowling, David. “Emerson’s Newspaperman: Horace Greeley and Radical Intellectual Culture, 1836-1872” Journalism & Communication Monographs 19.1 (Spring 2017); Dowling, David. “Banned in Britain: Marilynne Robinson’s Radical Environmental Journalism,” under review at Literary Journalism Studies; Subin Paul [student author] and David Dowling, “Ghandi’s Newspaperman: T.G. Narayanan and the Quest for an Independent India, 1938-1946,” (in press) Modern Asian Studies; and David Dowling and John Haman [student author], “New Horizons for TeachingJournalism History: A Multimedia Approach” American Journalism 34.3 (2017): 353-362.

    Kate Dunsmore, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University, is now Director of the department's MA in Communication Program.

    Michael Fuhlhage was awarded the Bernard Brock Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Communication for 2017 by the Department of Communication at Wayne State University, where he is assistant professor.

    Former AJHA President and Founding Member Mike Murray was voted UM Board of Curators' Distinguished Professor Emeritus by the four-campus University of Missouri governing board, meaning he will retain his office on the St. Louis campus and also continue teaching one section of "Media History.” Mike was honored by UM System President Mun Choi -- with family members at a MU vs. Florida game. He also recently published the 5th edition of Media Law & Ethics (New York: Routledge / Taylor & Francis, 2018) along with long-time co-author Roy L. Moore, plus J. Michael Farrell and Kyu Ho Youm (Oregon). 

    Teresa Styles, Morehouse College, was a panelist at the Georgia Bar & Media Judiciary Conference in Atlanta titled, “Georgia Judges, Journalists and Lawyers And the First Amendment.” Panelist Tony Maddox of CNN International, Kevin Riley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kevin Sack of The New York Times joined Styles on the topic of the “Cultural Challenges to the First Amendment: The Next Generation, Hate Speech and Fake News.” The moderator was Ron Thomas of Morehouse College.

    Ronald R. Rodgers, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Department of Journalism, University of Florida, is publishing this month his long-awaited book, The Struggle for the Soul of Journalism: The Pulpit versus the Press, 1833-1923. The publisher, the University of Missouri Press, writes, “Ronald R. Rodgers examines several narratives involving religion’s historical influence on the news ethic of journalism: its decades-long opposition to the Sunday newspaper as a vehicle of modernity that challenged the tradition of the Sabbath; the parallel attempt to create an advertising-driven Christian daily newspaper; and the ways in which religion—especially the powerful Social Gospel movement—pressured the press to become a moral agent. The digital disruption of the news media today has provoked a similar search for a news ethic that reflects a new era—for instance, in the debate about jettisoning the substrate of contemporary mainstream journalism, objectivity. But, Rodgers argues, before we begin to transform journalism’s present news ethic, we need to understand its foundation and formation in the past.”

  • 05 Apr 2018 9:24 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    Although the American Civil War has received extensive scholarly attention, surprisingly little scholarly work has been devoted to western newspapers and their experiences with secession, the war and the start of the Reconstruction era. 

    Professors Debra Reddin van Tuyll and Mary (Cronin) Lamonica are producing a two-volume edited work on the topic, and we need a few more chapter authors. One volume examines the press of the Midwestern region and the second book examines the far West. The volumes, collectively, will cover an area stretching from Ohio (considered the frontier at the time of the war) to the states and territories on the Pacific Coast. 

    Midwestern editors and their western counterparts were not immune from the war or its impact.  A number of skirmishes and some battles occurred across the frontier. Southern sympathizers abounded, and recruiters for the Union and Confederate armies ranged across the western states and territories, looking for hale and hearty men to serve. Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio had to deal with both Confederate supporters and Federal recruitment and military incursions. Mining camps throughout the Rocky Mountain frontier had similar problems, with law enforcement often having to separate Northern and Southern miners. 

    The volumes also will examine home front issues. Western migration continued, towns were established and mining camps were booming. But the onset of war also meant shortages of supplies in frontier communities. Because western states and territories sent units to fight in the war, newspapers had to serve audiences anxious for war news. And, most publishers had to provide that news without a dedicated corps of reporters. 

    Midwestern and western editors also faced problems meeting that demand due to the lack of communication infrastructure. Without railroads and telegraph lines in much of the western United States, news, whether war-related or political, was slow to reach western editors. Editors faced equal difficulty in getting their frontier concerns to politicians and military officials back east.

    This two-volume series will examine the Midwestern states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri in Volume 1. Volume 2 will focus on the far western states and territories, including the Dakotas, Oregon, California, Texas, Washington (which included Idaho and some of Montana), Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Kansas. (Indian Territory did not have a press during the war years, although it will be mentioned throughout the book as several battles occurred there, and Native American families were devastated physically and emotionally by the war).   

    The volumes focus primarily on Union-supporting states and territories, with the exception of Texas and the divided state of Missouri. Supporters and opponents of the Union and of the Confederacy lived in the Midwest and the far west, a reality that led to lively politics, confusion and fear (at times), skirmishes and battles, and lively editorial practices. 

    The two-volume set will be arranged thematically and will roughly parallel the work of Debra Reddin van Tuyll’s 2012 work, The Confederate Press in the Crucible of the American Civil War. Van Tuyll’s work was grounded in the notion that press function is determined by its political and social environment. Additionally, just as the press is influenced by its society, it influences its society to develop politically, socially, and economically in particular ways. 

    Van Tuyll’s book offered a thematic history of the Confederate press as an important social structure in the nascent Southern slave republic. In that book, then, van Tuyll looked at the social, political, economic and legal environment of the Confederate press. Additionally, she explored who was reading the newspapers that southern journalists were producing, as well as who those producers were. 

    The new two-volume work examines the social, economic, political, cultural, and intellectual history of the Midwestern and western press during the Civil War. The work should be grounded in primary sources, including archival material such as letters, diaries, newspaper business records (when they can be found), readership and advertising records (when they can be found) as well as the newspapers themselves. It will be important that the book examine how western editors covered both the war and home front issues and that looks at the public’s responses to the war. Therefore, the editors encourage authors to examine primary source material from citizens, politicians, business leaders and members of the press to provide as well-rounded a view of news and information from 1860 through Reconstruction as possible. 

    The public’s response is particularly important, because as historian Alice Fahs noted in her work, The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865, the press, collectively, helped shape a cultural politics of the war. 

    The two-volume set will be a scholarly, yet readable work that reaches a wide audience. Authors’ work should be completed by November 2019. A panel presentation at either AJHA or the Symposium on the Nineteenth-Century Press, the Civil War and Free Expression in Chattanooga will be planned, as well. The authors anticipate finding a university press for this work—perhaps Oxford University Press, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, or even the University of California Press. A full prospectus is available from either editor. Email us at or

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