Q&A with C. Dallett Hemphill, New Editor of the Early American Studies Journal

Elizabeth Patterson BonaparteC. Dallett Hemphill, Professor of History at Ursinus College, is the new editor of Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, taking over from longtime editor Elaine Forman Crane. Dallett graciously agreed to answer a few of our questions about her upcoming editorship.

What areas will you try to focus on with upcoming issues of EAS?

I won’t try to focus on any particular area in the two regular issues; rather, I will try to line up an interesting mix of articles on different topics and from different disciplinary perspectives. One of the reasons I took on this editorship is that I wanted to have a perch from which to follow the development of the field. I’m enjoying reading the varied work that has come in in the past few months and hope to continue the EAS tradition of nurturing and offering original contributions by both junior and senior scholars.

The special issue each year will continue to offer a thematically-unified selection, often the best papers from a recent conference. EAS is a great place to capture the energy of these events, and the guest issues offer an opportunity to vary the editorial perspective as well.

What other journals have you been affiliated with?

I’ve served on the editorial board of the Journal of the Early American Republic, and have enjoyed reviewing books and articles for a variety of American history journals, including the William and Mary Quarterly and the Journal of American History, in addition to Early American Studies.

What is your area of interest in early American studies?

I’m a social and cultural historian by training and experience, with particular interest in age, class, gender and family relations. I’ve written books on manners and sibling relations in America from 1600 to 1860, and am currently at work on a collection of mini-biographies of fascinating early Philadelphians who were not Founding Fathers.

What do you see as the future of scholarly journal publishing?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I am impressed by the way online databases have given print journals a big shot in the arm, by making them so accessible. Whether we continue to produce the paper copies remains to be seen, but the peer-reviewed scholarly journal seems healthier than ever.

Yet I am also interested in exploring the possibilities of a web interface with the journal, to disseminate new materials and reach new audiences. The McNeil Center for Early American Studies has such a wide array of constituents. In addition to its nationwide network of scholars, it also welcomes undergraduate thesis writers and local public historians. I’m hoping the journal can connect with all these groups, and with researchers on the new media frontier, through its webpage.

Do you use an ereader? How much of your research is online vs. going to the library?

I have a NOOK that I find useful when travelling, but I still prefer to curl up with a book! Like everyone else’s my research life has been revolutionized by the internet. I was astonished at the speed at which I was able to do the research for my second book versus my first. I love digging through sources in the wee hours in my pajamas. But I also love combing the shelves in the library and mining the archives. The internet offers speed and search-ability, but there’s nothing like turning the pages of an original document. I’m so blessed to be near Philadelphia, with its incredible libraries and historical societies, and their knowledgeable staffs.

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