Engaging History

Caroline Lawrence, John Pace, Lily Mears, and Jackson Foster in Marr's Spring
Crimson Historical Review Fall 2021 executive board members, from left to right: Caroline Lawrence, John Pace, Lily Mears, and Jackson Foster

As the adage goes, “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” but history is not meant to be learned in a bubble. Beyond learning dates and names, understanding historical events requires active interpretation. A living, breathing historical journal provides a powerful platform for students and scholars to engage in discussions and do history. In Spring 2019, with guidance from faculty advisor Dr. Margaret Peacock, co-founders Jackson Foster and Jodi Vadinsky built that platform with the Crimson Historical Review.

Current co-Editor-in-Chief Jackson Foster wanted to fill a journalistic void on campus. The process of writing, editing, and publishing scholarly articles brings many benefits. As the first undergraduate history journal at Alabama’s flagship institution, the Review gives student scholars the opportunity to publish original, peer-reviewed content. The journal’s content has not been in short supply, with unique topics ranging from 20th-century English femininity to NASA’s role in ending segregation. “It produces each semester around one hundred pages of robust scholarship—plural in its inquiry, comprehensive in its breadth, richly-formatted, and ready-to-print,” explained Jackson.

By publishing impressive undergraduate historical research in each edition since its inception, the journal is garnering national and international attention. With a call for papers across the country, few other history journals outpace the Review in the number of submissions. Jackson boasts, “These were sourced from a broad body of students, both geographically—ranging from New Haven to New Delhi—and methodologically—including intellectual, intersectional, and material narratives.” The staggering number of papers has already spilled out of the standard fall-spring publishing cycle into the Review‘s inaugural Summer 2021 special edition.

Managing a burgeoning platform requires exceptional direction and collaboration to ensure continued success. Jackson listed his duties with co-Editor-in-Chief John Pace, “Specifically, we direct executive staff and Review Board members, secure consistent funding sources, and develop guidelines and initiatives to encourage diverse submissions. Moreover, we announce the national call for papers, oversee the peer review and revise-and-resubmit processes, and (try to) guarantee timely publication.” As they are both seniors preparing for graduation in the spring, Jackson and John are also tasked with leaving the journal in capable hands.

While the co-editors-in-chief are currently focused on publishing the Fall 2021 issue, they have big hopes for the Review in the future. “What I want the most is years from now for one of our former Review staff members to come back to this University and come see this little journal still publishing spectacular pieces every semester and think to him or herself, “I am a part of that journal and that journal is a part of me,” said John. For Jackson, he hopes the journal will breathe new life on campus and beyond, “The Review will look to partner with other student-led organizations at UA to create thematic special editions. We will likewise seek funds for a more consistent print circulation – across Alabama, and indeed, the globe.”

History lovers are encouraged to read current and past issues and submit their own content on the Crimson Historical Review‘s website. Students interested in joining the Review team should contact the staff at crimsonhistorical@ua.edu.