What follows is a guest essay by F. Daniel Larkin, Thomas D. Beal, and William S. Walker, the new editors of the academic journal New York History. Editorial functions of the quarterly were recently transferred from the New York State Historical Association to the State University of New York at Oneonta.
In the 1919 inaugural issue of the journal New York History, the iconoclastic progressive historian Carl Becker published an article contrasting Patriot John Jay and Loyalist Peter Van Schaack, which, in an accessible style that appealed to both experts and non-experts, explored central questions of our fledgling democracy. Becker wrote that the story of these New Yorkers offered “a concrete example of the State versus the individual, of personal liberty versus social compulsion, of might versus right.”
From its inception, the journal has been an inclusive venue where a range of people interested in New York State’s history have shared their insights and research. The work of historians at colleges, universities, museums, historical societies, and independent scholars has long found a home in this journal’s pages. Following Becker’s lead, the journal’s new editors (F. Daniel Larkin, Thomas D. Beal, and William S. Walker) plan to continue the tradition of publishing high-quality, accessibly written research that uses New York State’s history as a lens through which to examine the most pressing issues of life in a democratic society.
Different from the journal’s earliest contributors, however, who were primarily concerned with military and political history, the current editors have an expansive vision of the many histories that should occupy the journal’s pages. In the spirit of Mary E. Cunningham, who edited New York History in the 1940s and 1950s and authored a 1947 article, “To the Editor’s Taste: A Survey of Some Neglected Aspects of New York State History,” we seek to publish articles that illuminate all aspects of New York’s diverse history. Cunningham wrote: “We are fond of describing America as the ‘melting pot of the world’ and New York as the crucible of that melting pot and there is much truth in this boast.” Although we would not employ the “melting pot” image, the editors nonetheless embrace the notion that New York was, and continues to be, a meeting ground of many different peoples and a place where peoples and cultures intersect, develop, and change. This history is at the core of both United States history and global history, and, as such, it should be at the center of the state’s historical journal.
The new editors feel privileged to have this opportunity to participate in the re-invigoration of this venerable journal. We anticipate that the new partnership between the New York State Historical Association, which has always produced the journal, and the State University of New York-College of Oneonta, which now assumes editorial oversight, will bear much fruit over the coming years. We hope you enjoy reading the journal and look forward to hearing your feedback.
For more information or to subscribe, visit the New York State Historical Association’s webpage (www.nysha.org) and follow the link at the bottom of the page for New York History.
Note: On the history of the journal New York History, see Wendell Tripp, “Fifty Years of New York History 50, no. 4 (October, 1969): 355-396. Tripp was editor of the journal from 1964 until his retirement in 1999. The journal New York History has been published continuously since 1919. Originally titled The Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association, it has been New York History since 1932. The journal has no formal connection to the daily online news magazine New York History.