Hope Shannon Serves as Guest Editor of History News
Hope Shannon, a PhD student in the Public History and US History program, recently served as guest co-editor of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) newsletter, History News. This Winter 2018 issue focused on emerging museum professionals. In the interview below, Hope Shannon reflects on her experience. Read the publication here!
Q: How did you become involved in editing History News?
A: I was the chair of AASLH's Emerging History Professionals (EHP) Affinity Community from 2015-2017, which is how I met Hannah Hethmon and Bob Beatty. Hannah worked for AASLH at the time (she left for a Fulbright overseas in 2017) and one of her duties was to serve as the AASLH staff liaison to our affinity community. As a result, I and others involved in the EHP group worked closely with Hannah on matters pertaining to emerging and early career professionals. In early 2017, Bob Beatty, then AASLH's Chief of Engagement and History News editor, had the idea to hand an issue of History News over to EHPs. Soon after, Bob asked me and Hannah if we would co-guest edit this special issue and the ball rolled forward from there.
Q: How did you make decisions about what to include as content?
A: We wanted content that touched on matters of particular interest to emerging and early career professionals. The articles we included present EHP perspectives on a broad array of issues in public history and museums. One of the pieces addresses problems with labor practices across public history and adjacent fields and another explores how academic-public partnerships can better prepare history PhD candidates for public-facing work. Three additional articles present case studies about topics of critical importance to our field and of particular interest to early career professionals. Hannah and I also both contributed content related to our respective areas of interest and expertise and invited resume and cover letter experts to craft this issue's technical leaflet. This content isn't of interest solely to early-career people-- it's intended for people at any stage of their career-- but what we hope the issue does is highlight things that early-career people are particularly passionate about and draw attention to their unique perspectives about ongoing debates.
Q: In what ways was your editorial position a learning experience for you?
A: It was a learning experience in several ways. First, it was a good exercise in project management. The path from Bob's initial concept to final publication and distribution involved many individual steps and deadlines across the better part of a year. There were a lot of moving pieces involving more than a dozen people. Frequent check-ins with Hannah, guidance from Bob, and attention to detail and to the needs of contributors helped us stay on target throughout the process. It was also the largest publication I've been involved with on the production side. I've worked on the production of smaller organizational newsletters before, but nothing on the scale of History News, and so it was instructive to see what went into bringing something of that size and reach together.
Q: What was most rewarding about this process?
A: One of the most rewarding things was working with and being inspired by such a hard-working and creative group of people. And then, of course, seeing the finished product at the end was kind of surreal. We hoped it would provoke discussion about some of the field's most pressing and enduring issues, and, though it was only released a short time ago, it seems to have done that to some extent. I'm looking forward to talking about it with people at the National Council on Public History annual meeting in April and then again at AASLH's own annual conference in September to get a better sense of its broader impact.