Historian Wanted


In the May, 2016, issue of the AHA’s magazine Perspectives on History there is an absolute gem of a silly job advertisement.  Well, to echo the text, it is not a “job offering” but a “relationship that would offer income supplementation.” Sounds a bit sketchy. What kind of relationship is this?

At any rate, the author of the ad is convinced that he (or she?) has valuable manuscripts that could be published in such journals as (que list of top journals) if only someone could help re-write them. Historians, know, however, that writing up research is the hardest part of the job. In short, this person is basically asking someone else to do all of the work for them. Let me tell ya, I’ve got a bunch of good ideas too, and if anyone wants to write them up and publish them in the Journal of American History for me, I’ll grant you co-author status. Any takers?

To the credit of the author of the ad, he (or she?) admits that he (or she?) is not a trained historian. What the ad demonstrates though is how easy those not trained in history think it is to published in top history journals. Everyone is the field knows that you cannot just send a manuscript to the American Historical Review and have any hope for publication. The AHR probably publishes less than 3% (I’m guessing) of articles submissions, and a good deal of those that are accepted are probably (again, I’m speculating) from politically- or personally-connected students in top-ranked programs.

Given the deplorable state of the job market for historians, I bet a dozen Ph.d. historians in the Boston-area will probably follow up on this ad. Then again, many of them would probably also respond to a craigslist ad offering a quarter per page for an trained historian to edit and revise a 1,000-page manifesto about how Abraham Lincoln was actually half-sasquatch.




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