FIELD NOTES

The Western Historical Quarterly publishes a feature called “Field Notes” that addresses public history and the art of doing history. Field Notes is an invited essay of 2,000 to 2,500 words, one that is written as a professional experience with, assessment of, and/or advocacy for a particular subject, place, resource, or method. We're looking for essays in which people talk about “doing” history, particularly in a public setting, rather than heavily documented essays addressing narrowly academic or scholarly debates. We want to raise awareness of the activities or the resources individuals make available, how the profession is dealing with these resources/activities, and how the profession could benefit from knowing about these things. We have had archivists write about newly available sources and archives, and historians write about doing history in a public, contractual, or legal setting. We have published accounts of historic sites and reenactments;  discussions of museum exhibits, material collections, and oral history projects; accounts of historical field classes and public history training in graduate programs;  descriptions of research centers and historical consulting experiences; essays by government historians about working for state or federal agencies; and articles about art or by artists discussing their work.

WHQ editors actively reach out to individuals and organizations we think might have good stories to tell, but we also welcome your proposals and submissions. We're happy to discuss your ideas and help you develop your essay. Generally we deal with these essays as in-house publications, but will send them out for peer review as needed. We see Field Note essays as less formal (few footnotes) and more personal (use of the pronoun "I" is welcome) statements and experiences. The bottom line is to tell western historians why they should pay attention to the particular issues, opportunities, or resources described.  Field Notes are a great way for public historians to trumpet their own organizations, centers, or companies and the way they “do” history outside the conventional academy.

For samples of previously published Field Notes, consult Summer, Autumn, or Winter issues of the WHQ over the last decade.