The Death of a Midwestern History Journal

Jon Lauck's picture

Have you ever wondered what happened to the history journal Mid-America which was published in Chicago for many decades?  It published the work of many historians in and of the Midwest.  The full story of the journal's rise and fall is now told by long-time Loyola University historian Theodore Karamanski in the latest article from Studies in Midwestern History.  The article is here: "A Catholic History of the Heartland: The Rise and Fall of Mid-America: A Historical Review."

John's post calls to mind a December 2015 article from Studies of Midwest History about another journal that has passed on. In this article, titled "The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Studies Journal: The Old Northwest, 1975-1992" David M. Fahey charts the hopes at the beginning of the The Old Northwest and the reasons why this multi-disciplinary journal with a regional focus could not continue to publish.

Two of these obits for journals in close succession has me wondering:

  • Are there more of these midwest-focussed journals that have fallen by the wayside? It's good for us to remember a focus on the midwest is not entirely new, but does the existence of these journals suggest a past heyday for midwestern studies?
  • Do they live on in archives and/or electronic databases so we can still access the research?
  • Between the The Old Northwest article and the Mid-America article, Studies in Midwestern History published an article in a similar vein: "A History of the Mid-America Conference on History" by the conference's founder James N. Giglio. Is Studies deliberately sketching out a past for their field? I don't know, but I've been appreciating their attention in such a history to what I think of as the infra-structure of the field, the publishing opportunities, the conferences, and hopefully we will hear as well about departments and centers (such as they are). The four more recent articles in Studies--including these three and William E. Lass's "Historical Sketch of the Northern Great Plans History Conference, 1996-2015" all seem to point this way. There's an intellectual history of midwestern studies to be told as well, but it's valuable to remember movers-and-shakers who did and still do valuable organizing "infra-structure" work to support the intellectual work and make its dissemination possible. 

The Michigan Historical Review, which is edited/published by Central Michigan University with the Historical Society of Michigan distributing about 80+% of the print run to our members, has published articles that have gone beyond Michigan to encompass the Great Lakes region. In some ways it carries on some of the focus of The Old Northwest journal.

Larry Wagenaar
Historical Society of Michigan