February 19, 2020

From Process: A Blog for American History

In honor of Black History Month, we at the Journal of American History are pleased to re-release the JAH African American History Index. First published last year, the index includes every article of African American history we have ever printed, from our inception as the Mississippi Valley Historical Review more than one hundred years ago, through our most recent issue, published in December 2019.

Consisting of 224 entries, the index was created collaboratively by the JAH staff. In spare moments between fact-checking and proofreading our regular content, our editors, graduate student editorial assistants, and undergraduate intern pored over back issues. We limited our search to articles, an imprecise category that expanded to include roundtables, special forums, and presidential addresses from the annual meetings of the Organization of American Historians. For the sake of manageability, we purposefully excluded thousands of book, film, and exhibition reviews. Finally, in deliberating the parameters of African American history, we determined to index only those articles primarily concerned with black people; we left out many important essays on closely related topics, such as whiteness studies. Notwithstanding these guidelines, each staff member ultimately had to make tough decisions about what material to add to the index and what material to leave off. For these reasons, we consider the index a work in progress. We apologize for any inadvertent omissions, and we welcome recommendations for addition.

We have also invited Peniel E. Joseph, Professor of History, Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin, to compile a handful of these indexed articles, and to write a guest introduction, for publication as a special online issue. Entitled Black Power, American Democracy, and Dreams of Citizenship, the online issue will be freely available through April 2020.

Image: Noni Olabisi, “To Protect and Serve” (1997), side wall of Rick’s Barbershop, 3406 Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, 2011. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. LC-DIG-vrg- 08775. Reproduced by permission of the photographer, Camilo J. Vergara, in honor of his friend and co-author, Kenneth T. Jackson. For more information about Vergara’s photography, see African American Communities in America’s Cities: Photographs by Camilo J. Vergara.