Call for Papers

MHR NS 2: Disaster in American History

Since its first volume in 1999, the Massachusetts Historical Review (MHR) has published original analytical essays, photo-essays, historical documents, and reviews for a general audience. Beginning with a new series in 2021, each issue of the MHR will focus on a specific theme connected with Massachusetts history, although the essays in the volume need not be limited to Massachusetts or New England topics.

The publication of the second volume of the new series will coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Around 7:00 p.m. on the evening of November 9, a fire erupted in the basement of a six-story building in the city’s commercial district and raced up to the rafters. Firemen rushed to the scene as the blaze spread quickly across the district’s crowded wooden Mansard roofs. They were hampered in their valiant efforts to hold off the inferno, however. Unable to use the department’s horses, which were all recovering from a recent flu epidemic, the firemen had to push their steam-powered fire engines to the scene themselves. With poor water pressure, they could not reach the towering flames. By the time the fire quieted the following day, over 60 acres of the city lay in ruins, 1,000 residents found themselves homeless, 20,000 found themselves unemployed, and 30 lay dead.

Using the 1872 fire as a starting point, volume 2 of the MHR’s new series will focus on the theme of disaster in American history. The MHR invites interested authors to submit proposals for original essays concerning disaster, broadly conceived, in any era of American history and speaking to a general audience. Preference will be given to essays that connect in some manner to Massachusetts and New England. The journal welcomes submissions from authors pursuing research in history or related fields (such as American Studies or American Literature) at all career stages, including graduate students, tenured faculty members, and independent scholars.

Interested parties should submit a current curriculum vitae along with a one-page (double-spaced) proposal that outlines the subject the author seeks to pursue and its connection to the theme, the sources employed, and the intervention in relevant historical scholarship to by July 15, 2020. By August 15, 2020, authors with successful proposals will receive an invitation to submit a completed draft of their essay for consideration.

First drafts of essays selected will be due by December 15, 2020 and must be 7,500–10,000 words. All drafts will undergo a rigorous peer-review process by both MHS staff and outside readers prior to publication.

Questions? Please write to

Upcoming Events

Author Talk; Online Event

Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading

11Jun 5:30PM 2020
This is an online program

REGISTER HERE The publishing phenomenon of summer reading started in the nineteenth century, as both print culture and tourist culture expanded in the United States. ...

Conversation; Online Event

The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West

17Jun 5:30PM 2020
This is an online program.

REGISTER HERE Megan Kate Nelson reveals the fascinating history of the Civil War in the American West.Exploring the connections among the Civil War, the Indian wars, and ...

Online Event; Author Talk

1774: The Long Year of Revolution

24Jun 5:30PM 2020
This is an online program.

REGISTER HERE Mary Beth Norton will give us a preview of her new book, a narrative history of the “long       year” of 1774, or the ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?