Publications Policy & Guidelines

Publications Policy

The desire to deliver reliable content and context to the public allows for a range in the types of publications the Society will produce. The centrality of the collections to the MHS mission gives a weight to those projects that reflect the holdings, in one form or another.

§  Documentary editions (print and electronic), both those designed for scholarly use and those designed for a general reader. Documentary editions have top priority since these put content and context directly into the hands of users.

§  Publications providing information about the Society’s collections, such as calendars (lists of documents) or catalogs.

§  Reference works drawn from MHS holdings or that otherwise provide valuable research tools (eg. Sibley’s) for work in the periods most strongly reflected in those holdings.

§  Historical monographs based largely on materials in the Society’s collections. 

§  Historical monographs based more loosely on materials in the Society’s collections but providing historical context for those periods most strongly reflected in those holdings.

Because the MHS “brand” depends on the quality of its holdings and its operations, the institution is committed to publishing only those materials that achieve a high standard of reliability, editorial convention, and presentation.  That standard must apply to publications aimed at general audiences as well as those designed for scholarly use.

Decisions about what the MHS will publish may also be made with an eye to anticipated annual themes, in order to contribute to the greater overall coherence of the institution’s public outreach. Similarly, ongoing periodical items remain an important publication commitment for the institution as they maintain relationships with the institution’s members and friends and communicate information about MHS collections and activities. 

Submission Guidelines

To submit an essay for the Massachusetts Historical Review, please see the guidelines at the MHR webpage.

To submit a proposal for a book, please prepare a complete proposal as outlined below and submit to the Publications Department as an attachment via e-mail. Microsoft Word documents or PDFs only; please avoid .docx files.

Synopsis: statement of proposed title, intended format (print or digital or some combination thereof), author or authors, relationship to MHS holdings and/or mission, and basic scope of work (extent and type: is it primarily a documentary edition or a presentation of original scholarship?).

Explanation of the value of the project.

Historical significance of material to be presented and value that this edition will add. Audience analysis: value to the most likely audiences for the material.

Environmental Scan: what already exists in this field and how will this project fit into that discussion (use specific examples)? How will it add to the knowledge base on the relevant topic(s)? This section should provide an explanation of the need for this information and an overview of related works currently available.

Overview of all material to be incorporated into your edition, presented in a format that reflects a book or web resource structure. Identify, in a logical order, each piece that will comprise the edition, and describe each piece in terms of its anticipated length (word count or number of entries, for example), research processes needed to create it, tone (consider audience) and depth of detail, and formatting or display if other than plain text. 

Delineation of editorial apparatus

  • should address contextual materials such as annotations, introduction and/or headnotes, system for identifying abbreviations and short titles, index

o    for a documentary edition, review of contents should include a complete list of expected editorial devices and a detailed statement of editorial method (transcription policies, collation process, annotation style).

  • and may address other explanatory apparatus such as a biographical key, timeline, glossaries, or anything else that particularly suits your material
  • list of chapters with abstracts

Also include representative samples of key pieces of editorial apparatus and, for documentary editions, an extended sample of transcription.

Status report: what work has been done and what remains to be done (1) before the manuscript will be handed off and (2) in-house by MHS staff. N.B. once a draft proposal is in-house, we will work with you to establish a schedule with deadlines.

Contributors: Short biographies of contributors, with CVs appended.

Support for this project:

  • Describe what the contributor’s or contributors’ home institution(s) are doing to support this work, including teaching releases, student/graduate student research assistance, financial awards, etc. 
  • Describe any other support that has helped the project, especially grant funding; make note of any grants that are good candidates for supporting this particular project and explain why.
  • Please provide at least two letters of support endorsing the value of the project and the credentials of the contributors attached to it.
  • Also provide the names of two or three reviewers you would recommend for this proposal.

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Transgender History and Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

18Dec 5:30PM 2018
Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute

This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

22Dec 10:00AM 2018

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, ...

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The Consecration of Samuel Seabury and the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807

8Jan 5:15PM 2019

Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office ...

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