The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review has been a long time in coming. Our department has a rich history of believing in the efficacy of undergraduate research. For many years, my colleagues in the Department of History have gone to great lengths to promote the practice of history by our undergraduates. This broad consensus on the value of research and writing, however, lacked a proper outlet. We knew that our students produced great work, but they needed a forum for publishing it. This journal, then, is the culmination of the work of a number of people over the course of several years, and I would be remiss if I failed to thank them. Kathleen Jones and Peter Wallenstein have been collecting their students’ research for years, and their efforts shaped my approach to undergraduate research. In 2009, Mark Barrow and I collaborated on how to reformulate our own senior seminar courses; this partnership proved to be invigorating and created the momentum that eventually led to this journal.
Building on an effervescence of undergraduate research activity, I began working on the concept for this journal with David Blaha, the founding Managing Editor of the VTUHR. David worked tirelessly and with great enthusiasm on the journal, and this first edition exists in no small part due to his efforts. Stephen O’Hara signed on to the journal upon David’s graduation, and he has done an exemplary job of guiding the process from submission to publication. Heather Lennon joined the team more recently and has become an irreplaceable asset. I could not ask for better leadership than these two young scholars. When we began the process of soliciting submissions, we held it as axiomatic that this was a journal that should not only highlight undergraduate scholarship, but that undergraduates should run it as well. The six undergraduates who volunteered to act as the founding Associate Editors – Victoria Heath, Alison Hight, Brian Marshall, Rebecca Middour, Gabi Seltzer, and Waheed Sheriff – have done an outstanding job; they have taken their work seriously and made thoughtful and judicious decisions throughout the process. I am deeply indebted to them.
I also want to thank my colleagues who shepherded the research projects to fruition in their courses. Several of my colleagues also agreed to review articles for the journal, and I thank them for their commitment to undergraduate research. Phi Alpha Theta also played an outsized role in promoting the journal as well as gathering enthusiasm and submissions; these efforts are greatly appreciated. The Virginia Tech Diggs Teaching Scholars Community and the Department of History funded the development of the VTUHR and offered enthusiastic support.
Finally, my thanks goes to all those students who toil away on undergraduate research, to those who submitted their work for public scrutiny, and to those four who were selected for this first volume. Your work inspires me.
Robert P. Stephens
February 2, 2012