Academic journal article The Historian

Interview with Roger Adelson

Academic journal article The Historian

Interview with Roger Adelson

Article excerpt

Born in 1942 and reared in Kansas, Adelson received his B.A. degree from George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; his B. Litt. degree from Oxford University, Oxford, England; and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, where he was a Danforth Fellow. He held a pos-doctoral research fellowship at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and taught briefly at Harvard before joining the history faculty at Arizona State University in 1974. Adelson's publications include Mark Sykes: Portrait of an Amateur and London and the Invention of the Middle East Money, Power, and War, 1902-1922. While editing The Historian from 1900 to 1995, Adelson has interviewed numerous historians; many will be republished this fall in Speaking of History. As a consulting editor for The Historian, Adelson will continue doing interviews. This one was conducted by Peter Iverson, associate editor, and edited by Joy Margheim, editorial assistant, in December, 1995.

THE HISTORIAN: after six years of your editorship, The Historian now has more subscribers than any other scholarly history journal in the United States. How do you feel as you step down?

ADELSON: I feel a sense of personal achievement but I would be less than candid if I did not also say I feel a tremendous relief not to have to meet deadlines for the first time in six years. The journal has grown not only in circulation but in quality. The doubling of our circulation during the past six years means that our 21,000 subscribers now exceed the 19,000 subscribers to The American Historical Review and the 13,000 who take The Journal of American History. Our readership has responded positively to changes we have introduced since 1990: redesigning the journal, introducing interviews with prominent historians and photo essays, presenting some current historical debates, and increasing the number of books reviewed. The success of The Historian is notable in that most of the four hundred scholarly history journals currently published in the United States are produced by specialists for specialists, but our journal reaches a more general audience. The journal has also globalized its coverage after The Historian's first fifty years, when 75 percent of the articles published and books reviewed focused on either U.S. or British history. Several colleagues and students have worked very hard with me to transform the journal and to maintain its high editorial standards. In 1996, although I shall enjoy having more time to devote to teaching and writing history, I shall miss working so closely with the editorial team that for me has become like a family.

THE HISTORIAN: Before asking you more about the journal, let us follow the format of your interviews for The Historian. Could you please tell us about your family background?

ADELSON: My paternal great-grandfather was a Swedish immigrant of the 1860s who brought his family to south central Nebraska, where he home-steaded land by planting trees near the Platte River. Like my grandfather, my father was involved with banking and raising livestock as well as farming. He attended the University of Nebraska before moving to Kansas in 1942, where he was a banker - a career he discouraged me from entering. Remaining close to his family and Nebraska roots, my father respected Sweden's socialism as a middle way between capitalism and communism. He taught me that "the strong must help the weak."

My mother's youth was much less settled than that of my father. Her father being a casualty of World War I and her mother's remarriage ending in divorce, my mother grew up with relatives. She told me that when she was young, "books were my best friends." My mother graduated from Morning-side College in Sioux City, Iowa, attended the University of Nebraska, and taught school before she married my father. When I was ten, my mother returned to college and teaching. A dedicated teacher on the elementary, junior, and senior high levels who worked with students of varied abilities and backgrounds, she inspired me. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.