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  • Foreword
  • Nelson H. Minnich and Trevor Lipscombe

In April 1915 the first issue of The Catholic Historical Review was published by The Catholic University of America. Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore (see figure 1) introduced the journal with a cover letter in which he noted that the editors and contributors were members of the faculty and alumni of the university where the history of the Church was studied with academic rigor. He saw the journal as a vehicle for diffusing to fellow scholars and to the public at large the results of their research, namely, the “hidden stores of knowledge which history guards,” the truths and lessons one needs to know that “afford the best intellectual enjoyment.” Over the century the journal has changed. Its editorial board is no longer composed exclusively of Catholic faculty members of Catholic University, but now includes scholars of diverse religious traditions, and both national and international backgrounds. The early apologetic tone has been replaced by a concern for publishing the best scholarship on the history of Catholicism produced by professional scholars from across the globe regardless of religious affiliation.

How should one celebrate the first centenary of the journal? In the past milestones were marked by publishing a cumulative index of the earlier volumes, in 1938 (vols. 1–20) and 1969 (vols. 21–50). But the journal is now digitized and available on Project MUSE and JStor that have search functions, and thus the time-consuming and expensive task of compiling a new index is no longer needed. On its fortieth anniversary Carl Wittke published in the journal a retrospective essay,1 but to update the survey would be an enormous task for a single scholar. At the editorial board meeting in Boston on January 8, 2011, in which Liam Matthew Brockey, Thomas Kselman, Maureen C. Miller, Joseph White, and the editor participated, three options were proposed. Option I was to commission articles from leading scholars who would study how the articles and book reviews published in the journal reflected or contributed to the evolving historiography of the Catholic Church. Option II was to examine the demographics of journal contributors (e.g., were they professors or nonprofessional amateurs, clerics or laity, men or women), the themes that they discussed, and the significance [End Page iii] of their articles. Option III was to publish a special issue on one theme (e.g., material culture, religious liberty, missions) traced across the century, with multiple authors; this would address methodological issues, cover historiography, and suggest new directions. After much discussion, it was decided to pursue both Options I and II in the essays that would appear in one issue, and to add to that issue an essay that reviews the editorial leadership of the journal, the policies of the journal, and the relationship of the journal to the American Catholic Historical Association, which was founded by a journal editor, Peter Guilday (see figure 2), in Philadelphia five years after the journal’s first appearance. With this organization, Guilday wished to promote the study of the history of the Catholic Church, and the association quickly adopted the journal as its official organ. At the Boston meeting, it was also decided to celebrate the anniversary by publishing an additional special issue (Option III) that was not retrospective in nature, but would look to the future and would apply the new focus on material culture to the study of the Catholic Church over the centuries. Maureen C. Miller’s offer to edit this issue was welcomed.

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Figure 1.

Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, c. 1920.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction no. LC-USZ62-105240.

[End Page iv]

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Figure 2.

Inscribed photograph of Peter Guilday to Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, his successor as editor of The Catholic Historical Review.

Based on the discussions in Boston and after four years of fine-tuning, commissioning, reviewing, and revising the contributions, the centennial issues will be published on the occasion of the journal’s centenary. Centennial issue 1 is the product of Maureen C. Miller’s vision and hard work and that of her fellow collaborators. We...


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