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 past century the journal has changed. Its editorial board is no longer composed exclusively of Catholic faculty members of Catholic University, but it now includes scholars of diverse religious 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 The early apologetic tone has been replaced by a concern for publishing the best scholarship on the history of Catholicism produced by professional scholars from across the globe, with any or no religious affiliation.
How should one celebrate the first centenary of the journal? In the past, milestones were marked by publishing cumulative indexes of the earlier volumes in 1938 (volumes 1–20) and 1969 (volumes 21–50). But the journal is now digitized and available via Project MUSE and JSTOR, both of which 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—with participants Liam Matthew Brockey, Thomas Kselman, Maureen C. Miller, Nelson H. Minnich, and Joseph White—three options were proposed. Option 1 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 2 was to analyze the contributors to the journal (be they professors or nonprofessional amateurs, clerics [End Page v] or laity, men or women), the themes on which they wrote, and the significance of their articles. Option 3 was to publish a special issue on one theme (e.g., material culture, religious liberty, missions) traced across the century, with multiple authors addressing methodological issues and historiography as well as suggesting new directions. After much discussion, the board decided to merge Options 1 and 2, and to add an essay reviewing the editorial leadership of the journal, its policies, and the relationship of the journal to the American Catholic Historical Association. The ACHA was founded in 1920 in Philadelphia by Peter Guilday, one of the journal’s editors, to promote the study of the history of the Catholic Church. The association quickly adopted the journal as its official organ. At the Boston meeting in 2011, participants also decided to celebrate the anniversary by publishing an additional special issue that was not retrospective in nature but more forward looking and that would apply the new focus on material culture to the study of the Catholic Church over the centuries—Option 3. Maureen C. Miller’s offer to edit this issue was welcomed.
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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. Supplement 1 of the centennial issue is the product of the vision and hard work of Maureen C. Miller and her fellow collaborators. We trust that the readers of the journal will find their articles both fascinating and instructive, and that their analyses will lead scholars to research and write similar studies. This issue, Supplement 2, offers retrospective essays. Unfortunately, the essay on the relationship between the CHR and ACHA was not completed...