Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943

Uncommon Sense

The following is from the Uncommon Sense archives. It first appeared in the Fall 2003 issue, no. 117.

From the Director’s Desk

Director's Desk

I began this column as Williamsburg was slowly digging itself out from under the piles of debris left by Hurricane Isabel. The Institute, I am relieved to report, weathered that storm with only minor inconveniences —damp carpets in the basement, no power for four days, and no telephones or Internet access for more than a week. Unlike the College of William and Mary, which remained closed for ten days, we escaped trees falling on roofs and roadways, and except for the telephones, we were pretty much up and running by Monday, September 22. The storm did, however, take its toll on the pace of work here, delaying the production of the October Quarterly, the 2004 Associates letters, and the Fall 2003 issue of this newsletter.

Change has been in the air at the Institute since the last issue of Uncommon Sense. Bob Gross, who has so ably and imaginatively served as Book Review Editor of the William and Mary Quarterly since 1999, has resigned to accept the James A. and Shirley L. Draper Chair in Early American History at the University of Connecticut. In a sense, Bob’s departure is a double whammy, for besides depriving the Institute of his contributions to the journal and to the intellectual liveliness and creative spirit of this place, his leaving also takes away from us the considerable editorial talents and experience of Ann Gross, who has, for the past thirteen years, skillfully executed the critical responsibilities that comprise the post of Managing Editor of the Quarterly. Losing two such productive and valued members of the Institute staff at once is no small occurrence, and as we sent Ann and Bob off with our warmest good wishes, we were at the same time well aware that finding comparable successors would be a considerable challenge.

Thus I am especially pleased to announce that Karin Wulf, who is currently serving as Visiting Book Review Editor, has accepted a permanent appointment as Book Review Editor of the William and Mary Quarterly, beginning in July 2004. Karin began her stint as Bob’s temporary replacement in the summer of 2002, and quickly displayed both an affinity for the job and an ability to do it well. She will remain a tenured member of the history faculty at American University and continue her schedule of commuting to Williamsburg to participate in the activities of the Institute. Karin has already made important contributions to our intellectual endeavors during the fifteen months she has been with us, and we are delighted that she will be staying on as a member of the senior editorial staff.

I take similar pleasure in informing the Institute’s constituents that Virginia Montijo has accepted the position of Managing Editor of the William and Mary Quarterly. Ginny’s association with the Institute began the year I became director, when she was one of the Institute apprenti. She subsequently left us for several years to serve as assistant managing editor of Orbis, a quarterly journal of world affairs, but returned to the Institute in 1995, as Senior Editor of Book Publications. Quarterly authors whose articles were moving through the editing process between August 1998 and August 1999 will remember working with Ginny, who served as the journal’s Visiting Managing Editor while Ann Gross was on leave. Ginny’s editorial skills contributed significantly to the esteem in which Institute books are held, and we eagerly anticipate the rewards her talents will continue to bring us in her post as Managing Editor of the Quarterly.

During the summer we bid farewell to two Institute/NEH fellows—Ben Mutschler returned to his teaching position at Oregon State University, Corvallis, and Paul Mapp moved across the William and Mary campus to the College’s Department of History. In their stead we welcomed Wendy Bellion and Brett Rushforth, who, along with Mellon fellow Niki Eustace, compose our current group of lively young scholars.

Our colleagues who planned and participated in the Institute’s Ninth Annual Conference in New Orleans in June deserve our thanks for an interesting program and memorable venues. Plans are proceeding apace for the Tenth Annual gathering, scheduled for June 11–13, 2004, at Smith College and Historic Deerfield, and for the Institute’s next major thematic conference, “The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550–1624,“ which takes place March 4–7, 2004, here in Williamsburg. The latter meeting constitutes the Institute and the College of William and Mary’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown and is being held this year so that a volume of essays drawn from the proceedings can be in print by 2007.

The Fall issue of Uncommon Sense always carries the names of those who elected to become Associates during the past year. During fiscal 2003, a record 1,101 persons—slightly more than half the subscribers to the William and Mary Quarterly—contributed to the Institute. Given the financial realities that currently beset institutions and individuals across the board, this response seems to me to be a remarkable demonstration of loyalty and generosity—a truly gratifying, deeply encouraging commitment to the value of the work we do together and the high standards we strive collectively to uphold. All of us here are deeply grateful for the gifts of intellect, time, and money that the Associates so consistently bestow upon the Institute.

Ron Hoffman