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Uncommon Sense

By Holly White · September 05, 2018

OI History: The Past and Present of the OI’s Apprenticeship in Historical Editing

apprentices 5 min read

by Holly White

As part of our seventy-fifth anniversary, we at the Omohundro Institute continue to reflect on what makes our institution such a special place. One of those things is our Apprenticeship in Historical Editing. I was an apprentice from 2010–2011 and received my training from the managing editor of the William and Mary Quarterly, Erin Bendiner, and the managing editor of OI Books, the late, great Gil Kelly. My training was a full three weeks and included a trip to the Colonial Williamsburg Print Shop and Bindery to see how early Americans published pamphlets and books. I still have the reprint of an eighteenth-century Virginia Gazette that I pressed myself. (Okay: that I pressed with the help of the printer.)

I now have come full circle—after I finished my doctorate in early American history at William & Mary in 2017, I joined the OI staff as an assistant editor of OI publications and digital initiatives and assistant producer of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast about Early American History. Although my time as an apprentice was more than eight years ago, that experience and the work I did for the Quarterly continues to shape the way that I approach my own scholarship and writing—particularly, of course, my footnotes.

As a former apprentice, I was curious to find out when the program began and how it has changed over the years. I was also eager to see where some of our other apprentices have ended up. This is the first in a series of eight blog posts on the past and present of the OI’s Apprenticeship in Historical Editing that will include guest posts from former Apprenti Anna Roberts, Kevin Butterfield, Martha King, Sherry Babbitt, and Sean Harvey.

Part 1: The Program Today

Last month, we welcomed our fifty-ninth class of editorial apprentices. Apprentices received their training from the managing editor of the WMQ, Margaret T. Musselwhite, and the managing editor of OI Books, Virginia Montijo Chew. The work the apprentices do is crucial to OI books and the WMQ. Like those before them, Kathleen Boyce, Julia Peyton Brown, S. Adiel Harris, Nathaniel Holly, Kathleen Telling, Derek Vouri-Richard, and Emily Rachel Marie Zwier were introduced to the philosophy and practices of scholarly editing and historical documentation through exercises and discussions focusing on source checking,* proofreading, and copy editing. The training also included sessions with other staff from the OI and Swem Library to introduce the apprentices to the work of the OI in general and to the resources they’ll need during the year. Apprentices work about ten hours a week for the OI and alternate between projects for the Quarterly and OI Books.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2: “OI History: The History of the Apprenticeship Program.”

*The OI checks all citations and quotations in our publications. This is a painstaking process that requires our apprentices to track down every source (within reason) that an author cites and verify that it is accurate.


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