How to Contribute

Query First, Please

Common-place encourages contributions from scholars, educators, curators, archivists, and librarians at all stages of their careers—from graduate students to professors emeriti. Before undertaking to research and write an unsolicited piece for Common-place, however, we request that you query the editor, James Moran.

Please send us a brief c.v. and a proposal of no more than one page. Ideally, your proposal should include a sample of the text itself, so that we can get a sense of your tone and style. Please send these materials as attached Microsoft Word for Windows text files.

Common-place is not a traditional scholarly journal. It differs in content: we range across interests and disciplines, from art history to archaeology, from politics to parlor manners. It differs in tone: we aim to reach a broad audience of the educated public as well as specialists in the field. Please bear these differences in mind as you craft a query to Common-place. We also strongly encourage you to consult our style sheet even at the query stage.

If, upon acceptance of your query, we solicit a feature or column from you, please send the manuscript as a Microsoft Word e-mail attachment. Authors are responsible for securing photographic and other reproductions and acquiring permission to publish them on the web. Questions concerning format and graphics should be directed to the editor. Additional information about submissions can be found on the style sheet.

Author Agreement

All authors are required to complete and sign a Common-place Authors License Agreement.

Review and Editorial Procedure

Just as Common-place differs in tone and content from scholarly journals, it differs in procedure. In many ways, Common-place’s review and editorial processes are much more like those of a magazine. You can expect real, developmental editing as well as careful copy editing of your submission. Column manuscripts will be edited both by the column editor and by the journal editors. This process is very much a dialogue, in which you have the opportunity, at every stage, to respond to suggestions and changes. Once accepted by the editors, your column or feature will be sent to our in-house copy editor, where it will be edited for conformity to house style only. You will be able to review the copy edited manuscript when it is loaded at the site, before it is available to the public. Questions about this procedure can be directed to the editor.


Common-place’s features are lively essays designed to engage a broad audience of people interested in early American life. Features will often be based on original, primary source research (“Bad Seed: New Evidence of Rotten Grain in Salem”), but they will just as often reflect on the state of a field (“Why is There No Early American Urban Studies?”) or discuss a methodological problem (“No Room of One’s Own: Studying Privacy Among the Lower Sort—Whose Houses Don’t Survive”). In any event, remember to write for readers interested in, and familiar with, the basic currents of early American life, but not necessarily with your own specialty, or even your own discipline.

Features can vary in length from 2,000 to 5,000 words. As detailed in our style sheet, we do not publish footnotes or endnotes but will publish short bibliographic essays or suggestions for further reading.

Solicitation of a feature submission based on a query does not guarantee acceptance for publication. Please see the review and editorial procedure section above. If your submission receives a recommendation, it is accepted for publication and you will be contacted about copy editing and copyright.


Column submissions should be approximately 1,000 words (some reviews will be longer), and should be sent to the administrative editor who will send them to be reviewed by the appropriate column editor, who will make a recommendation to the editors. If your submission is accepted for publication, you will be contacted about copy editing and copyright.


Common-place’s reviews aim to go beyond assessments of historical monographs to consider a wider range of styles and genres of thinking about the early American past. In addition to reviewing scholarly books, our reviewers are also welcome to explore recent works of history, fiction, film, television, or electronic media. If you wish to contribute a review, please contact the administrative editor, who will forward your correspondence to reviews editors Joshua R. Greenberg and Justine Murison.

Ask the Author

Ask the Author is a “mini-interview” in which prominent authors of recent works of history, fiction, or journalism answer a question from Common-place about their work. Thus we might ask Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic, to speculate about why there are no Mexican-American War re-enactors. If you have suggestions for authors and/or questions, please e-mail our administrative editor, who will forward your correspondence to column editor Joseph Adelman.

The Common School

The Common School is a forum for a schoolteacher or professor to talk about how to teach early American history. Teacher-authors might relate a particularly inspiring or troubling classroom experience (e.g., “What Happens When High Schoolers Role-Play Slavery?”), or describe an especially useful writing or reading assignment from their courses. Teachers with queries regarding Common School submissions should contact our administrative editor, who will forward your correspondence to column editor Darcy R. Fryer.

Poetic Research

Poetic Research features the work of a poet whose creative process involves in-depth research in American history. Along with their poems, authors present their creative research process in a Statement of Poetic Research. Statements might describe a specific archival exploration, or take a lyrical approach to communicating the nuances of integrating source material with artistic method. Queries regarding Poetic Research submissions should include three to seven poems and a brief description of the poet’s research process; our administrative editor will forward your correspondence to the column editor, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.

Object Lessons

Object Lessons allows curators and scholars of material culture to introduce a new exhibit of images, objects, or artifacts, or ponder a curatorial issue, such as the archaeological problems and possibilities unearthed by Boston’s “Big Dig.” Those with queries about Object Lessons topics should contact our administrative editor who will forward your correspondence to column editors Ellery Foutch and Sarah Carter.

Tales from the Vault

Tales from the Vault brings the perspective of an archivist librarian or researcher to each issue of Common-place. An author might describe a repository’s recent acquisition, introduce an important new electronic resource or published reference, or analyze an archival problem such as “What’s Left in Our Nation’s Attics.” Columns might also track a researcher’s hunt through the archives and his or her “unexpected finds.” Queries regarding Tales from the Vault should go to our administrative editor who will forward your correspondence to column editor Wendy Woloson.

Just Teach One

Just Teach One provides publicly available scholarly transcriptions of early American texts, with basic editing and apparatus, for use in teaching. It also provides a forum for those teachers to provide reflections on the text, insights and reactions, and intertextual possibilities in ways that could provide guidance for other teachers. If you’re interested in teaching any of the included texts, please contact Duncan Faherty (Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center) and Ed White (Tulane University).

Web Library

The Common-place Web Library reviews and lists online resources and Websites likely to be of interest to our viewers. Each quarterly issue will feature one or more brief site reviews. The library itself will be an ongoing enterprise with regular new additions and amendments. So we encourage you to check it frequently. At the moment, the library is small, but with your help we expect it to grow rapidly. If you have suggestions for the Web Library, or for site reviews, please forward them to the editor.