The Catholic University of America

April 21, 2015

Catholic Historical Review Celebrates 100 Years

  The Catholic Historical Review staff: Elizabeth Foxwell, Monsignor Robert Trisco, Nelson H. Minnich, Jennifer Paxton, and Trevor Lipscombe, director of The Catholic University of America Press.

In honor of its 100th anniversary, The Catholic Historical Review (CHR), the journal founded at The Catholic University of America in April 1915, has published two special centennial issues.

One of the two recently published issues with gold-toned covers is a centennial retrospective that features essays from leading scholars on how the journal reflected or contributed to the evolving historiography of the Catholic Church.

The other special issue looks to the future by applying a new focus on material culture — a current theme in scholarship on religious history — to the study of the Church over the centuries. The issue is guest edited by Maureen C. Miller, a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.

The topics for the centennial issues were chosen in 2011 by the editorial board, says Nelson H. Minnich, editor of the journal, who holds a dual appointment as professor of Church history in the School of Theology and Religious Studies and of history in the Department of History and is the only representative from the United States on the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences.

He says the last four years have been marked by commissioning, fine-tuning, reviewing and revising the contributions in order to publish two special issues “worthy of our rich history and important place in the scholarly study of the Catholic Church.”

Volume 100 of CHR was published last year. “Seeing that number 100 on the cover certainly gave us pause for reflection and gratitude,” says Minnich.

CHR is the official journal of the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA). It is the only scholarly journal under Catholic auspices in the English-speaking world devoted to the history of the universal Church. The journal is produced and owned by Catholic University and published by The Catholic University of America Press. Its editorial board includes scholars of diverse religious traditions, and both national and international backgrounds.

CHR publishes peer-reviewed articles, along with up to 300 book reviews in its four issues per year. Minnich became editor in 2005 after serving as an associate and advisory editor for 25 years. “I am only the fifth managing editor in our 100 years,” says Minnich.

The founding editor Monsignor Peter Guilday served from 1915 to 1941. Monsignor John Tracy Ellis took over and served from 1941 to 1962. Both editors were longtime professors of Church history at CUA and are remembered as leading Church history scholars of their time.

Monsignor Robert Trisco, professor emeritus of Church history, served as editor from 1963 until 2005, and continues to serve as associate editor for book reviews. Minnich says he led the journal to “international status with a reputation as one of the best scholarly peer-reviewed historical journals around.” CHR ranks in the top 20 % of scholarly journals in its category rated by the European Science Foundation.

Books and reviewers come from around the globe. Books are not reviewed by graduate students as is often the case in scholarly publishing, but rather by leading scholars in their fields, says Monsignor Trisco.

During Minnich’s tenure, CHR has added a new series, “Journeys in Church History,” which are personal reflections on their lives and careers by well-respected scholars of Church history. He also added forums in which a number of scholars comment on important and controversial texts, providing the author an opportunity to respond.

Jennifer Paxton, clinical assistant professor in the Department of History, also serves as a CHR associate editor. The journal’s only regular part-time staff member is Elizabeth Foxwell, staff editor.

“The archival evidence that scholars uncover and the interesting stories they bring to light are fascinating. One of my personal favorites appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of the journal,” says Foxwell.

The article “Archbishop Francis J. Spellman’s Visit to Wartime Rome” by Rev. Gerald Fogarty, S.J., of the University of Virginia chronicles travels by the archbishop during World War II. He met with Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to his departure, had audiences with Pope Pius XII, and later dined with Winston Churchill and many others. “Father Fogarty went into the diplomatic archives to come up with a true story that is utterly fascinating,” says Foxwell.

“There are stories like these from every period of the Church’s history that make the Catholic Historical Review a treasure for scholars of religious history,” says Minnich.




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