The first year of the MESDA Journal as an online publication has been a success on every level. Readership has quadrupled when compared to the journal’s largest annual circulation as a printed publication. Distribution grew internationally from two countries to over sixteen. Domestically, we’ve expanded readership to every state in the country. Potential articles are being submitted for consideration in previously unheard of numbers. All of this amazing growth occurred while costs to produce the journal have been dramatically reduced. Many of you have generously supported the journal through your donations. Thank you for your enthusiastic embrace of the online platform and for spreading the word about the reinvigorated MESDA Journal. This next issue is shaping up to build on all the accomplishments of the first year.
Many of you have heard me comment that I am very interested in identifying new approaches to digital research and would like to publish articles in the MESDA Journal with enriched content. With that in mind, I am delighted to present an article by Brad Rauschenberg, the first of 2013, which clearly illustrates the possibilities of digital tools when applied to early southern material culture. Brad’s article, “Documentary Evidence for Furniture Forms and Terminology in Charleston, South Carolina, 1670-1820,” is not a traditional journal article. Instead, it is a powerful research tool for those investigating furniture in early America. The product of over three decades of work, this resource employs hyperlinks to quickly navigate a vast amount of documentary information that would be difficult—if not impossible—to publish in a printed format. Using hyperlinks may not be a giant leap forward into a new era of digital scholarship, but I believe it is a significant step for the journal. Making information such as Brad’s work available to scholars when it might not be otherwise easily accessed or used is a worthy endeavor.
At its core, however, the MESDA Journal is about the content, not how we deliver it to you. The articles for this year’s issue are among the strongest we’ve published. Tracey Parks uncovers the career and work of Tennessee’s first cabinetmaker; Nick Powers expands our understanding of one of the South’s most important and enigmatic artists, Frederick Kemmelmeyer; and Henry Taliaferro’s recent research on the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia presents a story of intrigue and conspiracy behind the map’s creation. This year’s issue of the journal will also include an article by Ron Hurst that looks over the past and toward the future of southern furniture scholarship.
Welcome back to the MESDA Journal. Please be sure to join our mailing list to receive notice when new articles are posted, or simply check in with us once in a while to see what’s new about the early South.
With best regards,