The Long Island Historical Journal died October 28, 2008, when Associate Editor Ann Becker informed the LIHJ Editorial Board in an e-mail that the twenty-year old journal “has ceased publication” with Volume 20 snail-mailed out three months earlier. Yet the fact that you are reading this note on a screen that shows Volume 21, Issue 1, Fall 2009, is proof that the LIHJ lives and is ready for the brave new world of the Internet.
Websites like newspaperdeathwatch.com indicate that traditional paper-based publications – books, journals, and newspapers – encounter challenges in the global information age that go beyond greed, bad management, inflexibility, lack of contemporary skills and support, or other such factors. Our attempt to give the LIHJ another twenty-year perspective rests on the assumption that the twenty-first century will be kinder to electronic publishing than to the costly and limited reach of previous ways of distributing research and knowledge.
With this issue, the LIHJ returns to its semiannual publication sequence that ended with Volume 13 and the passing of Roger Wunderlich, LIHJ’s Founding Editor, in 2001. After Wunderlich, Volumes 14-20 came out once a year as double issues. However, more important than the return to the original LIHJ format of late Fall and Spring issues is the renewed focus on “Long Island as America.” The thought that Long Island is America was more than a tantalizing line in the first LIHJ logo – it inspired Wunderlich’s creation. The first LIHJ article, which appeared in two parts, considered Long Island as America “From Colonial Times through the 19th Century” and “The Twentieth Century.”
Putting Long Island history in a wider historical context was new and uncommon when Wunderlich’s journal was conceived in the late 1980s. Two decades later, it has become clear that translocal local history was a perceptive idea that corresponded to the same epochal changes that triggered the consideration of transnational global history on the other end of the local-to-global spectrum. I remember this well, because I became involved with one of the new global history approaches in the early 1990s and could see how Roger and I appeared to our more traditionally focused colleagues, namely as eccentrics of “the local” and “the global.”
Now, the recognition of the intertwinement of global and local phenomena is spreading and a flourishing academic industry of global/local studies has emerged in economics, political science, sociology, history, and other fields. To perceive the translocal concept of local history as a mere slogan would signal ignorance today. Yet the local/global approach was difficult to sell initially – now it is rejuvenating all sorts of history. Thus, the combined upheavals of globalization and the Internet have dealt the Long Island History Journal a new lease on life and a second chance to bring local history into the global age.