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Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) records


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) was established in 1977 because its founding members felt that there was a need for a group dedicated to the history of the United States from 1789 to 1850, a period neglected by most other organizations and journals. The mission of the organization is to promote the study and research of the culture, politics, government, and society of the formative years of the United States.

To accomplish this mission, SHEAR holds an annual conference each summer to discuss new historical theories, share recent papers and articles, explore new ideas for the organization and its journal, and bring together historians with similar interests. The organization further disseminates information through its journal, The Journal of the Early Republic.

The Journal of the Early Republic began publication in 1981 as an outlet for the scholarly research of the early history of the United States. SHEAR had established itself as an organization and could now devote and further promote itself through a scholarly journal. In addition to serving as a promotional tool for the organization, the journal, published quarterly, filled a neglected gap in the publishing realm dealing with American history from the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries.

The organization has grown from its founding membership of approximately 500 individuals to more than 1,000 in 1995, the extent of the organization's history documented within this collection. Its leadership consists of a president and an advisory board elected by the membership.

This collection includes administrative and conference files which document, to a limited degree, the operations, communications, and annual conferences of SHEAR, as well as the publication of its The Journal of the Early Republic. In addition, this collections documents the operation of the Conference of Historical Journals, an organization closely associated with SHEAR with the mission to promote the publication of history in periodical form. The collection is arranged in two series: Series I. Administrative files and Series II. Conference files.

Series I. Administrative files contains the constitution and bylaws of the organization as well as correspondence from the members of the Advisory Council and the Editorial Office along with the membership lists and project proposals. The correspondence is largely from the editor of the journal, Ralphe E. Gray, and the bulk deals with the publication of the journal. However there is also a bit of correspondence among the members which discussed the future and direction the organization should undertake.

Among the administrative files is material relating to the Conference on Historical Journals, an organization open to any organization which considers itself historical in orientation. Members of SHEAR were heavily involved in that organization, its discussions, and information sharing on ways to efficiently produce a scholarly journal. Researchers will find this organization's constitution and by-laws, minutes, correspondence, and an incomplete run of its newsletter, Editing History.

Series II. Conference files contains programs of sessions, board and committee reports, articles, a few papers, and some related correspondence. Occasionally, minutes of the Advisory Board meetings are founds amongst the reports by the secretary/treasurer and the editor of The Journal of the Early Republic. These reports discuss the issues and solutions employed by SHEAR to maintain and further enhance its organization and are an ideal place for researchers to track and understand the development of the organization.

Gift of Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2019.

This collection was previously processed and housed at the Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives. The bulk of the arrangement and description was unchanged during processing for the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2019 October 31
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Constitution and by-laws, undated.
Box 1 Folder 1
Agreement with Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) relating to the publishing and distribution of the Journal of the Early Republic, 1980 April-July.
Box 1 Folder 2
Member lists, 1978, 1983-1984.
Box 1 Folder 3
Correspondence, 1978-1994, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4-11
"Prospectus: New Perspectives on the Early Republic: Essays from the Journal of the Early Republic, 1981-1991," edited by Ralph D. Gray and Michael A. Morrison, article and related correspondence and notes, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 12
Conference of Historical Journals, constitution and by-laws, 1984, 1990.
Box 1 Folder 13
Conference of Historical Journals, minutes, 1983-1992.
Box 1 Folder 14
Conference of Historical Journals, correspondence, 1982-1994.
Box 1 Folder 15
Conference of Historical Journals, Editing History, newsletters, 1988-1994.
Box 1 Folder 16

Illinois, University of Illinois in Urbana, program of sessions, 1980 July 18-19.
Box 1 Folder 17
New York, Siena College in Ludonville, program of sessions, 1981 July 24-25.
Box 1 Folder 18
Tennessee, Memphis State University in Memphis, program of sessions, editor's report, and book review status summary, 1982 July 23-24.
Box 1 Folder 19
Massachusetts, Bentley College, reports and papers, 1983 July 21-22.
Box 1 Folder 20
Indiana, Sheraton Meridian in Indianapolis, program of sessions, reports, and correspondence, 1984 July 19-21.
Box 1 Folder 21
Virginia, Gunston Hall in Lorton and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, program of sessions, reports, and correspondence, 1985 July 25-27.
Box 1 Folder 22
Tennessee, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, program of sessions, reports, correspondence, and article, 1986 July 24-26.
Box 1 Folder 23
Pennsylvania, Temple University in Philadelphia, program of sessions, reports, and correspondence, 1987 July 16-18.
Box 1 Folder 24
Massachusetts, American Antiquarian Society, Old Sturbridge Village, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, program of sessions, list of attendees, minutes, reports, and correspondence, 1988 July 21-23.
Box 1 Folder 25
Virginia, University of Virginia and Monticello in Charlottesville, program of sessions, reports, and paper, 1989 July 20-22.
Box 1 Folder 26
Canada, York University in Toronto, program of sessions, correspondence, reports, and constitution, 1990 August 2-4.
Box 1 Folder 27
Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin, Madison, reports and correspondence, 1991 July 26-28.
Box 1 Folder 28
Pennsylvania, Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, program of sessions, reports, and correspondence, 1992 July 16-19.
Box 1 Folder 29
North Carolina, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, program of sessions, reports, attendee list, correspondence, papers, and draft of constitution, 1993 July 22-25.
Box 1 Folder 30
Massachusetts, Boston College in Boston, program of sessions, correspondence, reports, and article, 1994 July 14-17.
Box 1 Folder 31

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