For a few years now, I've been trying to resolve a set of problems
1: With the departure of the original editress, Susan Hughes, and then the second editress, Connie Payne, the Citizen's Companion, which had been a great source for 19th century context, no longer exists in a viable, research-based form.
2: Print publication is beastly expensive.
3: I hate reading ads on web-based publications.
3.1: The last web-based publication was not viable for very long, in part because the reading pool is very small, and the tiny vendors cannot spend enough on ads to make a profit for the publishers.
4: Wouldn't it be nice to bring living history enthusiasts, educators, and historic site folks together in one spot to support the goals of connecting people to our shared national family history?
5: The Sewing Academy main website has a developed name with a *clothing* focus, and bringing in the full range of context I find fascinating would dilute that focus.
6: I, personally, want a stable resource for mid-19th century research and context.I do believe we've found a good solution.
July 1, we're opening a brand new website. It has free subscription access in a blog format, delivering content right to subscribers' email inbox.
When accessed on the website, each article has a PDF download option, to be stored or printed for personal and educational use.
Most articles will have free printable interpretive resources, such as sheet music that prints out in a folio format suitable to have out in a historic setting, or replica paper ephemera that can be used as part of a living history program, education activity, or site props.
All the articles are also available sorted into topic categories, to simplify resource location and research every day of the week, for years to come.
Every topic is open for research: transportation, science, music and the arts, foods, agriculture, social reform, emigrant populations, profession profiles... if it existed in the 19th century, it's a possible topic for inclusion. Also on the site: articles and resources to improve living history interpretive planning for both private enthusiasts and sites.
Now, this kind of access does have a cost; that cost is largely for bandwidth transfer. The blog-style format streamlines the bandwidth use quite a lot, which helps, and David and I are committed to rolling those costs as far as possible into our normal business operating costs. (He's quite practical when I get a notion to do something. It's useful.) To make the project as self-supporting as possible, once a year we'll compile all the articles and resources published in the previous 365 days into a stand-alone printed volume, which will be made available at a price that covers the printing costs, and lets us roll a bit of profit toward the operating costs of the database. Purchase of the print compilation is entirely optional, but we hope many readers will want a bound copy on their shelf for future reference, of course!
So, yeah: kind of fun. What was the request?
Do you have a pet passion related to the 19th century? Would you like to share it? You'll find information about the depth and style of articles we're interested in adding at the link below, along with the complete writer's agreement (in plain English!) and a way to submit content.
I won't be going public with the request for writers until after 1 July... until then, I wanted to let the community here on the Forum have first dibs on topics. http://www.historyinsitu.com/about/write-for-in-situ/
If you have any questions about the whole History In Situ project, please let me know! I have a specific email for this one: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEW... feels good to go semi-public. I've been fermenting and percolating about this for a year.