I really couldn’t be happier with the way the special issue of the Register turned out this spring. Wading into topics on “Environment and Environmentalism in Kentucky” the articles run the gamut from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first and from studies of a single site to a historiographical overview that situates the Commonwealth within the broader currents of environmental history.
My own contribution, “Birth of the Bluegrass: Ecological Transformations of Central Kentucky to 1810” has a long backstory. It started as a seminar paper for a course at U.K., then transformed into a paper for the Ohio Valley History Conference in 2012, where I chatted with a former editor of the Register about the lamentable lack of environmental history on Kentucky. The good folks at the journal were kind enough to accept the expanded essay for publication and it became the seed from which the environmental special issue eventually grew. As it has moved along the publication process, I’ve also used the piece to engage a variety of audiences, from my American history students at Centre College to the American Society of Environmental Historians annual conference and, this July, the Kentucky History Education Conference. By this point, it is a well-traveled article.
Outside of “Birth,” I have to acknowledge that my fingerprints are all over the issue. Any blame for lingering smudges should likely fall to me. Along with the rest of the editorial staff, I performed substantive queries and copyedited each article, hopefully doing less harm than good. I also selected the books for the review section, recruited reviewers for each, and compiled them for publication. I am even still the person on the other end of the e-mail address if you’d like to purchase a paper copy!
All-in-all, I’m proud to have been a part of this effort to bring the environment into Kentucky history and look forward to seeing where the topic goes in the future.