The Historical is Personal: 5th Anniversary Reflections

In honor of Nursing Clio’s 5-year-anniversary, I planned to write an essay about our origin story. It is a fascinating tale — I started the blog as a final project in a grad seminar on public scholarship — but ultimately, I decided it’s not what I want to write about. I would rather celebrate our anniversary by writing about the people who make the blog possible — how they came to work on Nursing Clio, the daily labor they put into the project, and how their professional and personal guidance has helped drive Nursing Clio in new and exciting directions. By exploring their “origin stories,” I want to shed light on how the success of Nursing Clio is not due to impersonal online working relationships; rather, over the past five years we’ve worked hard to foster personal relationships with each other through networking at conferences, meeting for dinner or drinks, organizing panels, and going on hikes together (ok, that was one time).

Please let me introduce you to the team:

The Old-Timers

I’ve often referred to Carrie Adkins as the heart of Nursing Clio. I have also called her the taskmaster, the bosslady, or the calendar queen. As our longtime Managing Editor, Carrie makes the blog run. She oversees our calendar, assigns editors to submitted essays, and makes sure both writers and editors do their jobs. She also fields any questions or concerns from our writers as they work on their essays. It’s a big job.

Jacki, Lizzie, and Carrie hiking (that one time) (Courtesy of the author).

I first met Carrie in 2012. We were on a panel together at the Western Association of Women Historians conference (WAWH). This was right around the time I was formulating Nursing Clio and I knew instantly that I wanted her to be a part of the team. At the time, she was doing her Ph.D. at the University of Oregon and her ideas were smart, her scholarship was innovative, and most of all, she was friendly and funny. Her ideas, input, and energy during those early days of Nursing Clio were fundamental to getting the project off the ground. Additionally, her unique expertise in the history of gynecology has been an asset to our editing team. Over the years, we’ve cultivated a strong professional and personal relationship. In addition to our online work and semi-regular Skype calls, we’ve talked Nursing Clio business over drinks in Eugene, dinner in Palo Alto, and beignets in New Orleans. After five years as Managing Editor, Carrie is relinquishing her role as Calendar Queen. Although I am sad she will no longer be our taskmaster, I am happy to report that she will be Editor-Emeritus, sharing Content Editor duties with Elizabeth Reis.

The other old-timer in the group is Adam Turner. As Layout Editor, he is responsible for making our site beautiful, readable, and accessible. Once an essay has been edited and revised, he transfers it from Google Docs to our WordPress site. He also finds and sources all the accompanying images and makes sure we don’t get in trouble for copyright infringement. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to open WordPress after an essay is ready to publish and marvel at all the beautiful images our layout editors have found. Adam also takes care of any technical issues or emergencies we occasionally run into. More than just finding images or problem solving, Adam is responsible for the entire design of Nursing Clio. After a few years of relying on a simple WordPress theme, Adam redesigned the entire blog from the ground up. Everything you see (and don’t see) on Nursing Clio — the design, the coding — is all Adam.

I first met Adam online. When Nursing Clio was in its conceptual phase, Carrie recommended Adam to become one of the co-founders. As a fellow grad student at the University of Oregon, Carrie knew Adam’s work as a disability scholar would add a critical perspective to the project, and his computer skills would prove invaluable to a group of historians who knew nothing about the technical side of blogging. Over the past five years, Adam and I have been on conference panels together, we and our spouses have had dinner together, and I even invited him to join my pub trivia team once when he was in Ann Arbor doing dissertation research.

Nursing Clio business cards. Write for us!

The Eagle Eye

As Content Editor, Elizabeth Reis makes sure we don’t screw it up. A professor at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, Lizzie knew Adam and Carrie from her days at the University of Oregon, and she was an early reader of the blog. She also contributed essays on various topics like intersex rights and the controversy over male circumcision. Having a recognized scholar contribute to our blog in its early days was such an important piece of our success, and I am forever grateful for her support. Lizzie would always email or Facebook message us when she caught an error in one of our blog posts. We would dutifully go in and correct our mistakes, but it was an embarrassing display of our inexperience. We invited her to join the editing team, and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. As Content Editor, Lizzie is the last person in the editing chain to read a post. She checks for any grammar/editing mistakes that the editors may have missed, and occasionally flags larger content issues that have slipped through the cracks.

I met Lizzie in person at the 2013 AHA conference in New Orleans. She was already working as our “Eagle Eye” and had also agreed to chair an all-Nursing Clio panel at the conference. Before the panel, we all met up at the Carousel Lounge for drinks and discussion. I’ll never forget the look on Lizzie’s face when I told her I was a first-year graduate student. She later confided that she was shocked that a new grad student was behind Nursing Clio. I am so grateful that she didn’t quit right then because over the last few years she has become a good friend and an even greater mentor. And just like Carrie and Adam, our relationship has evolved online, through phone conversations, and in person. She and her husband Matt have hosted me at their house, we’ve shared meals together, and of course, there was that hike up Mt. Baldy (she hiked circles around Carrie and me).

The Editors Who Came Out of the Blue

Lauren McIvor Thomas and Sarah Handley-Cousins work ridiculously hard. As Editors, they are the ones who do the heavy lifting. After Carrie receives an essay from a writer, she assigns either one or two editors to review it, depending on her estimation of how much work needs to be done. They carefully read through each essay, line-edit when necessary, and offer comments and suggestions for revisions. After a writer revises, Sarah and Lauren read the piece again to make sure it’s ready to move forward. We publish between 8-16 essays per month, so you can just imagine how much work those two do.

Lauren & Sarah. (Courtesy of the author.)

Sarah is one of the first editors who came to us out of the blue. She first began as a regular writer for Nursing Clio. As a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo writing a dissertation on disability in the Civil War, she contributed several essays on things like veterans’ rights and the Bowe Bergdahl desertion case. Every essay she submitted was flawless and required little-to-no editing. When we had an opening for an editor, we all agreed that we needed to convince Sarah to join our team.

I was “introduced” online to Lauren through a mutual friend who recognized that we both had similar academic interests. At the time, Lauren was a Ph.D. student at Georgia State University writing a dissertation on law, medicine, and the history of birth control. She was also a contributor to the blog Tropics of Meta. I first persuaded her to write a piece for us in 2014 on the Hobby Lobby contraception case. Like Sarah, her writing was perfect — and it was funny! She was such a breath of fresh air for Nursing Clio that I eventually poached her from Tropics of Meta (sorry, Alex), and she came on board as a regular writer. Over time, we promoted her to Editor, and she and Sarah became our dynamic duo.

The Newbies

R.E. Fulton is our newest addition to the editing team. With a Master’s degree in American History from the University of Rochester, R.E. joins Lauren and Sarah at our virtual editor’s desk. Like Sarah, R.E. first submitted an essay to us out of the blue. You’re probably sensing a pattern by now — R.E.’s first essay on Lydia Pinkham was flawless. In fact, every essay R.E. submits is brilliant and perfect. When we were looking to expand our roster of editors, we were thrilled when R.E. agreed to join us. I have not met R.E. in person, but I am looking forward to meeting them at the Berks in June.

Averill Earls is a busy woman. In addition to her VAP-turned-Tenure-Track position at Mercyhurst University, running a history consultant business, and working on The History Buffs Podcast, she is our Assistant Layout Editor in her spare time. Her position at Nursing Clio has allowed us to expand our weekly posts without overburdening Adam. Additionally, she has created several digital graphics projects for us, including our graphics for our recent series on The Handmaid’s Tale.

Laura Ansley. What can I say about Laura? As our Social Media Manager, Laura has breathed new life into Nursing Clio. I first met Laura when Lauren arranged for us to be on a panel together at the 2016 AAHM conference. We hit it off so well that she submitted her first essay to us before the conference even ended. Laura wrote several more essays for us, and her enthusiasm for Nursing Clio was infectious. Before long, I asked her to take over managing our social media accounts, and soon she was also editing essays and assisting Carrie with managing the blog. I am in constant awe of her organizational skills, her creativity, and her drive. Now that Carrie is retiring from her Managing Editor position, I can think of no better person than Laura to take over the job.

Lauren, Laura, and Jacki at the 2016 AAHM Conference.

Finally, I am thrilled to announce that Stephanie McKellop is taking over Laura’s old job as Social Media Manager. Stephanie is a Ph.D student in History at the University of Pennsylvania, but you are probably more familiar with their work on Twitter. For the past few years, Stephanie has been a vocal advocate for issues surrounding class, poverty, first generation/low income, mental illness, disability, race, gender, and sexuality, and students’ rights. Stephanie’s social media activism is a perfect fit for us, and I am excited to see the ideas she will bring to Nursing Clio.

So, yeah … this essay was supposed to be all about how I started Nursing Clio, but I’ll save that story for another time. Nursing Clio is five years old now and the story is not about how we started, but rather, how we continue to grow. I was recently interviewed for AHA’s Perspectives about the growing popularity of collaborative history blogs. The article focused on how academic blogs provide “valuable writing and editing opportunities,” while also offering a vehicle for making “connections” with other scholars. I think it’s this “connection” aspect that we often overlook and undervalue. Certainly, Nursing Clio has provided its editors and writers with professional networking opportunities, but there’s more to it. I started this blog during my first year as a Ph.D. student. Essentially, Nursing Clio and I have grown up together, academically. Graduate school is hard, and it’s often incredibly isolating. The value in collaborative blogs like Nursing Clio is in their ability to create and foster community. That’s something that can’t quite be quantified for a tenure file, or even fit anywhere on a CV, but it is, nonetheless, important. My community has not only made Nursing Clio flourish, they have helped me survive and succeed in graduate school.

Thank you, Carrie, Adam, Lizzie, Sarah, Lauren, R.E., Averill, Laura, and Stephanie.

Happy Birthday, Nursing Clio!

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2 Comments

Janet Golden

Lovely anniversary post. And please, call me when you are in Philadelphia and join my pub trivia team which happens to be called “Team Librarians.”

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