A Farewell but Not a Goodbye

A Farewell but Not a Goodbye

Jacqueline Antonovich

Today marks the nine-year anniversary of Nursing Clio. Nine years! It’s basically eighteen in blog years. We’ve been around for so long that we’ve seen several amazing academic blogs come and go, while we still chug along. So Happy Anniversary, Nursing Clio!

And farewell.

Today, I’m announcing my retirement as Nursing Clio’s executive editor. It’s a bittersweet day, indeed.

Nursing Clio team members at the AHA. Left to right: Jacki Antonovich, Lizzie Reis, RE Fulton, Cassia Roth, Laura Ansley, Cassandra Berman, Ayah Nuriddin, Lara Freidenfelds, and Molly Brookfield.
Nursing Clio team members at the AHA. Left to right: Jacki Antonovich, Lizzie Reis, RE Fulton, Cassia Roth, Laura Ansley, Cassandra Berman, Ayah Nuriddin, Lara Freidenfelds, and Molly Brookfield. (Courtesy of author)

Nursing Clio and I grew up together, academically. If you’ve known me long enough, you’ve heard the origin story of the blog. During my second semester of graduate school, I had the opportunity to take a public humanities seminar with historian Matthew Countryman. For the final, rather than assigning a traditional seminar paper, Matthew asked us to create a project that did not merely “serve” the community, but also engaged with the public in a way that fostered the co-production of knowledge. Now, to give you some context into my thinking, this was 2012 – an election year where politicians and pundits were debating abortion, “legitimate rape,” and the legality and morality of birth control. As the so-called “war on women” gained momentum, my scholarly interests began appearing on the news every day in a contemporary context. And very few people, it seemed, were commenting on those connections between past and present – one of the reasons I thought a project like Nursing Clio was urgent and necessary. As I initially conceived it, Nursing Clio could offer a place for historians, especially women-identified historians, to contemplate the ways that our history shapes our lives – a space that could allow us to highlight the aspects of the histories of gender, sexuality, and medicine that seem to resonate most powerfully in the world around us.

So, I typed out a rather long-winded proposal to a few colleagues across the country and was surprised at the enthusiastic response. As a team, we began building Nursing Clio. We crafted a mission statement, which emphasized the goal of connecting historical scholarship to contemporary issues, and we came up with a tagline – “The Personal Is Historical,” which adds a new dimension to the groundbreaking feminist claim that “the personal is political.” And now we’ve spent over nine years growing Nursing Clio, refining our process, and cultivating what I’ve come to call a “deliberate feminist space.” We’ve worked to flatten academic hierarchies, respect all voices, and promote a truly collaborative, rigorous, and accessible project. I should also add that I earned an A on the project.

Nursing Clio editors at the Berks, 2017. Left to right: Lauren MacIvor Thompson, Averill Earls, Sarah Handley-Cousins, Jacqueline Antonovich, Laura Ansley.
Nursing Clio editors at the Berks, 2017. Left to right: Lauren MacIvor Thompson, Averill Earls, Sarah Handley-Cousins, Jacqueline Antonovich, Laura Ansley. (Courtesy of the author)

Under my editorship, Nursing Clio has published over 2,000 articles and has been linked to by the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Slate, CNN, Ms. Magazine, The Atlantic, and PBS, among others. We have been featured in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives in History and been reviewed by the Journal of American History. Over nine years, Nursing Clio has garnered more than two million original visits, and our essays have been included in more than 200 class syllabi across the United States, Canada, the UK, and Europe. Several of our essays have been translated for publication in Latin American venues. As executive editor, I’ve managed a team of sixteen editors, made up of graduate students, professors, public history professionals, and trained historians who work outside academia. Over the years, we’ve published an average of three essays per week and our authors include historians, sociologists, bioethicists, public health scholars, art historians, anthropologists, media studies scholars, and community activists. We also have a continuing series focusing on undergraduate writing, where we work with students to review, edit, and publish their work.

In the meantime, I’ve graduated from the University of Michigan with a PhD, and I’m finishing up my third year as an assistant professor of history at Muhlenberg College. Although I’ve spent the last nine years focusing on my scholarship and honing my pedagogy, I’ve also represented Nursing Clio at numerous conferences, given invited talks on public scholarship, and consulted with other academic organizations looking to explore digital and public history. As you can see, my whole academic identity is intimately tied to our little blog. I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of this project and incredibly nervous to step down as executive editor.

But it’s time.

It’s time to give the project a breath of fresh air with new leadership, new ideas, and a new vision for moving forward. I’m happy to announce that Sarah Handley-Cousins, who has served as an editor with the blog since 2015, will be Nursing Clio’s new executive editor. Sarah is a Clinical Assistant Professor of History and Associate Director of the Center for Disability Studies at the University at Buffalo. She is author of Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North (UGA, 2019), and is a producer of Dig: A History Podcast.

My retirement is a farewell, but not a goodbye. Over the summer, I’ll be working on creating an advisory board for Nursing Clio to offer guidance, insight, and support for the editors and writers. I’m not quite sure what the role of executive editor emeritus will be, but I am looking forward to finding out.

I want to thank everyone who has been part of this project over the years. To our writers, especially our regular contributors Emily Contois, Cara Delay, Lara Freidenfelds, Bridget Keown, Evan Sullivan, Sarah Swedberg, and Karen Weingarten: I’m in awe of your willingness to lend your immense talent to this project. To the staff of Nursing Clio – Carrie Adkins, Laura Ansley, Cassandra Berman, Molly Brookfield, Vicki Daniel, Averill Earls, R.E. Fulton, Sarah Handley-Cousins, Lauren MacIvor Thompson, Gianna May Sanchez, Elizabeth Reis, Eileen Sperry, and all of our past editors – I am humbled by your intellect, your compassion, your curiosity, your commitment to public scholarship, and most of all, your friendship. Thank you for being on this journey with me.

To our readers and supporters: thank you for giving us a chance. Thank you for reading, sharing, and promoting our work. Thank you for assigning our essays in your classes and linking to us in your magazine and newspaper articles. The blog is in good hands, my friends, and the best is yet to come.

Featured image caption: Nursing Clio editors at Gettysburg. Back row (from left to right): Sarah Handley-Cousins, Averill Earls, Laura Ansley. Front center: Jacqueline Antonovich.

Jacqueline Antonovich is the creator and co-founder of Nursing Clio and served as executive editor from 2012 to 2021. She is an Assistant Professor of History at Muhlenberg College. Her current research focuses on women physicians, race, gender, and medical imperialism in the American West. Jacqueline received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2018.

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