Five years ago, The Junto was born. The immediate context was parochial: as a PhD student studying early American history at the University of Cambridge, I was lonely for fellow scholars. But the niche the blog filled was much more broad: there was a need for a digital space to serve as a hub for early American scholarship. The reception we’ve since received, and the readership we still welcome, has been overwhelming. The blog’s success is indicative of our field’s vibrancy.
We were far from the first academic blog, nor were we the last. Preceding us were sites like Religion in American History and US Intellectual History; some that have appeared since include Black Perspectives, Borealia, and Age of Revolutions. (I can’t remember if Nursing Clio came before us, but they’ve also been a big influence.) We have learned from and interacted with all these and other blogs, and consider ourselves fortunate to be part of that community. We also hope we’ve created our own tone and scope, which I outlined here.
Most humbling has been the numbers that reflect our vibrant digital society. Since 2012, we have had almost 1.5 million views. Our 978 individual posts have received almost 5,500 comments. We’ve featured over 200 guest posts, a number we hope to build on in the future. We have around 5,000 subscribers on WordPress, nearly 7,300 followers on Twitter, and over 3,000 followers on Facebook.
We’ve tried to offer a diversity of content. That includes 15 distinct round tables, dozens of scholarly interviews, around 75 book reviews (about half of which were in our popular review/interview format), 100 posts on digital and public history, and 3-dozen hours of podcasts. Our most popular tags are American Revolution, slavery, academia, historiography, pedagogy, Native Americans, and public history.
We are also facing new and unique challenges. We have yet to achieve much-needed and past-due author diversity, something we are still working on. We are also not producing as much content as years’ past, mirroring the fact we are (mostly) not energetic young grad students anymore. Pursuant to both these issues, now is probably a good time to reiterate our call for potential new members and our openness to guest posts as part of making the blog a platform for all junior early Americanists and not just blog members.
My sincere thanks to all the fellow bloggers who took a chance to make this blog possible, but massive applause to our thousands of readers who made this venture what it is. Here’s to the next five years!