Highlights from the 2023 Mining History Association Conference
By David Turpie
I recently had the pleasure of attending the annual Mining History Association (MHA) conference. I am not a mining historian myself, but I attended as a representative of the Journal of Arizona History (JAH). We are planning to publish a special issue of the JAH on Arizona mining history in 2025, and since the conference was within driving distance, it seemed like a good opportunity to meet some potential authors and promote the journal. As our members can attest, I am a big proponent of planning and producing special issues―meaning an issue of the journal in which all of the articles are on a similar topic or in the same field of study. It often takes a lot of planning and work to produce a special issue, but I think the end result is worth all of that time and energy.
The idea for a special issue on mining history actually came to me as a suggestion from an AHS member. I can’t, of course, accommodate all such suggestions, but in this case, I thought it was a great idea. After searching around online for potential authors, I decided there were enough people researching mining history in this region to move forward with the idea. When we produce special issues, I always like to invite an expert in the field to serve as guest editor. A guest editor’s main duties are to help me recruit authors and to provide guidance to the authors to help them revise and improve their work. I take choosing a guest editor very seriously, and that has always paid off for me. In this case, we are very lucky to have a wonderful guest editor for the 2025 mining history issue: Dr. Eric Nystrom, who teaches at the ASU Polytechnic campus. I asked Eric to serve as guest editor back in 2021, and he readily agreed. We began by coming up with a list of potential authors and then sending out a call for proposals in 2022. The article proposals are due July 31 of this year, which we timed for after the 2023 MHA conference, since we both planned to attend.
The MHA meets every year in June, usually in an area with a rich mining history. This year, the group met in Socorro, New Mexico, on the beautiful, tree-lined campus of New Mexico Tech. The sessions were held in a large auditorium in the Macey Center on campus. Before the conference I had asked one of the organizers if I could put out fliers about the forthcoming special issue. They said yes, so I brought about fifty copies. By the end of the conference only a few remained. Everyone seemed to know each other, which can sometimes make being a newcomer awkward. But everyone I met was so incredibly warm and welcoming, any pre-conference anxiety on my part quickly faded. And it also helped immensely having Eric there to introduce me to potential authors. I particularly enjoyed when Eric introduced me to Robert Spude, who recently retired from the National Park Service. Bob told me has published several articles in the JAH. In fact, he said he’s published with every JAH editor since C. L. Sonnichsen back in the 1970s. “Well, not every editor,” I replied. “You haven’t published with me yet!” That’ll hopefully change in 2025, as Bob had several article ideas for the special issue.
All in all, it was successful trip. We’re expecting article proposals by the end of July this year, and then we’ll have our author lineup set. The authors will have about a year before they need to submit their article manuscripts to me in summer 2024. The peer review and revision process will take another six to nine months, followed by several months of copy-editing, graphic design work, and proofreading. Then, in 2025, after years of planning and behind-the-scenes labor, the Journal of Arizona History’s special issue on Arizona mining history will be finished, mailed to members and available online on Project MUSE. Hopefully everyone will dig it.