Becoming A Historian: A Canadian Manual
Franca Iacovetta and Molly Ladd-Taylor
Catherine Carstairs, Dominique Clément, Robert Dennis, Lisa Helps, Rhonda Hinther and Heather Steel
Welcome to the new online edition of the Canadian version of Becoming a Historian! This ongoing project has been jointly sponsored by the Canadian Historical Association and the American Historical Association. Becoming a Historian is divided into 12 chapters. Each chapter is accessible via the links on the left sidebar. You can view the chapter directly in html or download a copy in pdf. The horizontal links on the top will direct you to some supplementary resources to complement the chapters. You can also download Becoming a Historian in its entirety.
This site is intended to provide guidance and practical advice to graduate history students in Canadian universities and junior history professors employed in Canadian institutions. In addition to updated information and an expanded bibliography of resource materials, this second edition includes new chapters on sessional jobs, postdoctoral fellowships, becoming a public historian, and pursuing a career outside the academy. Students in US programs contemplating a career in a Canadian university will find much practical information about the Canadian scene. We encourage candidates in Canadian programs who intend to seek jobs in the United States to consult both this manual and the many publications available through the website of the American Historical Association (AHA).
In 1999, Franca Iacovetta and Molly Ladd-Taylor co-ordinated a collaborative project that produced the first Canadian version of the original AHA manual; they also edited the final product. As CHA Council member with the portfolio for women and graduate students, Franca Iacovetta had initiated the project, which was endorsed by the CHA's Canadian Committee on Women's History and the CHA's Graduate Students' Committee. We were grateful to Melanie Gustafson, editor of the original AHA manual, the AHA Committee on Women Historians, and the AHA for their permission to use, revise, and "Canadianize" their manual. Since then, the English-language paper edition of our manual sold out, and Melanie Gustafson incorporated some of our material in her revised AHA handbook. We thank her again for her generosity in sharing with us her original manual.
We have updated the original CHA manual in response to the changes in graduate student funding, the job market, scholarly publishing, and other academic practises across North America since 1999. For example, funding for PhD studies in Canada has improved significantly since we wrote the first version of the manual, and the internet has transformed our teaching, research, and publications. Departmental websites have made it easier for job candidates to research the department that interviews them, but also raised the bar with respect to how much candidates are expected to know about a hiring department's faculty and the university as a whole. Employment equity policies and the growth of multidisciplinary fields such as sexuality studies and disability studies have led to progress in hiring and support for openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) faculty, faculty with disabilities, people of colour, Aboriginal faculty, and especially women.
However, we do not want to exaggerate the changes; we still have a very long way to go towards addressing pressing equity issues. We have seen an enormous growth in Canadian Aboriginal history, for example, but the scholars remain overwhelmingly white. The manual acknowledges the failure of history departments across Canada to recruit or hire more than a handful of Aboriginal historians and historians of colour: the CHA (unlike the AHA) has shied away from adopting strategies to promote the diversification of the Canadian historical profession. This is frustrating because racial diversity is not just a big city issue, but a national and international one. The handbook also discusses the continuing problems of discrimination and sexual harassment on the job, and the challenges of juggling family and career.
The main aim is to guide you through the various stages of becoming a historian, from a promising graduate history student to a practising scholar. And a good deal of the basic advice remains the same as it was in 1999. In writing this new and online edition of the Becoming a Historian manual, we have once again expended a lot of advice – and, once again, we have learned a lot. We hope that it will help graduate students – our own and others - and junior colleagues to become historians or otherwise build meaningful professional careers.
Molly Ladd-Taylor, Department of History, York University