Created by students at Stony Brook University, the Undergraduate History Journal seeks to give authors and “aspiring historians” an opportunity to showcase their work.
Eric Zolov, a history professor and faculty advisor for the Stony Brook History Club, explained the importance of the journal’s launch in an email to The Statesman.
“It marks a tremendous milestone in the club’s evolution and is destined, I’m certain, to become a positive force in drawing attention to the strength and vitality of the History Department,” Zolov wrote. “The journal will serve as an outlet for student and faculty voices to show what it means to think historically — never has that skill set been more valuable than in the present moment!”
For Joshua Berkowitz, the Editor-in-Chief and founder of the project, the idea of the journal dates back to the Fall 2019 semester.
After discovering that multiple prestigious schools had their own place for students to get their peer-reviewed work published, it wasn’t until a shocking discovery that he was prompted to create the journal.
“I looked at SUNY Binghamton, our nearest rival, and sure enough, they had one,” Berkowitz said. “As a Stony Brook student, it’s unacceptable for Binghamton to have it and for us not to have one.”
Afterwards, he reached out to various history professors who supported his idea, but warned him it would be an “uphill battle” in asking students to do additional work along with their current schedules.
After partnering up with fellow students to create a five-person editorial board, they planned the initial launch for the journal for the Spring 2020 semester, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to stay home. By the following fall, the project was back on track.
Peter Lupfer, an editor for the journal who is also the archivist for The Statesman, explained his responsibilities for the team that had him use an arsenal of skills.
“We had to design the website — we needed to get that off the ground,” Lupfer said. “But I’m also the only editor that came into this with substantial editorial experience, so I’m working with the others to make sure we’re all very solid.”
Another editor, Kyle O’Hara, while not bringing editorial experience, brought a partnership with Stony Brook’s History Club that he believes benefits both parties, “It’s best to incorporate [the journal] into the club.”
O’Hara plans to amend the club’s constitution to include mentions of the project and to add an editorial position that will work with the journal.
With many visiting the website, Berkowitz stressed that the journal, despite its name, isn’t strictly research article-based. He is not expecting massive projects.
“I want to tell the story of Stony Brook history,” Berkowitz said. “I want to feature the work of faculty and graduate students to make them aware of what their professors are doing when they’re not busy teaching. I want it to be something very open for people to express their own interest in history.”
Brandon Chavez, a student who interviewed history professor Joshua Teplitsky for the journal, expressed his excitement for the project, “The website’s design is well done and easy to navigate for those who want to read articles from the journal or wish to contribute.”
With a successful launch behind them, the editorial team is seeking to ensure that the project lives on past their departure from Stony Brook. As Lupfer explained, the support from the community has made their work that much more worthwhile.
“Once you have that support, it really makes it a lot easier to spread the word about what we’re doing and to get other younger students involved,” Lupfer said. “Like The Statesman, we hope we can last for decades too.”
The passion behind Stony Brook’s History Department was just another part of what inspired Berkowitz to undertake the project in the first place.
“More than anything, I just wanted to share that with people,” Berkowitz said. “I wanted to make people aware of the department’s passion and how much work goes into actually conducting history — the journal extends that original desire.”