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The Index

July 2024
2min read

DURING THE PAST few seasons, more and more readers have asked us when A MERICAN H ERITAGE will be publishing a new cumulative index; the last five-year index ends with 1974, while the more recent annuals decrease in utility as they grow in number. We re happy to announce a new cumulative index that covers every issue from our beginning through October of 1982. Those wishing to order one should refer to the instructions under the masthead on the inside front cover of this issue. Meanwhile, we offer the following excerpt from its preface, which was written—as is only proper—by one of our founding editors.

IT IN AN INTENSE pleasure for someone who helped put together the very first issue of A MERICAN H ERITAGE , the bimonthly magazine of history, to welcome a new cumulative index of our first twenty-eight years, running from December 1954 through October 1982. I can look up at my bookcase as I write this and see the issues standing in order, tight-packed and white-spined through my years as editor (well, yellowing a little here and there), and many colors since. Within the covers, however, editors and writers continue in much the same way to illuminate and illustrate in every field the adventures of America and its people, and the tragedies and triumphs of the republic.

Twenty-eight years times six numbers a year comes to 168, and this total leaves out special issues like The Nineties and New York . But the 168, fairly well squeezed together, come to six feet six inches, or a full foot longer than that once-famous compendium of knowledge “Dr. Eliot’s Five-Foot Shelf.” Is my arithmetic faulty? No, for Charles William Eliot, who turned Harvard from a college into a university, gave full measure. His shell was actually five and a half feet long. But A MERICAN H ERITAGE too strives to give full measure. There are, for example, eleven entries on Dr. Eliot in our index, including a full biographical piece about him by his great-grandson.

There is a more important measure, however, to the value of a magazine of history, even if we did not fully perceive it at first. It is timeless. The subject matter is always current, whether one is writing about footholds in the wilderness or footsteps on the Moon. Although historians may make new discoveries, disprove hallowed traditions, and argue about conclusions, old issues of this magazine, unlike old newspapers, are never out of date. Read the old ones and grow in wisdom. What A MERICAN H ERITAGE has become, almost accidentally, is a kind of encyclopedia of American history: six feet six of articles by a dazzling list of contributors, living and dead, and a vast museum of American art and photography, past and present, much of it unearthed for the first time by our picture staff.

The key that unlocks the encyclopedia and the museum is of course this index, which supersedes an assortment of other partial indexes, mostly out of print. It is not just longtime subscribers (who rarely seem to discard their issues) who have been demanding this finding aid, but students, scholars, educators, collectors, researchers, and above all, librarians.

History continues to be made and chronicled. We never run out of raw material, as a few early reviewers of A MERICAN H ERITAGE thought we might, and this huge, if unintended, encyclopedia keeps steaming down the track of time. Let it never stop, like Dr. Eliot, at some arbitrary destination, and may there be another index, and another and another, into the mists of the future.

—Oliver Jensen

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