RiAH @ 10: Celebrating Community



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Monica L. Mercado

Finding community (at the Catholic
Summer School of America, 1897).
Where has the time gone? As July comes to an end, I've been catching up on the many tributes to our humble blog and blogmeister(s) during this tenth anniversary year, and coping with the waves of nostalgia that I feel looking at my very first RiAH blog post -- a summertime musing on a summertime history, that of the late nineteenth-century women of the Catholic Summer School of America. A few posts later, I remain grateful to this community for intellectual companionship and camaraderie, both online and off.

As a historian of women's religious and intellectual communities, it is perhaps no surprise that I first came to the blog seeking virtual community.

A Ph.D. student in a History department where very few students took religion seriously, I wondered what new work on women and gender in American religious history could look like, and years before I ever wrote for RiAH, I read and re-read and bookmarked posts like Kelly Baker's 2011 reflections on teaching religion and gender in American history and women's history month series (Introduction + Parts III, and III) -- a series that inspired Carol Faulkner's 2015 interviews with scholars on their favorite books about women in American religion. If you look at the "gender and religion" and "women's history" tags on this blog, some of my favorite posts of the last ten years pop up: from Janine Giordano's analysis of the Susan B. Anthony List to Laura Liebman's history of religion and cosmetics, Katie Lofton's thoughts on purity and soap opera sex, and Rachel Lindsey on boobs, just to name a few. In recent months, new contributor Andrea Turpin has continued to make RiAH a place I turn to for conversation partners in women's history. I'm proud to have added to the conversation, too, most recently "mapping the women" for this year's roundtable on Kyle Roberts' new book, Evangelical Gotham. (We are #amrelwomen, hear us roar.)

The attention to marginalized subjects such as women and gender doesn't just happen in a group blog,  it's a testament to the community of writers the editors have cultivated at this address. Better yet, RiAH has never had to be told that women also know history. So thank you to Paul Harvey, for your vision and virtual mentorship; to Heath Carter, who solicited my first guest post on those summer stories; and to Ed Blum who got me on the contributors roster in 2013 by telling Paul that I was "this ridiculously interesting U Chicago PhD student who is doing all this neat work." (May I someday live up to such potential!)  Happy birthday, Religion in American History.

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