On Tuesday, H-Net Associate Director Heather Hawley sent H-Tennessee subscribers the following message:

I am writing to you to ask that you help us determine the fate of
H-Tennessee.  You are well aware that the list has not posted since November 2010.  The list editors, labored faithfully to develop the network’s potential, and feel that there is no longer an interest for this list. H-Net considers its networks to be permanent resources — as editorial staffs change, audiences and fields remain.

Let me ask, then, that the subscribers write to h-tennessee@h-net.msu.edu to tell us what they wish to do with the list:

– revive the list with the same or different, related mission — perhaps to a more sharply-defined subject;

In order to revive the list, we will need an editorial staff for it: at
least two online editors to handle list traffic, an advisory board of
scholars (at least six, including the editors), a web editor to develop the list’s web site, and a book review editor if the list wishes to commission book and software reviews.  Information on becoming an editor or board member may be found at

http://www.h-net.org/contact/nomination.html

– terminate the list

If we determine that the response (or nonresponse) to this message warrants it, we can terminate the list without further efforts to revive it.  The list’s logs will remain accessible at H-Net’s web site.

Our VP of Networks, Jonathan Anuik vp-net@mail.h-net.msu.edu will edit the list until decisions about its future have been made. All queries on becoming a list editor or advisory board member can be directed to vp-net@mail.h-net.msu.edu as well.

As much as I hate to say it, I think it’s time to mothball H-Tennessee. When Brian McKnight and Connie Lester started the network in 2001,  and I joined as its first list editor, we had every reason to expect success. H-Net was still at its height of popularity, and carving out a niche for Tennessee history seemed like a great idea. While H-Tennessee never achieved the notoriety of other networks, such as H-SHEAR during the Bellesiles controversy, it served a purpose for its first three years. Beginning in 2005, the inactivity of H-Tennessee became an issue with the H-Net administration. Despite our efforts, the list editors (Derek Frisby and Mike Bowen eventually shared that title with me) weren’t able to breathe life into the network.

Unfortunately, I think H-Tennessee’s demise is indicative of what’s happening with H-Net in general. Most of the H-Net networks that I subscribe to have simply become pipelines for announcements. Even H-SHEAR, which I co-edited for several years and which has been a model H-Net “list,” rarely has the kind of discussion that Craig Friend generated recently.

I have heard from several H-Net editors that there is a new platform on the way that will bring H-Net into the 21st century world of social media. I hope they’re right and that the transformation revives the H-Net that was so valuable to me in grad school.

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