Perspective Articles Guidelines

Revised February 20, 2019

Basic Guidelines

1) Each Perspectives article should be approximately 1,500 to 2,000 words.  The Perspectives article should be written for a broad, popular audience although your work will likely be seen by scholars as well.  Your article should focus on a unique aspect of the historical event you are describing or your own special vantage point as its chronicler.  If you are writing about an individual that you knew, you should emphasize your relationship with the person and the ways in which you were influenced by her or his values or actions.  If you are writing as an eyewitness to an event, please recount the event as you saw it, taking into consideration your own attitudes (and biases) concerning it.  If you are presenting the synopsis of a forthcoming or recently published book that you wrote, draw from the material in the book but also describe why you wrote it, the challenges you faced in the research and writing, and the insights that BlackPast.org visitors will gain from reading it. 

2) Perspectives articles do not have footnotes or endnotes but you must list sources including your own work.  List no more than three sources.  Each source should follow our standard website style.  You should italicize only the book or journal title in your source.  The following examples are written in the style appropriate for the website:

For Books:
John Smith, Black History (New York: New Publishing Company, 1999).

For Articles:
John Smith, “Article title in Journal,” Journal Title 54:2 (Fall 2004).

For Internet Sources:
John Smith, “The History of History,” Journal of History March, 1999, http://www.JournalofHistory/blackhistory.com/.  If you cite a website, please make sure the link works before you send in your article.

There should always be a semicolon between citations, e.g., John Smith, Black History in the West (New York: New Publishing Company, 1999); John Smith, “Article Title in Journal,” Journal Title 54;2 (Fall 2004).

3) Avoid information that cannot be documented in your article such as “her career was destroyed by white racism” or “he was the greatest athlete, musician, artist, etc., of all time.”  Avoid using the article primarily as a forum for your own editorial comments about people or events.

4)  Each article should follow the standard BlackPast.org website style.  That means the entry title is in bold type at the left margin.  Paragraphs should not be indented.  Book, journal, album, or CD titles that appear in the body of your article or in the Sources section should be italicized.  

5) Always spell out the name of an organization/political entity when it is used for the first time in your article.  For example, write the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  For all subsequent times in the article, the NAACP is appropriate. Remember, website visitors are from around the world.  Do not assume that they will automatically know abbreviations or even events that are familiar to those who study African American history or American history.  Do not, for example, use state initials such as KY for Kentucky.  Spell out the name of the state each time it is used in the article.

6) Please submit the article in a Word file.  Single space your article and be sure to include your name and your institutional affiliation, e.g., college, museum, public school, or historical society at the end of your article after the Sources.  If you do not wish to list an affiliation with any organization or institution, the staff will list “Independent Historian” in that space unless instructed to do otherwise. Example:

Contributor:
John Smith
University of Washington, Seattle

7) Although there will be some copy editing, please do your best to provide an article that is free of typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors.

8)  Photos or other images are crucial to the success of your article. You are not required to provide a photo to accompany your article but if you do, please provide the image of the individual, place, or event in a separate jpeg. file.    Do NOT embed the photo in your article file.  Do NOT send the photo in a Word document.  When you send the photo make sure you have determined who owns the image as BlackPast.org must obtain copyright permission to use it.  Do not provide an image WITHOUT that information.  Always seek an image in the public domain since it will be free.  That means the image should appear in a publication dated before 1925 or it should be from a federal government source such as the Library of Congress or the National Archives.  Do not assume that because an image is found on the Internet that it is automatically in the public domain.  Please check to determine copyright ownership.  

Avoid images from Getty Images or the Associated Press as they are exceedingly costly.  Try instead to get images from universities, libraries, historical societies, and especially federal governmental agencies. Here is a direct link to the enormous Library of Congress Collection.  Begin your search for photographs here:

Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 20540-4730 

If the only photo available is from the Web, be sure to include the Internet address.  Also make sure the photo from the Internet is an adequate size.  Anything smaller than 100 KB appears tiny on the website page. 

We also recommend that you search Yahoo Images http://images.search.yahoo.com/ for the nearly 1.5 billion images available on the web.

Finally, please send the photo with a caption that shows what the photo is and lists the ownership in parentheses.  Thus an image caption will read:

Sojourner Truth, ca. 1865 (Library of Congress)

9)  Send in your biography in a Word file and your photo separately in jpeg format.  Your photo and bio will appear on your bio page and will be linked to your article.  Your bio should be no more than 200 words.  

Please send your own photo as a jpeg.  It should be in color but we will accept a black and white image.  The image must be at least 100 kb so that it shows clearly on the website.  You should send the photo and bio before you submit your article.

10) If your bio changes because you move, graduate, or switch institutional affiliation, please let us know as soon as possible.  In fact we recommend that you update your bio annually to reflect any changes in your status.  

Finally, look to the existing Perspectives articles for guidance on style, tone, and form.  Here is the link to previously posted articles:

https://www.blackpast.org/?q=perspectives/list

Thank you for agreeing to write for BlackPast.org (www.blackpast.org)