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Editors’ Note

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2023

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Editor’s Note
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

Make some noise! In this issue of JGAPE, special issue editors Rebecca Tinio McKenna and David Suisman bring us new work on the sonic worlds of the early twentieth century. In their Introduction McKenna and Suisman tell us (quoting Michele Friedner and Stefan Helmreich) that sound indicates “a vibration of a certain frequency in a material medium,” and the following essays show just how rich and varied those vibrations were. Sam Backer follows a song plugger through one exhausting night of pushing a Tin Pan Alley tune to prospective performers. Urban audiences made some songs huge hits, and, Backer argues, those songs in turn helped shape the world of commercialized leisure. Katherrine Healey examines “rehabilitate” veterans whose hearing had been damaged during the war to show how “sounding American” became a way to define ever more narrowly the parameters of American citizenship. Jessica Dauterive, Matthew Karush, and Michael O’Malley turn to the ambitious public history website Hearing the Americas, describing how the website uses digital tools to “develop a new methodology for music history and sound studies.” Through three case studies they demonstrate the tremendous “potential of music itself as primary source material” for historians. Carlene Stephens turns our attention to the physical recordings themselves, in this case three wax cylinder recordings from 1899. Stephens considers the experiences of listening recordings in 1889 and what it means to listening to them today, as we think about their original audiences over one hundred years ago.

The special issue on sound and music continues with two essays about using sound and music in the classroom and beyond. Sam Backer shows how “noise and music” can open up new worlds of learning and exploration, and Carlene Stephens brings together images, objects, and period sounds to expand the ways historians can think and talk about the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Few books have had as much impact on our field as Daniel T. Rodgers’s magisterial Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age. On the occasion the twenty-fifth anniversary of its publication, Rob McGreevey asked Adam Hodges, Amy Kittelstrom, and Noam Maggor to come together and consider how Atlantic Crossing has shaped their own work and how historians have built, and continue to build, on the book’s broad shoulders. As always, we conclude the issue with a wide-ranging collection of book reviews.