Contributor Question: Your History-Related New Year’s Resolutions for 2023


January 14, 2023
by Editors Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

We asked our contributors: What is your history-related New Year’s resolution for 2023? Here are some of their responses.

Robert Scott Davis

To submit for publication my manuscript biography of African American patriot Austin Dabney.

Kim Burdick

As Delaware Chair of the American Friends of Lafayette’s 200th Anniversary of Lafayette’s Triumphal Return, my resolution is to have all the local pieces of that puzzle lined up and ready to roll in 2024.

Steven Park

My history-related New Year’s Resolution for 2023 is to learn how to write with a quill in eighteenth-century roundhand. I have been typing on a keyboard for decades now, and my penmanship is atrocious. My progress has been incremental, I have taught myself how to write slowly with a fountain pen and a dip pen. For 2023 I have signed up to take a calligraphy class at a local community college. My goal is to better match hand-made paper, with the right ink, and nib (and ultimately a quill).

Jack Campbell

My history related New Year’s Resolution is to research and publish two JAR articles, with at least one related to the Continental Marines and/or Samuel Nicholas. This was a goal for 2022 originally but that did not work out.

Bruce L. Petersen

Finding out where Cornwallis and his army was on February 11 and 12, 1781.

Tom Shachtman

My resolution is to do more to write history that does not depend on the reader’s prior knowledge of or level of enthusiasm for history itself, or for the specific subject of the era of the Founders, or that of any other era. We all have to work harder at this task, now that acquiring knowledge of our country’s history is no longer required for adults.

Alex White

To visit Scotland where many soldiers in the American War of Independence claimed ancestry.

M. Andrew Holowchak

I have never been one for resolutions. I merely do the things that need to be done. There is an old Stoic saying to the effect that if a thing is worth doing, one ought to commence immediately to do it. I have however begun a book on the Holodomor—the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932—1933). That was the nadhir of Stalin’s Great Revolution and roughly the beginning of acts of inhumane coercion and violence to instill his discretionary policies.

Charles H. Lagerbom

My history related New Year’s resolution for 2023 is to finish up a couple of writing projects, to clear the boards so-to-speak, so I can delve more deeply into researching the Penobscot Bay history of mid-coast Maine in the 1790s.

Nancy Bradeen Spannaus

My resolution is to finish and publish my book on Why American Slavery Persisted. I believe I can document Gordon Wood’s assertion that the American “Revolution created the first anti-slavery movement in the history of the world,” and that the Hamiltonian economic system (the American System) contained the essential elements to fulfill it. The victories of first Jefferson, and then Andrew Jackson, sabotaged that promise, and led us into civil war. Americans need to know the truth: that we had a strong anti-slavery movement, and that slavery impoverished us. The arc of the Constitution bent toward justice for all.

Doug R. Dorney, Jr.

One, a road-trip to a Revolutionary War site or museum I’ve never visited. And two, to complete my article on South Carolina soldier demographics merging together the information from the three previous articles focusing on Georgia and North Carolina.

David Price

I am resolved to finish reading the manuscript for a 600-page-plus draft of a novel about the “Ten Crucial Days” of the Revolution that a fellow author asked me to review. He was kind enough to do the same for me in connection with my latest book, The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776, so I thought it only right to reciprocate (although I didn’t realize how long the manuscript would be when I agreed to lend my eyes to the project). I don’t typically read fiction, so you might say this is (ahem) a novel experience for me.

Haimo Li

To finish reading this new book: Beauty and the Brain: The Science of Human Nature in Early America by Rachel E. Walker (University of Chicago Press, 2022)

Adam E. Zielinski

Bring more diversity to both story and ways of telling them.

Sandra McNamara

As I only do my research when time permits and for fun, it is hoped that this year I will be able to put life stories to some of those who signed the “Loyalist Declaration of Dependence” that my articles have focused on. Sometimes I see their names pop up, and try to make note.

Benjamin L. Carp

With my latest book coming out, my New Year’s resolution is to tell as many people as I can about the Great Fire of New York City in 1776—it’s a fascinating mystery that allows us to peek into some interesting corners of the Revolutionary War and the people who lived through it. As a bonus, I’ll also get to talk about the Boston Tea Party, which will have its 250th anniversary at the end of the year. What can I say? I’m interested in the Revolutionary Era’s destructive deeds.

Harlow Giles Unger

1) To contradict and demonstrate the falsities of (and motives behind) history distortions aimed at furthering current religious and political interests—e.g., the United States having been founded as a “Christian nation,” etc.; 2) To demonstrate the centrality of freemasonry and deism as primary political, philosophical and quasi-religious influences in the American Revolution and establishment of the American republic; 3) Help restore Thomas Paine to his rightful place among the most important Founders.

Michael Sheehan

In an ideal world, in 2023, I would love to complete at least two articles for the JAR and begin planning or, minimally, lay out a more solid framework for a book I have been planning for seven years now.

Bruce Ware Allen

Get the podcast up and running.

Don N. Hagist

Compile the masses of data I’ve collected on the individual British soldiers who served in Rhode Island between December 1776 and October 1779.

John A. Ruddiman

I resolve to enjoy as many new articles and reviews as possible—and to tell my students about the questions these historians are asking!

Eric Sterner

I plan to study naval and military strategy, innovation, and adaptation surrounding the American Revolution in greater detail. Several theoretical models of military change exist, but they were derived from later periods in history and might shed additional light on what the American Revolution meant for the world.

Jean C. O’Connor

In 2023, I plan to present my historical fiction novel, The Remarkable Cause: A Novel of James Lovell and the Crucible of the Revolution, a look at the beginnings of the American Revolution from the involvement of a Boston schoolteacher, to bookstores and audiences, to promote interest in that tumultuous time. I will offer lessons to open eyes to the realities of those days in places such as the Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia. And I will pursue the publication of Congress’s Cryptographer, the story of James Lovell’s five years in the Continental Congress.

Dayne Rugh

I hope to continuing researching and writing my biography on Revolutionary War Colonel, John Durkee of Norwich, Connecticut. I also have a number of books to catch up on and articles I’d like to continue writing.

Lars D. H. Hedbor

I plan to get out and visit more of the sites where the events we all study took place. Historical tourism can be a terrific way to let a sense of place really soak in.

Victor J. DiSanto

My resolution is to try and visit more historic sites that are associated with the American Revolution. I am embarrassed to admit that there are many in New York State, my home state, that I have never seen.

Gene Procknow

In 2023, I resolve to expand outside my comfort zone by researching and writing on new topics and offering creative challenges to existing orthodoxy where insightful.

Stephen L. Kling

To try to educate about and increase interest in the American Revolutionary War in the Midwest. A group of us in the US and Spain have started working on a first-class history conference on the war for late 2023 that will appeal to history enthusiasts as well as academics- including things like weapons and textiles in addition to events. Besides eight to ten sessions, there will be a Friday night social event with a feature speaker and a Saturday evening more relaxed social event at the new American Revolutionary War in the West Museum exhibit. We also plan to have a special showing of the House of Thunder documentary with the producer and director which won a 2021 Mid-America Emmy for best historical documentary.

Richard J. Werther

In 2023, I’m going to spend some time exploring Revolutionary War sites. I grew up on the East coast but did not become interested in Revolution history until I moved to Michigan, which has little to offer in that regard, thirty years ago. My first job, when I was still east, was less than a mile from George Washington’s winter headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey. Guess how many times I visited there (hint: it’s less than one). I plan to get back and visit War sites on Long Island, where I grew up, or upstate New York (Ticonderoga, Saratoga, Oriskany, etc.).

Will Monk

Go to Huntington Library. Go to Newberry Library. Go to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Go back to Clements Library. Go to the Massachusetts State Archives. Go back to the British Library. Go to the Public Records Office of North Ireland. Go back to the Kent History and Library Centre. Go back to the National Archives of the United Kingdom. Go to the Bibliotheque Nationale. Go to the Archives Nationales d’Outre Mer. Go to the Archivo Historico Nacional. ad infintum.

Philip D. Weaver

Rather than making annual resolutions, I prefer to set goals for myself. Among these goals for 2023, there are several updates to the 3rd New Jersey story I am expecting to complete. In addition, I plan an important follow-up book on the Plundering of Johnson Hall. I also expect to change things up and finish a pending out-of-the-box article for the JAR. It remains to see if I have set the bar to high or not, but either way, I will continue to share primary sourced stories of individual officers and men who served in the early years of the Revolution.

Mark R. Anderson

Get back in the archives!

Gregory J. W. Urwin

I hope to write Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of my current book project, When Freedom Wore a Red Coat: The British Invasions of Virginia, 1781. I finished writing Chapter 1 last fall. This summer I also hope to squeeze in a visit to the Spencer’s Ordinary battlefield near Williamsburg, for more on-the-ground research.

Jane Strachan

My history Resolution for 2023 is to continue reading and writing about less-known or unknown, yet significant, women of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras. Specifically, I bring to light the many influences on the lives of women—war, politics, social mores, the law, and their families, as well as on their lessons for us today.

Timothy Symington

I am looking forward to the new year. I am hoping to continue doing book reviews for the Journal and reading up on the latest scholarship. I resolve, most of all, to enjoy having my first book published!

Sheilah Vance

My history-related New Year’s Resolution for 2023 is to spend more time doing research for my next book in the majestic Library of Congress Reading Room in Washington, DC, which has a large and unique collection of Revolutionary War-related books, documents, and other ephemera.

Keith Muchowski

I was having lunch with someone a few days before Christmas and we both resolved to take our work to the Next Level in 2023. For me, in the most immediate sense that means getting back to a writing project I’ve kept putting aside to work on other things. In the longer run, I have resolved to visit more historic sites. There is no substitute for going where history was made.

Stuart Hatfield

My resolution is to get through year two of my Ph.D. program. With the “core” classes done I can start working on my fun ones focusing on Colonial America, the Revolution, and even some Civil War classes. I hope this will help generate some good content for the Journal as I can start digging deep.

Shawn David McGhee

My history-related resolution this year is to keep up my reading routine, stay current with the journals I subscribe to, and stay active in the archives! I am equally hopeful that I can publish my dissertation.


  • Thought I’d keep quiet about this question and wait and see if any resolutions might emerge that I might just piggy-back on. There is one repeatedly suggested I like: travel to more Revolutionary America historic sites, which will take a bit of planning since I live near the Rocky Mountains. Thanks!

  • My long-standing goal is to find the missing muster Rolls (1779-1781), for the [British] 84th Regt (Royal Highland Emigrants), 2nd Battalion who served in South Carolina & New York, etc. Earlier ones and those after have been found & available for some time. The Unit was disbanded at Fort Edward, Windsor, Nova Scotia on 10 Oct 1783. Any help will be greatly appreciated. – C.L. (Cal) CRAIG, UE.

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