Footnote: A Literary Journal of History

Footnote: A Literary Journal of History

About Footnote: A Literary Journal of History

Footnote is our annual literary publication dedicated to historical and contemporary views on history. It contains poetry, images, fiction, and nonfiction by various authors, both contemporary and historical, about any topic of history. We are excited by pieces that give an author’s intimate or emotional take on historical places, people, events, or ideas.

We are looking for pieces that have heart, curiosity, purpose, and bravery. We want to be moved, and we want to learn. From our accepted submissions for each year, we take each piece and find its place in the whole, creating a conceptual feel from cover to cover that digs deeper than just chronological order. We couple those submissions with public domain pieces that comment on the same topics, so readers get to see modern perspectives on what is old, juxtaposed with old perspectives on what was then considered modern. Alongside that, we feature photographs, maps, illustrations, interactive QR codes, footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, and supplemental material, so you can learn more about each topic.

There is no set theme per issue. We collect and compile a conceptual arc based on the pieces we receive and the topics they cover. This means that each issue is completely fresh, has a different feel and atmosphere from start to finish, and could cover any topic of history in the known world. We’re not just here to entertain; we’re here to educate. It is our hope that you will learn and get curious and go do some research ... but rest assured that if you’re just here for the good writing, our highly selective submission and editing process will give you that, too.

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Footnote Transparency, Current Status, Updates, Payment, Process, & FAQ

Current Status for Already-Accepted Authors

MAR 29: We are running behind on our publication schedule for issues #4 and #5, but #6 is on track. If anyone in #4, #5, or #6 has questions, please send a message through Submittable.

If you are in #4, we are in the editing and layout phase, and we sent out an update via Submittable on MAR 28 to gather any final edits and materials before the layout process is underway. Many Submittable messages go to spam, so please keep your eye on your Submittable account, and please turn your requested material in by APR 3. We will send out reminders on APR 3 if we do not hear back. #4 is slated for a late-spring release.

If you are in #5, we will begin the layout process by the end of April. Please keep your eye on your Submittable messages, as an update will be coming around soon to talk about the next phases of the editing process. We are behind on deciding the Charter Oak Award winners for #5, but we will have them announced very soon. #5 is slated for a summer release.

If you are in #6, we just wrapped up reading all of the submissions for this issue, and it is on track. The 2020 Charter Oak Awards for #6 will be announced soon, and #6 is slated for a late-fall release. We will reach out to #6 authors to begin the editing process as soon as we are done laying out #5, probably around late-spring/early-summer.


Current Status for Interested Authors

MAR 29: Submissions for issue #7 and the 2021 Charter Oak Awards will open in April and remain open through December. Awards will be announced and the issue will be released in spring 2021. Submit to Footnote here.


Acceptance Rate & Current Interests

MAR 29: We currently average around 500 submissions per issue and accept about 40 pieces total per issue (8% average acceptance rate per issue). Issue #6 (our previous 2019 submission period) received 491 submissions and accepted 40 pieces (8.15% total acceptance rate). Of those 40 pieces, 4 pieces were creative nonfiction (10%), 9 pieces were fiction (22.5%), 5 pieces were hybrid or cross-genre (12.5%), 19 pieces were poetry (47.5%), 1 piece was a play script (2.5%), and 2 pieces were straight nonfiction (5%). There was 1 Featured Writer selected.

We have received a lot of American Civil War and World War II pieces lately, so we are not currently as interested in those subjects (though they will still be read and considered fully). We have a hard time with problematic POVs that are from Confederate or Nazi quote-unquote protagonists, so if you are sending in something meant to make us feel empathy for racists, it had better have some mighty fine writing and have a very finely chiseled point. We are generally rather turned off by Stockholm Syndrome stories where captives, enslaved people, and prisoners of war fall in love with their captors, masters, or guards. We would currently love to see more American Indian and Asian history pieces, told from Own Voices.


Submission Process

We accept Footnote submissions through Submittable only, generally year-round, but we have to close the portal sometimes if we get too far behind in our reading. If the portal is closed when you try to submit, please come back the following month. We currently have three history readers for the first round, and one history reader for the second round. If we know right away that we love a piece unanimously, we will accept it; if we know right away that a piece is not for us, we will decline it. Most pieces, however, may hover in purgatory while we collect and consider pieces, until we can see what we have and what we need more of, as we get closer to completion of a reading period. Response times can take anywhere from a couple days to a year, with most response times occurring within 3 months.

If your work is accepted, we will contact you through Submittable messages. Some Submittable messages may get caught in your spam filters or folders, so please check your spam regularly or make sure you are receiving messages from us via your Submittable account. We try (give or take) to send out quarterly updates for those whose work has been accepted, so you know where we are throughout the process. This is an annual journal (printed once per year from all the pieces that were accepted over the previous year), so it can seem like a lengthy process, especially if your work was accepted early in the reading period, and you have to wait through the whole rest of it. We ask for your patience. When it is time for layout of the issue, you will have a chance to make edits, update bios, list acknowledgments, and provide supplemental material. You will get to see the initial draft document of your work before it is laid out, and then you will get to see the final layout of your piece as it will look in print format, before the book goes to print, and you will have to okay your work and edits at both steps.

If your work is declined, please feel free to try us again with something else. We have to make tough choices during the reading process, and we have to cut many wonderful pieces for many reasons, not the least of which are space, too much of the same material per issue, or length of pieces. We invite you to try again with something new, but we do ask that you please not resubmit the declined work a second time, unless substantial edits have been made or unless an editor specifically asks you to do so. The same readers/editors read for every issue.


Payment Process

All royalties are issued on the last day of the month following the month of publication.

Images for public use for Footnote

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About the Charter Oak Award for Best Historical

Aligned with each issue, we feature the annual Charter Oak Award for Best Historical. Of all the pieces submitted each year, an external judge selects a winner and top finalists. The Charter Oak Award winner receives a $100 honorarium, publication on Alternating Current Press’ website, publication on The Coil, a printed certificate, and our virtual medallion imprint for use on the author’s websites and published books. Second and third place winners receive a unique gift each from a sponsor, publication on Alternating Current Press’ website, and printed certificates. The Top-12 winners and finalists all receive publication on The Coil, as well. Read past Charter Oak finalists and winners here.

2017 Charter Oak Award Winners for Best Historical

1st Place: “Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven & the Fountain” by Stacey Balkun
2nd Place: “Red Cross” by Kierstin Bridger
3rd Place: “Ancestors” by Laura Potts
4th Place: “Sheets” by Cynthia Anderson
5th Place: “1955” by Stacey Balkun
Finalist: “Were You There?” by Sue Blaustein
Finalist: “radium girls” by Toby Buckley
Finalist: “Āfa-Bat” by Toby Buckley
Finalist: “Learned in the Old Ways” by Jon Chaiim McConnell
Finalist: “Blindfold” by Joyce Schmid
Finalist: “The Ballad of Luella and the Tame Parrot” by Chavonn Williams Shen
Finalist: “By you that made me” by Michelle Vider

2016 Charter Oak Award Winners for Best Historical

1st Place: “Michigan Sugar Beet Harvest, 1944” by Mary Buchinger
2nd Place: “Your Bonnet” by Raymond Luczak
3rd Place: “Salt” by Holly M. Wendt
4th Place: “The Search for John Doe No. 2” by Rodney Wilhite
5th Place: “The Death & Birth of Jesse James on April 3, 1882” by GennaRose Nethercott
Finalist: “I Meet Geronimo” by Charles Bane, Jr.
Finalist: “Lodger in the Ripper’s Room” by John Paul Davies
Finalist: “Ernest Hemingway and Hugh Casey, the Artist and the Ballplayer” by Alan Catlin
Finalist: “That the true owner may have it again” by Holly M. Wendt
Finalist: “Out of the dust, light and power” by Yasmin Khan Murgai
Finalist: “Queen of the Mist” by Cynthia Anderson
Finalist: “Emerald Beauties” by Jon Sindell

2015 Charter Oak Award Winners for Best Historical

1st Place: “My Father Tells Us about Leaving Vilnius” by Lyn Lifshin
2nd Place: “The Romanov Family Portrait” by Christina Elaine Collins
3rd Place: “Eva” by Elizabeth Laura Woollett
4th Place: “Titanic” by Sean Brendan-Brown
5th Place: “Lynchable Offenses in Alabama, 1889–1920” by Jesseca Cornelson
Finalist: “The Dictionary” by Claudia Serea
Finalist: “The Diabolical Voodoo Experiments of Harry Smith, Folk Music Anthologist” by Ed Hamilton
Finalist: “Gorsas’ Guillotine: A Nonfiction Narrative of Wordsworth and Carlyle” by James O’Brien
Finalist: “The Ballad of Augustin Lefavre” by R. Joseph Capet
Finalist: “No Pasarán!” by Luther Jett
Finalist: “Ode to the Couches of the 1950s” Brian Le Lay
Finalist: “Strathcona Park” by Pearl Pirie