The first thing people tend to comment on when hearing of my new position is that I am a woman. Now, the scholarly editing field is fairly advanced in terms of gender parity; there are many projects headed by and staffed by women. But for some reason, a female editor in chief of George Washington’s papers surprises people. I take pleasure in telling them that I am not the first. I was preceded by the very fine scholar and editor, Dorothy Twohig, who, as managing editor, was with the Papers beginning in 1969, first under Donald Jackson and then Bill Abbot.
“Why is this nation like this? These structures, these institutions—how did we get here?” These are questions that Jennifer E. Steenshorne wants to address in her new position as director and editor in chief of The Washington Papers, a role she assumed in January 2018. “There’s this sort of sense that the nation emerged fully formed, but it didn’t,” she explains. “There was a process of becoming.” Some insight can be found, of course, through examining the papers of George Washington and his family. But for Steenshorne, these questions of “becoming” guide more than just historical inquiry.