If you have been following along in The Courier over the past few months you know that I have proposed a change in the NWTA publications program -- make the Courier a bimonthly publication and create a new, quarterly publication called The SPY. Well, thanks to the approval of the NWTA board of directors at the November meeting, you should have received the former (via first-class mail) a few weeks ago, and this is would be the debut of the latter.
But let's back up a bit.
Way back in the September issue of The Courier I listed all of the past editors of NWTA publications. To my great horror it was immediately brought to my attention that I had missed one very important name on the list -- that of William Burke. Bill was editor of The Courier from 1980 to 1981. He didn't list himself as editor in these issues, which is how I missed him in the first place. In looking through my Courier archives, I must say that the issues produced while Bill was editor were some of the best and I will plan on re-running some of his insightful articles from time to time. Whether you loved the man or hated him (and there are folks in both camps) you have to admire -- or at the very least recognize -- the numerous contributions that Bill made to our hobby. I don't think ANYONE can claim to have expended as much of their time and energy as Bill Burke did and his tireless efforts helped to shape the NWTA as we know it today.
Among Bill's many contributions to our hobby was the creation of the original SPY. Back in the early 1980s while he was publications editor, Bill saw a need in the NWTA for a quarterly publication of a more scholarly nature -- one that could accommodate longer, more in-depth articles complete with footnotes and sources. Bill filled this need by creating The SPY. Unfortunately, when Bill "retired" as publications editor, The SPY foundered, and only four or five issues were ever published -- including the now-legendary "Singing Spy." Even though the NWTA board of directors budgeted for continuation of The SPY, no one stepped forward to pick up on the project and The SPY soon fell by the wayside.
Today, the original NWTA SPY is only remembered by the few of us who have been in the hobby for almost two decades (or those who have managed to score a well-worn, second-hand edition or a faded photocopy somewhere along the way).
I was fortunate enough to have a brief conversation with Bill about resurrecting The Spy just before his death. Bill was very supportive of the idea, but at the time I knew I did not have the time to do both a monthly, 12-page Courier and a quarterly SPY. It took me a while to figure out how how to accomplish churning out two publications, and I finally decided to revise the NWTA publications schedule to allow time for putting together a second, quarterly publication.
So, here it is Ñ the newly resurrected SPY. The name derives from a popular 18th-century publicationl; The London Spy, and Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755) defines the word "spy" thus: "To discover by close examination."
That seems appropriate enough, as the goal of this publication is to provide a vehicle for the distribution of news, information and documentation to the hobby at large. Hopefully, you will "discover" something new and interesting with each edition and I hope you will feel encouraged to share any new information you may have uncovered through these pages as well.
I know there are a lot of you out there engaged in various research projects -- how about sharing? Some of you are even working on books or articles destined for some of the nationally-know historical publications. I am certainly not interested in "scooping" your project, but a brief update, interesting tid-bit or "sneak preview" of your project would be appreciated by all.
I hope the new publications schedule meets with your approval and I trust will you enjoy the new SPY. You'll find some of the regular features from The Courier have moved over into this venue, plus you will find some new features, plus a wide variety of articles and information I have been collecting for the past few months. So dive right in and let me know what you think!