The Smithsonian Journal of History was an 8 1/2" x 11" scholarly quarterly specializing in illustrated articles. The Journal had its inception in the 1964 meetings of the Association of Curators. A proposal by Walter F. Cannon won financial support in the sum of $30,500 from the Secretary in December 1964. The first issue published was Spring 1966. Although an additional $40,000 was budgeted for the Journal's operation in January 1967, financial and schedule problems resulted in termination of the Journal after publication of the Winter 1968-1969 issue. Each issue was composed of two sections. Articles were contributed by professional historians and were not limited to any particular subject, area of interest, nation, or time period. The average article ran 10,000 words and included 12 illustrations. The "Notes and Queries" section of each issue carried notes of important research programs, museum acquisitions, and exhibits at the Smithsonian and at other historical museums. This section also printed requests for information about important or unusual objects. Before termination, 12 issues of The Smithsonian Journal of History had been published, winning critical acclaim from the scholarly world.
Although officially the responsibility of the Director of the National Museum of History and Technology, administrative decisions were handled by an Editorial Board. Walter F. Cannon served as Editor for the first five issues until his resignation July 14, 1967. Peter C. Welsh served as Editor for the last seven issues. The Editorial Assistant and later Assistant Editor was Elaine Eden Jancourtz. Roger Pineau served as Editorial Consultant. Other members of the original Editorial Board were Silvio A. Bedini, Jacob Kainen, Philip K. Lundeberg, and Peter C. Welsh. When Peter C. Welsh was named Editor, the Editorial Board was composed of John C. Ewers, Melvin H. Jackson, Philip K. Lundeberg, Richard P. Wunder, Roger Pineau, and Elaine Eden Jancourtz. Ellen Tejera replaced Elaine Eden Jancourtz as Assistant Editor by the publication of the Fall 1967 issue. The Board of Advisors was a group of noted historians who served as advisors on selection of manuscripts and related activities. The initial members were Julian Boyd, Hunter Dupree, Anthony Garvan, Louis Jones, Frederic C. Lane, Samuel Eliot Morison, Edgar P. Richardson, Theodore Ropp, Lynn White, Jr., Walter Muir Whitehill, and Louis B. Wright.