This journal was founded seventy-four years ago with the ambition of launching a “new” architectural history and expanding the scope of the discipline. While the readership expanded in the next three decades, the confines of the field became increasingly narrow in the 1950s and 1960s. This was the subject of John Maass’s 1969 article that demonstrated the near absence of “non-Western” and “vernacular” topics in JSAH. This was followed a year later by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy’s acerbic criticism of the journal for promoting disciplinary obsolescence. Despite these consecutive depth charges that shattered SAH’s carapace of disciplinary ecumenism, both the society and the journal sailed seemingly untroubled into the next millennium.
As for inclusion of “non-Western” content, changes were slow but steady. In the decade following Maass’s critique, two articles on Japanese architecture, one article on house types in Teotihuacán, an introduction to African architecture, and two articles on Burmese town planning were published. When James O’Gorman took on the editorship with the March 1974 issue, he professed the journal’s inability to publish “nontraditional” material unless he received manuscript submissions on such topics, but affirmed: “As the mirror of scholarship in architectural history it is ready to reflect the reassessment of the profession and its methods currently under way.” The situation improved significantly in the 1980s with at least twelve articles that could be categorized as “non-Western” by scholars who would become stalwarts in their fields. During these intervening years the readership appeared to be bickering over the ascendancy of Western European versus American (meaning U.S.) topics in the journal, so much so that Tod Marder in his concluding editorial in the March 1990 issue noted with relief that with “global awareness” this quarrel or “creative tension,” as he put it, has “subsided.”