By Gail Campbell
The retirement of Beckey Daniel at the end of this month [ed. note: Today is Beckey’s last day at Acadiensis] marks the end of an era in the history of Acadiensis. For nearly forty years, Beckey has been the voice of Acadiensis at the other end of the phone. For many readers and contributors, hers was the name most closely associated with the operations of the journal.
Phillip Buckner, the longstanding founding editor of Acadiensis, credits Beckey with stabilizing the administration of the journal and establishing the routines that helped give the journal its formidable reputation. His successor David Frank agrees that she provided the essential continuity as departmental members rotated in and out of the editorship. For more than two decades Beckey and whoever was then serving as editor were the two people who made up the journal’s “editorial team”, occasionally with the aid of a reviews editor, and, eventually, a French-language editor.
Between 1971, when Acadiensis was established, and 1979 when Beckey arrived at Campus House, five secretaries came and went. The secretary then being in the gift of the History Department, which, with 18 members at its peak, had three secretaries, Beckey was also responsible for serving the four members of the Department whose offices were located in Campus House. She recalls her arrival at Campus House in the company of the Department’s senior secretary, who informed her that Phil Buckner was away, but had left instructions that nothing on his desk was to be touched. This may have made Beckey a little apprehensive, but it also amused her, which perhaps prepared the way for her long and happy working relationship with Phil.
Beckey, who typed each and every manuscript that was submitted to the printers, was one of the first secretaries on the university campus to make use of the first generation of Apple computers in the early 1980s, in order to meet the requirements of our printshop. Moreover, when Phil convinced the board to establish Acadiensis Press in 1980, this added to Beckey’s already full-time workload, as well as his own. When the printers for the Press demanded camera-ready copy, which led to the purchase of a desktop publishing programme, Phil initially hired an assistant to prepare the manuscripts, but eventually Beckey mastered that programme, thereby enabling her to take on yet another major responsibility. Meanwhile, for many years Beckey managed the increasingly complex operations at Campus House without the benefit of a xerox machine on the premises. And, after the arrival of the internet, Campus House was one of the last buildings on the campus to be connected to the university network.
When I was coerced into becoming treasurer of the journal even before I had a permanent job, I was assured that Beckey kept an additional set of books that I could always rely on for detailed information when needed. Every quote, every invoice, every bill, and every cheque passed across the desk of this very efficient bookkeeper. Beckey managed the subscription lists for the journal, the book sales, promotions and distribution agreements for the Press, and the shipping of large quantities of both books and journals. She also managed the receipt and circulation of books for our extensive review essays. She was fundamental to the completion of SSHRCC applications and to making all arrangements for advertisements, conferences, workshops, and board meetings. The significance of her day-to-day contributions to the success of Acadiensis and the Press cannot be overestimated. They have been absolutely essential.
When I took over as editor in the 1990s, and there were still just the two of us in the office, I depended on Beckey to keep track of the manuscripts, evaluations and all other correspondence that came and went. True, by that time, I was typing my own letters, but those drafts were completed and sent out by Beckey, with copies placed in the appropriate files. She not only reminded me when evaluations were late and contributors were becoming restless, but also dealt with the printers and other service people. Beckey was the face and voice of Acadiensis, not only for subscribers, but also for scholars submitting or inquiring about manuscripts or otherwise seeking advice and information. And, as someone once told Phil, “when phoning Beckey you felt that nothing was too much trouble and that Acadiensis really cared about you”. During these very active years, when occasional assistants were also hired, she was formally recognized as the office manager for the journal and press.
In other words, the operation would not have survived without Beckey’s continual presence and superb support. In recent years she may have been a little bored, as more and more of her most significant and interesting functions have been taken over by others. But that does not in any way diminish our great debt to her.
Gail Campbell is Professor Emerita in the Department of History at UNB and served as the Editor of Acadiensis from 1990-91 and 1994-97.