It is with a heavy heart that we report that our friend and former colleague Valerie Millholland has passed away. Valerie retired in 2014 after thirty years of outstanding work at the Press, most of those as Senior Editor. She built our distinguished Latin American Studies list practically from scratch and was honored at her retirement with the Distinguished Service Award from the Conference on Latin American History at AHA, a prize generally reserved for the most important senior faculty in the field. She was an invaluable colleague and a supportive friend to many of us at the Press. She will be greatly missed.
We have been sharing our memories of Valerie here in the office and on social media. We invite you to do the same, in the comments section below.
We reprint here part of the announcement we posted when Valerie retired:
Senior Editor Valerie Millholland will retire on January 10, 2014 after a thirty year career with Duke University Press.
Millholland will be honored for her contributions to the field of Latin American history at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Historical Association. The Conference on Latin American History has awarded Millholland the 2013 Distinguished Service Award, which will be presented at a luncheon on January 3, 2014. The selection committee, Barbara Weinstein, John Tutino, and Rebecca Scott, had this praise for Millholland: “Any historian of Latin America who has ordered books for a course in the last two decades knows just how large Duke University Press looms in our field. Aside from supporting first-book authors and sharing her wisdom with more senior colleagues, Valerie has sought to make translated works by historians in Latin America available to a North American academic audience. She has conducted workshops on academic publishing at a variety of universities in the US and abroad. And she has also been instrumental in the creation of the Duke series of ‘country readers’ that has been indispensable for scholars in the Latin American field.”
According to Duke University Press Editorial Director Ken Wissoker, “very few editors have the impact on the academy that Valerie Millholland has had. When she took on the Latin American studies list the area was the poster child for the death of the monograph. Valerie showed that with intelligence and acumen the field could not only survive but thrive. She built a list based in a new form of transnational interdisciplinary work, including scholars from Latin America as well as those doing the best scholarship here.”
Millholland came to the Press in 1983 to work under director Dick Rowson. She assisted him in acquiring titles in political science and in 1989 the first title she acquired herself was published: Hidden Illness in the White House by Kenneth R. Crispell and Carlos Gomez. As an editor, she continued to acquire titles in political science and history until the mid-1990s, when she was given the opportunity to publish Ethnicity, Markets, and Migration in the Andes, a collection edited by Brooke Larson, Olivia Harris, and Enrique Tandeter. Although she knew nothing about Latin America and didn’t speak Spanish, she took it on. Under her guidance, the Press rose to prominence as one of the top publishers in Latin American Studies. She has acquired nearly 600 books including dozens of award-winners.
Millholland herself says she is most proud of launching The Latin America Readers series. After the Press published The Peru Reader in 1995 to surprising success, she realized that there was a market among students and travelers for a comprehensive look at a country’s history, politics, and culture. She worked with scholars to create The Brazil Reader, The Argentina Reader, and nine other readers, with many still under contract and in production. The Mexico Reader is one of Duke University Press’s top sellers of all time. In 2009 the Press launched The World Readers, an expansion of the series outside Latin America, also the brainchild of Millholland. City Readers are also being prepared for Latin America and it is hoped the Rio de Janeiro Reader will be ready in time for the Olympics in 2016.
Millholland says the best part of her job is her deep relationships with authors. They clearly consider her a friend and mentor.
Millholland’s colleagues at Duke University Press have been thanking her for her many years of service and important contributions. Director Steve Cohn says, “For thirty years Valerie has been a wonderful colleague for me and for all of us at the Press. It has been a real pleasure to watch her grow with the Press.” Ken Wissoker adds, “Editors at many presses have tried to follow Valerie’s model and will continue to do so long after her well-earned retirement. It’s truly a brilliant career.”