The President's Preface 2000
As the annual report for the year 2000 makes clear, the American Historical Association enters the 21st century in excellent health. Thanks to the enlightened leadership of my predecessors as president, Joseph Miller and Robert Darnton, the Association has successfully weathered a number of recent crises. It enters the year 2001 with a satisfactory budget surplus and a dedicated and able staff in its Washington headquarters, led by Executive Director Arnita Jones. The 2000 annual meeting was a great success. Those who attended uniformly praised the meeting program for the wide range and high quality of its sessions.
I urge AHA members to take the time to peruse the various sections of the annual report, especially the reports of the executive director; the Research, Teaching, and Professional Divisions; and the editor of the American Historical Review. Taken together, these make clear the remarkable variety of activities in which the Association is engaged.
Of course, our primary purpose is to promote the dissemination of historical understanding through scholarship, teaching, and public presentation. In the continuing improvement of the AHR under editor Michael Grossberg, the award of prizes for works of scholarly distinction, and the organization of sessions at the annual meeting, the Association actively encouraged historical scholarship. The introduction of the electronic version of the AHR, linked through the History Cooperative to other online history journals, and the new Gutenberg-e prizes reflect our effort to take advantage of the new media to make historical research and writing even more widely available than in the past.
Under the leadership of Leon Fink, whose term as vice president for the Teaching Division has now come to a close, the Association made strong efforts to create links with teachers of history in secondary schools. The Research Division has dealt with numerous issues of concern to all historians, from the implications of online publication for traditional notions of copyright to ensuring access to government records. The Professional Division has heard complaints concerning violations of professional standards, seeking to ensure that institutions and individuals adhere to the "best practices" outlined in AHA policy statements. The Association also launched a major study of the current state and future prospects of graduate training in history. Our thanks are extended to Colin Palmer and Thomas Bender, who are directing this investigation. This year, the AHA has also begun to address the alarming proliferation of part-time and adjunct employment among historians. The establishment of a permanent AHA committee to represent the interests of adjuncts and recommend policies to alleviate their plight ensures that this issue will remain a concern of the Association in the future.
During the past decade, initiatives that come under the rubric of "advocacy" have occupied a more and more central role in AHA activities. Issues like continued funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and government policies regarding the preservation and declassification of documents are of concern to all historians. In conjunction with the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, the National Humanities Alliance, and other umbrella organizations, the AHA has worked to promote federal policies that facilitate the production and dissemination of historical scholarship.
It has been a signal honor to serve as the Association's president during the year 2000. I am certain that in 2001, under the presidency of Wm. Roger Louis, the AHA, with more than 17,000 members, will continue to be recognized as the voice of the historical profession.
Eric Foner (Columbia Univ.) was president of the AHA for 2000.