Committee Reports 2002
At its January 2002 meeting, the AHA Council accepted—on the recommendation of the Committee on Affiliated Societies—the German Historical Institute’s application for affiliation. During the year the committee recommended two new organizations for affiliations. The first was the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH), a society that encourages research, documentation, preservation, and publication of history concerning the invention, development, and influence of the automobile. Founded in 1969, the SAH foster connections and cooperation through meetings, a membership directory, bimonthly newsletters, and a semi-annual scholarly journal, Automotive History Review.
The second was the Center for History and New Media (CHNM), located at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Since 1994, the Center combines innovative digital media with the latest and best historical scholarship to promote an understanding of the past as well as broad historical literacy. As an online source for a variety of teaching and professional aids, CHNM is a useful resource for history teachers of any level, with links to 1,200 international history departments; an indexed guide to 5,000 history web sites; an annotated guide to 500 U.S. history sites; a comprehensive directory of 2,000 web site in the history of science and technology; and free software tools useful for historians and teachers. At its January 2003 meeting during the annual meeting in Chicago, Council accepted both organizations as the 113th and 114th affiliated societies. (They will, therefore, be included in the list of affiliated societies that will appear in the annual report for 2003.)
A meeting for affiliated societies was convened by the committee at the annual meeting to discuss relations between the AHA and the societies. The attending societies asserted that affiliation with the AHA was beneficial to everyone involved.
James M. McPherson
The transformation (in January 2002) of the Task Force on Graduate Education into a standing committee—the AHA Committee for Graduate Students [CGS]—represented a striking recognition of the fact that graduate students can be more than mere apprentices in the governance of the AHA.
Perhaps the most important task that the CGS accomplished in recent months was to establish direct lines of communication—through e-mail messages and surveys—with graduate student members of the AHA.
In addition, the CGS continued the task force practice of organizing sessions at AHA annual meetings based on suggestions directly received from graduate students who attend the Graduate Student Forum at the preceding annual meeting. CGS also sponsored an unprecedented number of five sessions at the 2003 annual meeting. These included “Careers in History” on the discussion of nonacademic careers and a “Nuts and Bolts” workshop on preparing for and participating in the job market.
Particularly through our liaison, Fiona Galvin, the CGS has energetically collaborated with the AHA’s Committee on Graduate Education (CGE), the body charged with carrying out the first national survey of graduate programs in history since 1959. We also successfully encouraged participation of graduate students in the CGE’s site visits to programs across the country, arguing that graduate students were uniquely qualified to interview and collect anecdotal data from other graduate students.
As key members of the AHA, graduate students need to and will continue to play a central role in shaping the debates and direction of the profession today in ways that will ensure its advance along increasingly equitable lines.
During 2002 the AHA’s Committee on International Historical Activities actively worked with the bureau of the International Congress of Historical Sciences (ICHS, also often referred to, by the abbreviation from the French, as CISH) toward organizing the 20th International Congress to be held July 3–9, 2005, in Sydney, Australia. Dane Kennedy and Arnita Jones participated on behalf of the AHA in the General Assembly of the ICHS held September 2–3, 2002, at Amsterdam and also attended a symposium there on the theme, “Presenting the Nation: Can It Be Done?”
The AHA committee, having invited proposals from members interested in participating as organizers, presenters, or discussants in the congress, forwarded to the bureau of ICHS over 60 panel proposals and 17 nominations for session organizers and discussants.
For the Committee on Minority Historians, 2002 was an especially productive year . We completed the diversity series of pamphlets and began arrangements to have some of the titles published online. We participated in two major sessions—at the annual meetings of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and the Organization of American Historians. The committee not only contributed significantly to the survey of the Committee on Graduate Education, but also conducted its own survey of the minority members of the AHA. The aim of the latter was to determine how the AHA can best serve this particular constituency and to provide data to history departments and other bodies to assist them in their efforts to recruit and retain minority faculty, employees, and students.
At the 2003 annual meeting of the AHA, the committee organized—continuing a tradition of establishing a presence at the annual meetings—a session on the theme, “Increasing the Presence of Minority Graduate Students in the Profession.” Also continuing a practice started at the 2002 annual meeting, the committee organized a mentoring breakfast at the 2003 meeting. At this resoundingly successful gathering, graduate students were able to discuss professional concerns with senior faculty members in an informal and relaxed setting.
The committee discussed at length a statement about recruitment and retention of minority faculty, which had been issued by the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Literature of People of Color in the United States and Canada. To facilitate broader discussion of the document (with a view to issuing a similar statement), the committee is publicizing the MLA committee’s statement.
The work of the committee was facilitated by the tireless efforts of numerous people, but as the outgoing chair, I would like to especially express my thanks to the members of the committee as well as to Noralee Frankel, Arnita Jones, Cliff Jacobs, Peleg Tal, and other AHA staff members.
Concern about the increasing number of historians teaching as part-time or adjunct faculty led to the creation of a permanent Joint OAH-AHA Committee on Part-Time and Adjunct Employment in January 2002, whose membership has consisted primarily of those who are, or who have in the past, taught part-time. The rise in part-time and adjunct employment is a serious, growing issue in the profession. The litany of problems include abysmally low pay, often total lack of benefits (medical coverage is frequently the most pressing need, but the lack of pension funds has serious long range implications), ineligibility for grants or travel money (to help with research that just might make escape possible), poor or no office space or assistance, lack of computers (as technology becomes ever more important), and sometimes no library access.
The problem is complicated by the fact that there are those who prefer to teach part-time so that proposed solutions need to leave this possibility open. This includes retired faculty still engaged with the discipline, those with other full-time employment or family responsibilities, as well as graduate students working to complete their degrees. There are also small departments that can only offer a specialized course with a part-time/adjunct employee. Another aspect of the issue is the numerous institutions dealing with financial cuts by hiring a large number of teachers at very low wages, who then try to survive by piecing together jobs at several institutions. Solutions need to go in two directions. One is to halt and reverse the bleeding of full-time positions. The second is to make life better and fairer for those who do teach part-time. The committee’s recommendations to the OAH and AHA include provisions for a limit on the percentage of part-time faculty in a department, for increased salaries (as a percentage of what is paid to full-time faculty), benefits, office space, etc. Having the recommendations accepted is just the first step. The harder task ahead will be to convince those in control of the purse strings that this is necessary.
The Committee on Women Historians “met” on the web between October 23 and November 4, 2002, with all members participating. Our discussions focused primarily on two issues: (1) the committee’s survey of women members and (2) the status of the pamphlet series, “Women’s and Gender History in Global Perspective.”
The survey was sent to all post-PhD female AHA members last spring, by e-mail; 361 replies were received. Members were asked to comment on whether or not gender had, in their opinion or experience, been a factor in their careers as historians. They were also asked to comment, in an open-ended format, on what factors in particular aided or hindered their advancement in the profession; whether mentoring had played any role in their careers; and on anything else they wanted the committee to know about their experiences as historians. Demographic data (year of terminal degree, type of employment, rank, race/ethnic origin) were also collected. Various members of the committee have been assessing the data since it was received, with the assistance of Cliff Jacobs of the AHA staff. The most significant findings cluster around issues of collegiality and its assessment—which are difficult to document and to correlate with women’s professional advancement. Other findings center on women’s perceptions of ongoing gender discrimination at all ranks of the professoriate.
The committee assessed the current status of the pamphlet series. The AHA has signed a contract with the University of Illinois Press for the publication of the pamphlets in volume form. Nearly all of the contracted pamphlets have been received by the series editor Bonnie Smith and reviewed by the committee. The committee was pleased to see the pamphlets moving toward publication with a major press, and grateful to the AHA staff and to Bonnie Smith for moving the process along.
The committee discussed preparations for the 2004 annual meeting. The committee also discussed its mission statement and the ongoing work of the Task Force on Graduate Education. Virginia Sanchez-Korrol was commended for her service to the committee.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Noralee Frankel of the AHA staff for her spirited, creative, and highly professional work in support of the work of the CWH for the past three years (my tenure as chair).
Upon recommendation by the Professional Division, Council charged the Task Force on Public History to identify ways the Association can address the interests and concerns of public historians as well as ways of deepening an understanding of and appreciation for the activities of public historians within the profession. Our final report, to be submitted to Council at the end of 2003, will include both a substantive discussion of issues and recommendations pursuant to our charge.
Two fundamental assumptions have governed our work to date. First, public history is a responsibility of all historians. Public history is not a subset of history, nor are public historians a subset of historians. Second, public history and public historians are underserved and underregarded by both the AHA and the profession, a situation that needs redress. We also note a widespread interest in and greater engagement with public history by the profession.
The task force has pursued its charge by reviewing the Statement on Standards, identifying possible changes to the annual meeting, consulting with the Committee on Graduate Education, considering public history employment, and discussing collaborations with other history-related organizations. We have also identified the need for advocacy for public history at the state level. And to identify interests, needs, and concerns related to public history and public historians, we conducted two surveys: one of all AHA members and one of public historians. We also conducted open forums at AHA’s 2002 and 2003 annual meetings.
I conclude by acknowledging the creative thinking and hard work of task force members, and the invaluable advice and support provided by AHA staff, especially Arnita Jones and Debbie Ann Doyle.
The TFIP “met” via e-mail as necessary, and at the Chicago annual meeting. Our initial charge was to advise the Council on intellectual property (IP) matters that might require Council action. Only one such matter arose this year, as I will report below, but we have been considering whether we should not attempt a project that might be of considerable use and interest to the membership—a short guide to copyright issues pertaining to historians. While there is by no means universal agreement as to what the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) means, we believe that we can lay out some general parameters. We also propose to explore the possibility of preparing articles on recent developments in intellectual property issues for publication in Perspectives.
The Task Force had a very good discussion (through e-mail) of the efforts begun by Larry Lessig (Stanford Univ. School of Law) to challenge the recent Sonny Bono Term Extension Act, which added 20 years to the life of copyrights. The ostensible rationale for the extension was that the United States needed to conform to the new international standard of 70 years for copyrights (at a time when the U.S. standard was 50 years). The TFIP was unanimous in its view that the Bono Act created bad policy for the work of historians, and recommended to the Council that the AHA join the Association of Research Libraries’ amicus brief supporting the Lessig constitutional challenge to the Bono Act in what has become known as the Eldred v. Ashcroft case. We were subsequently solicited by a group preparing an amicus brief speaking specifically for historians, but because we felt that we should not sign two briefs, we did not recommend going forward with the second. Lessig argued our position to the United States Supreme Court this spring, and the Court will probably hand down its opinion in the late spring of 2003. This may be an extremely important decision, because the Act is being challenged on the grounds that the only constitutional basis for copyright regulation is the promotion of creativity. A decision in favor of the challenge would open the way to further litigation against aspects of the DMCA, and might be extremely important to the scholarly community.
Stanley N. Katz
The AHA Council, meeting in San Francisco in January 2002 endorsed the revision of Article II of the constitution of the Pacific Coast Branch (PCB) to clarify the purposes of the organization, specifically: “The purposes of the organization shall be the advancement of the interests of the American Historical Association, and the promotion of the historical interests of the membership with special emphasis on the United States, western Canada, Mexico, the Pacific Rim, and their inter-relationships.”
At the 2002 annual meeting of the PCB, held in August at Tucson, nearly 150 individuals participated in 37 academic sessions. The program also included two luncheon speakers—one sponsored by the Western Association of Women Historians and another honoring the hundredth anniversary of the PCB—and one banquet address by President Thomas Alexander.
The following prizes were awarded during the year: the Louis Knott Koontz Memorial Award for the most deserving article to appear in the Pacific Historical Review in the volume year 2001 to Evan Ward for his August 2001 article, “The Ghosts of William Walker: Conquest of Land and Water as Central Themes in the History of the Colorado River Delta”; the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize for an outstanding essay by a graduate student to Robert B. Campbell for his article, “Newlands, Old Lands: Native American Labor, Agrarian Ideology and the Progressive-Era State in the Making of the Newlands Reclamation Project, 1902–1926”; the W. Turrentine Jackson Dissertation Award to Jessica B. Teisch (Univ. of California at Berkeley) for her dissertation, “Engineering Progress: Californians and the Making of a Global Economy”; the Norris and Carol Hundley Award to Henry Yu for his book Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2002); the PCB Book Award jointly to Daniel Herman for his book, Hunting and the American Imagination (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001) and to Adel Perry, for the book, On the Edge of Empire (University of Toronto Press, 2001).
Election: By mail ballots cast during the summer 2002, the PCB membership chose Roger L. Nichols (Univ. of Arizona), as president-elect; David Yoo (Claremont McKenna College), Katherine G. Morrissey (Univ. of Arizona), and Albert S. Broussard (Texas A&M Univ.), as members of the Council; and Cheryl A. Koos (California State Univ. at Los Angeles), Michael J. Gonzales (Univ. of San Diego), and Carl Abbott (Portland State Univ.) as members of the Nominating Committee.
Finances: As of December 31, 2002, the PCB held $142,210 in endowment funds for the Pacific Historical Review, the Louis Knott Koontz Award, the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize, the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize, the W. Turrentine Jackson Dissertation Award, and the PCB Reserve Fund. Total assets owned by the Branch as of December 31, 2001, were valued at $176,536. For the fiscal year, July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2002, the income for the Pacific Historical Review (which had a circulation of 1,350 in December 2001) was $103,957, and expenses (including a $3,500 subsidy to the PHR editorial office and a $4,829 royalty payment to the PCB) totaled $69,824.
W. David Baird
The 2002 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association was, thanks to the efficiency of the AHA staff, a smoothly run and very successful event. A wide range of papers and an attendance beyond what we might have expected in light of the events of September 11, 2001, attest to the continued relevance of the AHA to the profession.
The 2002 Program Committee received 358 proposals for presentations at the conference, of which we were able to accept only 157. Proposals came not only from our local colleagues here in the United States, but from Europe, Australasia, and elsewhere. Our theme—“Frontiers”—produced a wonderful diversity of panels, and clearly spoke to the growing interest in regional comparative studies. We received an unusually high number of comparative proposals, and were able therefore to offer many panels designed to draw people from a broader than usual range of regional specialisms.
The topical breakdown of proposals received is as follows:
*Panels that are sponsored by various AHA bodies and thus guaranteed a place on the program. These are included in the figures for the “Accepted” column.
Our experience was an exhilarating and exciting one. The job of program chair is an arduous one, though made considerably easier by the experience and efficiency of the AHA staff.
We owe a tremendous debt to our Program Committee colleagues. We owe our thanks also to Gabrielle Spiegel, vice president of the Research Division, and Wm. Roger Louis, 2001 president, who were generously supportive of our ideas and efforts. We are eternally in the debt of Joe Wright, our extraordinarily gifted graduate assistant, and we are grateful also to the AHA staff, most notably Sharon K. Tune, Debbie Doyle, Vernon Horn, Robert Townsend, and Pillarisetti Sudhir.
The 2003 Program Committee
The 117th annual meeting of the American Historical Association held in Chicago, January 2–5, 2003, was a huge success. The program featured 168 panels that covered virtually every major historical theme and topic, time period, and region of the world. Attendance throughout was excellent, and most of the sessions, including those held on Sunday, drew sizable audiences.
The 2003 Program Committee received only 203 proposals, a considerable drop from the 2002 tally of more than 350 submissions. This noticeable decline in submissions may have stemmed from a variety of reasons such as cyclical fluctuations, the absence of a specific theme for the meeting, and Chicago in January being less attractive than, say, an East or West Coast locale.
Nevertheless, the Program Committee was extremely pleased with the proposals it had to choose from and debated their pros and cons at a meeting held April 19–21, 2002, in Washington, D.C. The following is a breakdown of proposals received and accepted:
Based on my experience of serving on this year’s committee, I have several observations to make that may be worth considering in the future. As the subject distribution above reveals, we need to continue to diversify and enhance the program. We probably should be more proactive in soliciting panel proposals on Africa and the ancient period because they are traditionally underrepresented year after year. Although there were no panels that dealt exclusively with Africa, five panels included coverage of it. I suspect submissions relating to Asia, comparative, Middle East, world, and “other” will continue to increase and take their place alongside the consistently significant presence of American, European, and Latin American panels. The mix of regions will also change from year-to-year as theme-centered programs call for and encourage cross-regional comparisons.
Although several panels—especially those in the categories of “pedagogy” and “other”—were included in the program because they were sponsored submissions, it may be worth noting that they would have found a place even on their own merits.
A wonderful innovation for the 2003 meeting was the addition of six presidential sessions that enriched the program by adding content that may not have otherwise been well represented. Lynn Hunt, the 2002 president, consulted the Program Committee about her choice of topics and panelists and judiciously scheduled the presidential sessions to occupy key time slots on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. These panels were a major highlight of the Chicago meeting. All the presentations were first-rate and attendance at some of them ran into the hundreds.
No Program Committee makes much headway without the heroic efforts of the AHA staff—especially Sharon K. Tune and Debbie Doyle—in facilitating the crucial Washington, D.C. meeting. Thanks are due as well to Lynn Hunt, the AHA Council, the members of the committee and, especially, to Lora Knight (Univ. of Utah), the committee’s graduate student assistant.
Anand A. Yang