From the AHA Activities column in the March 2001 Perspectives

AHA Council Decisions, January 2001

AHA Staff, March 2001

1. Approved the minutes of the May 6–7, 2000, Council meeting.

2. Approved applications for affiliation with the AHA from the American Association for History and Computing, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the North American Society for Sport History, and the Urban History Association.

3. Approved recommendations from the Committee on Committees for new committee appointments. See this issue of Perspectives or AHA's web site.

4. Created an Ad Hoc Committee on Public History.

5. Approved the Professional Division's modification to the "Guidelines on Hiring Process" to read (words in bold indicate the additions):

3. Interviews should proceed in a manner that respects the professional and personal integrity of candidates and interviewers. Whenever possible, interviewing committees should include male and female representation.

and:

Beginning with the 2000 annual meeting, the AHA... which can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.theaha.org/annual/jobregister. See "Interviews for Non-Job Register Facilities" for guidelines for those conducting interviews outside of designated Job Register facilities.

6. Endorsed the following "Standards for Museum Exhibits Dealing with Historical Subjects" developed by the Society for History in the Federal Government.

Standards for Museum Exhibits Dealing with Historical Subjects

Adopted by the Society for History in the Federal Government Executive Council, 8 January 1997, the National Council on Public History Executive Council, 30 March 2000, and the Organization of American Historian's Executive Council, 2 April 2000.

In a democracy, a knowledge of history forms the context in which citizens make informed decisions. Historical knowledge also provides personal, family, and community links to the past. Historical understandings of other societies assists individuals in identifying commonalities in the human condition and in negotiating the differences that exist in our increasingly pluralistic world.

Museum exhibits play an important role in the transmission of historical knowledge. They are viewed by citizens of diverse ages, interests, and backgrounds, often in family groups. They sometimes celebrate common events, occasionally memorialize tragedies or injustices, and contain an interpretive element, even if it is not readily apparent. The process of selecting themes, photographs, objects, documents, and other components to be included in an exhibit implies interpretive judgments about cause and effect, perspective, significance, and meaning.

Historical exhibits may encourage the informed discussion of their content and the broader issues of historical significance they raise. Attempts to suppress exhibits or to impose an uncritical point of view, however widely shared, are inimical to open and rational discussion.

In aiming to achieve exhibit goals, historians, museum curators, administrators, and members of museum boards should approach their task mindful of their public trust. To discharge their duties appropriately, they should observe the following standards:

1. Exhibits should be founded on scholarship, marked by intellectual integrity, and subjected to rigorous peer review. Evidence considered in preparing the exhibit may include objects, written documentation, oral histories, images, works of art, music, and folklore.

2. At the outset of the exhibit process, museums should identify stakeholders in any exhibit and may wish to involve their representatives in the planning process.

3. Museums and other institutions funded with public monies should be keenly aware of the diversity within communities and constituencies that they serve.

4. When an exhibit addresses a controversial subject, it should acknowledge the existence of competing points of view. The public should be able to see that history is a changing process of interpretation and reinterpretation formed through gathering and reviewing evidence, drawing conclusions, and presenting the conclusions in text or exhibit format.

5. Museum administrators should defend exhibits produced according to these standards.

Council expressed reservations about standard 2, and endorsed it only with the understanding that identifying the views of all stakeholders did not confer an obligation to present all views. Council also noted the difficulty in defining what is and is not controversial.

7. Approved Research Division's recommendation for no action on the Tasini v. New York Times case at this time.

8. Created an Ad Hoc Task Force on Intellectual Property Issues. Council will consult with other divisions for suggested members and modalities.

9. Approved the Research Division's recommendation that the George L. Mosse and John E. Fagg book prizes be limited to English-only submissions.

10. Approved the Professional Division's recommendation that the findings in a complaint be made public. (See page 1.)

11. Recommended reappointment of two members to the Board of Trustees (which oversees AHA's investments). These are Barbara H. Chacour, of Brean Murray, Foster Securities Inc. and Fay Gambee, of United States Trust Company. (At the January 6, 2001 business meeting, members accepted the recommendation.)

12. Endorsed the Part-time and Adjunct Employment Committee's resolution for part-time, adjunct, and graduate student faculty (for text of resolution click here).

13. Approved the Mission Statement of the Task Force on Graduate Education:

The Task Force meets twice yearly by conference call. Once during the chair's three-year term, the committee will meet in Washington, D.C. Members serve a three-year term. The Task Force is comprised of: the graduate student Council representative as chair [currently Lillian Guerra], the graduate student representative of the Committee on Women Historians [currently Susan Pearson] and the graduate student representative of the Committee on Minority Historians [currently Theresa Mah], and a representative from the Professional Division [currently Allen Isaacman]. The Committee on Committees appoints two at-large graduate student members [currently, Alison Pion and Ernest Simmons].

Objectives

1. To serve as a point of contact for graduate student members so that they may be empowered to articulate their concerns and interests to the larger membership and governing bodies of the AHA.

2. To advocate for the inclusion of graduate students as vital participants in debates that concern the course of the profession and the practice of history.

3. To support the rights of graduate student teachers who seek to improve the circumstances of their work environment at their respective institutions.

4. To work with other committees and divisions of the AHA in order to facilitate their understanding of the changing needs of graduate students and to help them carry out any programs they may develop that directly or indirectly affect graduate education.

Responsibilities

1. Organization of AHA panel sessions on topics of immediate concern to graduate students.

2. Solicitation of articles for Perspectives on topics of immediate concern to graduate students.

3. Publication of an annual letter of introduction to the graduate student membership via electronic mail that promotes ongoing dialogue by inviting students to respond with their concerns and feedback.

4. Annual sponsorship of the Graduate Student Forum at the AHA annual meeting.

5. Presentation of concerns collected at the Graduate Student Forum to the Council and divisions of the AHA.

6. Sponsor Graduate Student Reception at the AHA annual meeting.

7. Recommendation of graduate student candidates to the Committee on Committees.

14. Approved the Mission Statement of the Committee on Minority Historians:

Committee on Minority Historians Mission Statement

A. Members: Gerald Surh (chair), Theresa Mah, Mrinalini Sinha, Philip Deloria, Kevin Gaines, Gloria Miranda, Stephanie Shaw, and Arnita A. Jones (ex officio).

B. Organization of the Committee—Committee will meet once a year in Washington and once by teleconference with CMH members serving a minimum of three years. New members will be added on a staggered yearly basis.

C. Objectives:

1. To advocate for a more inclusive profession by representing the interest and concerns of minority historians.

2. To foster an inclusive scholarship that challenges and transforms the practice of history, both substantively and methodologically.

3. To work with other committees within the Association and to support the Association's outreach to public history organizations and K–12 teachers.

D. Activities:

1. Pamphlet Series: Diversity within America

2. CMH suggests names of historians to the AHA Committee on Committees.

3. Plans for minority historians reception at the AHA annual meeting and organizes session(s) at the annual meeting.

4. The committee will continue to develop other projects that promote its objectives.

15. Approved the change in language on the annual meeting site policy to read (bolded words are the new additions):

It is the policy of the American Historical Association not to hold its annual meetings in locations where its members reasonably believe they would be subject to discrimination on the basis of age, gender, marital status, national origin, physical disability, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Reasonable belief of such discrimination may be based on discriminatory legislation, the absence of appropriate state or city laws, actions by public officials, or private actions, whether individual or corporate, for which there is inadequate public response. The Association will implement this policy in its negotiations for annual meeting sites.

16. Confirmed the composition of the expanded Executive Committee for 2001: Wm. Roger Louis, Eric Foner, Lynn Hunt, William A. Weber, Gabrielle Spiegel, and Barbara D. Metcalf with Arnita A. Jones serving as ex officio.

17. Confirmed the composition of the Finance Committee for 2001: Wm. Roger Louis, Eric Foner, Lynn Hunt, Barbara D. Metcalf, and David Blight with Arnita A. Jones, Michael Grossberg, and Randy B. Norell serving as ex officio members.