Generations of Women’s History at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC
Leora Auslander and Debbie Ann Doyle, November 2013
A series of sessions at the 128th annual meeting in Washington DC will look back at the achievements of earlier generations of women historians and initiate a cross-generational conversation about both the state of the field of gender history and the status of women in the discipline. The sessions will help us assess where we are, how far we have come, what remains to be done, and the future of women's and gender history. We will start with breakfast very early on Saturday, continue through the day, and conclude our discussions with another session on Sunday morning. All are warmly and cordially invited to attend all, several, or only one of these sessions as your schedule allows.
The ribbon of sessions on this theme will open with the annual Breakfast Meeting of the AHA Committee on Women Historians (CWH). Running from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 4, 2014 in the Marriott's Thurgood Marshall Ballroom West, this breakfast provides an exciting and unique opportunity to meet scholars across generations working in all fields. We warmly invite women historians and anyone with an interest in gender history to this year's breakfast.CWH chair Leora Auslander (Univ. of Chicago) will preside over the meeting. The breakfast is cosponsored by the Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH).
Rebecca J. Scott (Univ. of Michigan), our invited speaker, will deliver an address to the gathering entitled Three Women: How Might One Generation Speak to Another . . . And What Will Be Heard?
The talk will look at the lives of three late 18th- and early 19th-century women-Sanitte, Adélaide Métayer/Durand, and Eulalie Oliveau-who were victims of enslavement or attempted enslavement in the Gulf South. It will also reflect on the narrative device of "three women's lives," used by Anne Scott in her 1979 piece "Self-Portraits: Three Women," and again by Natalie Zemon Davis in 1995 in the book Women on the Margins.
Continental breakfast is open to all, but tickets must be purchased when registering for the meeting, or by calling 508-743-0510 to add tickets to an existing registration. Prepaid tickets will be distributed with the meeting badge at the registration counters. A limited number of tickets ($35 members, $45 nonmembers, $15 student members, and $30 student nonmembers) may be available at the meeting. AHA members may bring a student nonmember to the breakfast at the student member rate. Contact the AHA for details.
The breakfast will be immediately followed by a session from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. celebrating the life of the late Gerda Lerner in the Marriott's Thurgood Marshall Ballroom North. Entitled "Activism, Archives, and Representation in Women's History: A Reflection on the Influence of Gerda Lerner in American History," it will focus on Lerner's influence on the fields of fields of American, women's, and African-American history. It will, in the words of the organizer, remind us "why it remains incumbent upon historians to continue to be attentive to how our historical narratives silence certain voices and promote certain truths as more convenient than others."
Those who wish to continue that conversation more informally will have the opportunity to do so by joining in the brainstorming session sponsored by The CWH at 11:00 a.m. The committee cordially invites all interested AHA members to join us from 11:00 a.m.to 12:00 p.m. in the Marriott's Marriott Balcony B. In a conversation started two years ago, colleagues raised a number of issues of concern. Although many gender inequities in our profession appear to have been remedied and the history of women, gender, and sexuality established in most departments, it is clear that balancing "work" and "life" remains difficult and harassment continues to be a problem. The paucity of jobs and transformations in higher education pose further challenges. In the face of both improvements and continued and new difficulties, what are the urgent tasks for the CWH? These are some of the issues that can be discussed at the brainstorming session.
After a pause for lunch, we will have the possibility of approaching these questions from another angle, when, at 2:30 p.m., the CWH will sponsor "Generations of Women's History," a roundtable chaired by Leora Auslander. The session will take place in the Marriott's Thurgood Marshall Ballroom West. Speakers will include Natalie Zemon Davis (Univ. of Toronto), Crystal N. Feimster (Yale Univ.), Patricia Albjerg Graham (Harvard Univ.), Darlene Clark Hine (Northwestern Univ.), Linda K. Kerber (Univ. of Iowa), and Alice Kessler-Harris (Columbia Univ.) The presenters will reflect on what may be learned from the early struggles to establish women's and gender history in the AHA and in the discipline to help us confront the challenges of the present. All of the presenters are distinguished historians, and several of them were involved with the CWH, formed in 1971, in its early years. That session will conclude at 4:30.
Finally, on Sunday, January 5 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Marriott's Maryland Suite A, the AHA and the CCWH will sponsor a joint session, "Forty-Five Years of the CCWH: Then, Now, and the Future." The session will explore the history of the organization and how it continues to both promote the study of women's history and advocate for women in the historical profession
Mindful of the need for guidance in the everyday challenges of our profession, on Friday, January 3, the CWH will sponsor a workshop on "Negotiating Your Employment Contract" from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in the Marriott's Wilson Room C. Participants will discuss strategies for successfully negotiating an employment contract for historians on the job market. Both women and men struggle with knowing what to ask for and when to ask for it when negotiating their first employment contract. This workshop will offer advice on effective negotiating tactics and what to ask about during negotiations, such as such as travel funding, release time, funds for moving expenses, and office equipment.
—Leora Auslander (Univ. of Chicago) is the chair of the AHA's Committee on Women Historians.
—Debbie Ann Doyle is the AHA's coordinator, committees and meetings.