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  • September 24, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The AHA has issued a statement on last week’s “White House Conference on American History” deploring the tendentious use of history and history education to stoke politically motivated culture wars. 

    As of September 24, 25 organizations signed onto the statement.

    Download the statement as a PDF.

    Approved by AHA Council, September 23, 2020

    On September 17, the White House announced, “In commemoration of Constitution Day, President Trump will travel to the National Archives to participate in a discussion on the liberal indoctrination of America’s youth through the 1619 Project, Critical Race Theory, and other misleading, radical ideologies with a diverse group of professors, historians, and scholars. The President will deliver remarks on his Administration’s efforts to promote a more balanced, accurate, and patriotic curricula in America’s schools.”

    This hastily assembled “White House Conference on American History” took place in the Rotunda of the National Archives, although the National Archives and Records Administration had no role in organizing the program. The organizers of the event neither informed nor consulted associations of professional historians. 

    The American Historical Association addresses this “conference” and the president’s ill-informed observations about American history and history education reluctantly and with dismay. The event was clearly a campaign stunt, deploying the legitimating backdrop of the Rotunda, home of the nation’s founding documents, to draw distinctions between the two political parties on education policy, tie one party to civil disorder, and enable the president to explicitly attack his opponent. Like the president’s claim at Mount Rushmore two months ago that “our children are taught in school to hate their own country,” this political theater stokes culture wars that are meant to distract Americans from other, more pressing current issues. The AHA only reluctantly gives air to such distraction; we are not interested in inflating a brouhaha that is a mere sideshow to the many perils facing our nation at this moment. 

    Past generations of historians participated in promoting a mythical view of the United States. Missing from this conventional narrative were essential themes that we now recognize as central to a complete understanding of our nation’s past. As scholars, we locate and evaluate evidence, which we use to craft stories about the past that are inclusive and able to withstand critical scrutiny. In the process, we engage in lively and at times heated conversations with each other about the meaning of evidence and ways to interpret it. As teachers, we encourage our students to question conventional wisdom as well as their own assumptions, but always with an emphasis on evidence. It is not appropriate for us to censor ourselves or our students when it comes to discussing past events and developments. To purge history of its unsavory elements and full complexity would be a disservice to history as a discipline and the nation, and in the process would render a rich, fascinating story dull and uninspiring.

    The AHA deplores the use of history and history education at all grade levels and other contexts to divide the American people, rather than use our discipline to heal the divisions that are central to our heritage. Healing those divisions requires an understanding of history and an appreciation for the persistent struggles of Americans to hold the nation accountable for falling short of its lofty ideals. To learn from our history we must confront it, understand it in all its messy complexity, and take responsibility as much for our failures as our accomplishments.

    The following organizations have cosigned this statement:

    African American Intellectual History Society
    American Anthropological Association
    American Journalism Historians Association
    American Society for Environmental History
    American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies
    American Sociological Association
    American Studies Association
    Chinese Historians in United States
    Committee on LGBT History
    Conference on Asian History
    Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions
    French Colonial Historical Society
    Immigration and Ethnic History Society
    Massachusetts Historical Society
    Medieval Academy of America
    Modern Greek Studies Association
    North American Conference on British Studies
    Radical History Journal
    Shakespeare Association of America
    Society for Austrian and Habsburg History
    Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
    Society of Automotive Historians
    Society of Civil War Historians
    Southern Historical Association
    World History Association

  • July 30, 2020 6:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The nominating committee works to identify outstanding candidates for elected leadership positions within ASEH. The next election will take place in January 2021, but, as described in the guidelines posted here, the work begins now. Over the course of the summer and early fall, the nominating committee will assemble a slate of candidates which represents the breadth and diversity of scholars contributing to the society, including scholars with a range of research interests and relevant experiences.

    Do you seek to chart ASEH’s course in the coming years? Have you admired a fellow ASEH member’s commitment to our common principles, or their efforts to advocate on behalf of others? Perhaps you’ve been astounded by how effortlessly a colleague organized a workshop or conference panel. Or possibly you’ve long admired how a fellow ASEH member instills a rich appreciation for environmental history among public audiences. 

    If the answer to any of these questions is yes—the nominating committee of ASEH would appreciate your help. During summer 2020, the committee welcomes self-nominations and nominations of other ASEH members to elected leadership positions. The following positions will be filled by election in 2021.

    • One candidate for Vice President/President elect

    As Vice President, this person will have overall charge of arrangements for the society's annual program, for which purpose he/she shall also appoint a program committee. This group shall consist of interested officers and members. He/she shall also arrange joint programs with other organizations in cooperation with the President and members of the executive committee. He/she shall act for the President in all other matters when the President is absent or unable to act. As President, he/she will preside at all business meetings of the society, shall appoint members of all committees except where otherwise provided for in the bylaws, and shall be ex-officio a member of all committees, except when the committee or its chairman is appointed by the executive committee.

    • One candidate for Secretary

    The Secretary shall keep a record of the meetings of the executive committee and the Society's business meetings, and shall assist the President in arranging these meetings and distributing materials for review.

    • Three Executive Committee Members  (6 candidates needed)
    Elected members of the executive committee shall participate equally and jointly with elected officers in making collective decisions concerning the society where provided for in these bylaws or where otherwise necessary and proper.
    • Two Nominating Committee Members (4 candidates needed)

    These members are charged with identifying candidates to stand for elections, which take place in the January of odd years.

    To make a nomination, you can use the online Nomination Form or feel free to contact any of the four current nominating committee members via e-mail: Michael Egan <egan@mcmaster.ca>,  Liza Piper <epiper@ualberta.ca>, Kendra Smith-Howard <ksmithhoward@albany.edu>,  or Ling Zhang <ling.zhang.2@bc.edu>.

    Nominations will be taken until October 5, 2020.
  • July 28, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Approved by AHA Council, July 2020 - link to statement

    All students benefit from studying history at the undergraduate level. The American Historical Association has, and will continue to, assist history departments in making the case for the imperative of historical learning and thinking in higher education.

    The Association recognizes that the compounding crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic implications have resulted in a dramatic decline in higher education revenues. Given the uncertainties—financial, epidemiological, and otherwise—of the upcoming fall term, administrators confront difficult choices. As historians, we recognize that an unprecedented combination of circumstances complicates decision-making even further.

    Wise decision-making by leaders in higher education, however, must be informed by historical perspective. Historians know how to take the long view. Their work, by its very nature, draws from, integrates, and synthesizes a variety of disciplines. Colleges and universities need these faculty members as participants in governance. The negative consequences of closing a history department would not take long to observe but would take years to reverse.

    A glance at recent references in the media reveals that our discipline is an attractive target for the budgetary axe. Because history education prepares students for careers rather than jobs, its benefits are readily underestimated. This is especially ironic given that the historical knowledge and thinking that undergird the work of citizenship are arguably more essential now than ever. For this reason alone, history education must retain its vibrancy and institutional integrity.

    The AHA recognizes that every discipline has a claim to its centrality to higher education; moreover, each institution has its own mission, its own priorities, and its own culture. What we ask, however, is that individuals making budgetary decisions in higher education respect the established principles and procedures of faculty governance and consult with faculty from all disciplines at their institution. We expect that leaders will prioritize the educational missions of their institutions in a manner consistent with the humane values that stand at the core of education itself.

    The AHA stands prepared to help history departments state their case. The content and methodology of history are crucial to the education of intellectually agile graduates who are well-prepared to navigate dynamic work environments and participate fully in civic life. History students not only gain knowledge and develop insights and judgement that help them succeed in college and contribute to their communities; they also learn skills-in communication, analysis, cultural competence, and research, among others-that are consistently cited by employers as important credentials. To succeed in college, and subsequently to be effective participants in workplaces and communities, students must learn to evaluate one or more potentially competing accounts and interpretations of things that (ostensibly) happened in the recent or distant past-whether those are accounts of an election, a riot, a religious awakening, changes in workplaces, or an intellectual breakthrough. Citizens of a democratic republic need to be able to evaluate sources and evidence in a glut of digital information, and to think clearly in the midst of a cacophony of voices in the public sphere.

    Several higher education institutions have recently closed or consolidated history departments, or laid off substantial numbers of historians. Others now contemplate such measures. Doing so comes at immense cost to students and to colleges and universities themselves, and to society as a whole. To eliminate or decimate a history department is a lose-lose proposition: it deprives students of essential learning and skills, even as it strips institutions of the essential perspectives and intellectual resources so necessary to confront the present and shape the future.

    The following organizations have cosigned this statement:

    Agricultural History Society
    American Catholic Historical Association
    American Journalism Historians Association
    American Society for Environmental History
    Association for the Study of African American Life and History
    Chinese Historians in United States
    Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History
    Conference on Latin American History
    Coordinating Council for Women in History
    Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions
    French Colonial Historical Society
    Hungarian Studies Association
    Immigration and Ethnic History Society
    Labor and Working-Class History Association
    National Council for Public History
    Organization of American Historians
    Sixteenth Century Society & Conference
    Society for Austrian and Habsburg History
    Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
    Society for the History of Discoveries
    Society of Biblical Literature
    Society of Civil War Historians
    Southern Historical Association
    Western History Association


  • July 23, 2020 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Approved by AHA Council, July 2020 - full statement here

    COVID-19 is not just altering historians’ everyday life; it has also upended historical research. Although most university and college administrators have issued FAQs, guidelines, and resources that relate to the continuance of laboratory and human subjects research, they have not always addressed the conditions under which historians work or considered how to make accommodations for historical research during the pandemic. Moreover, in assessing productivity at this moment, it is imperative that university administrations recognize the distinctions among disciplines in types of research and to take into account the unusually burdensome tasks of teaching now affecting all instructors.

    Historical research generally involves identifying and analyzing primary documents, which can include written, visual, aural, or material resources. Archives, special collections at historical societies and libraries, museums, historic sites, and other repositories typically hold these materials. In many cases, scholars must travel to a particular archive to consult materials that are not available for external loan or in digital form. University departments and divisions, government sources of funding, and private sources such as foundations frequently support such research. Presently, however, domestic and international travel is prohibited or limited by many institutions, and many of these entities are suspending or postponing distribution of research money and cancelling fellowship competitions. Such actions are delaying or inhibiting historical research for an indefinite period. In addition, students and non-tenure-track and contingent faculty are in many cases experiencing restrictions to onsite-only library privileges. For graduate students, limited access to research is extending time to graduation. For early career scholars, limited research access is already slowing the publication of articles and books on which employment and tenure decisions are largely based. Lack of access to research materials also potentially disadvantages mid-level scholars in the promotion process.

    At the same time, repositories that safeguard and allow access to researchers have suffered staff layoffs, lost revenue, and in many cases the closing of their doors. The tasks of librarians, archivists, and curators have multiplied; they have taken on new public health training duties while continuing to try to answer reference questions in the absence of shelf access. Future conservation and digitization projects have been put on hold. Libraries are instead engaging in many cases in rapid-response collecting initiatives to capture peoples’ experiences during the pandemic. Serving researchers under such conditions is difficult at best.

    The AHA recognizes that sustaining historical research during the COVID-19 crisis requires flexible and innovative approaches to the conduct of research itself as well as to how we gauge productivity. To that end, the AHA makes the following observations and recommendations.

    Because PhD students and early career scholars are especially disadvantaged right now, we suggest the following:

    • Under the current circumstances, advisors and departments should assist PhD students in exploring dissertation topics that can, at least in the early phases, be accomplished using currently accessible source materials. Experienced scholars should also assist graduate students and early career scholars in crafting research proposals and methodologies to take account of what sources are and are not available at this time.
    • When possible, graduate programs should work to achieve extended funding for students in order to facilitate the successful and timely completion of dissertations.

    Evaluators of scholarship and dissertation and thesis advisors should keep in mind current limitations on research access when evaluating scholarly work. Now is the time to acknowledge a wider range of scholarly productivity. Under the current circumstances, several ways exist to facilitate historical research:

    • Departments, universities, libraries, archives, museums, and funding agencies should encourage collaborative projects across fields, ranks, and institutions.
    • Departments, universities, and funding agencies should extend existing research funding, allow scholars to adjust budgets, and, in some cases, redirect funds to domestic and/or foreign research assistants for the digitization of sources. 
    • Research libraries should permit research fellows to defer on-site visits when possible and in accordance with public health and safety guidelines.

    Departments, universities, and employers of historians should consider ways to document how the crisis is affecting research, writing, and the ability to disseminate research by introducing appropriate accommodations to the rate of productivity while preserving existing standards of quality. Advisors, chairs, directors of programs, and administrators should work to ensure conditions that allow scholars to progress toward their goals and advance their careers. These include:

    • Cancelled conference presentations and talks, and postponed fellowships, grants, and other funding should be included on curricula vitae.
    • Departments, universities, and historical organizations should encourage alternative ways for scholars to network and to receive feedback on their work, such as participating in virtual conference sessions and workshops.
    • Departments, colleges, universities, and other employers of historians should review existing frameworks of assessment to ensure that they are evaluating a broad range of work that may fall outside the normal scholarly parameters.
    • Universities and historical organizations should consider finding ways for contingent faculty and independent scholars to have access to online databases and special collections. The AHA is committed to supporting these scholars; see the AHA’s Statement on Research Access (2020).

    The following organizations have endorsed this statement:

    African American Intellectual History Society
    Agricultural History Society
    American Folklore Society
    American Journalism Historians Association
    American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
    American Society for Environmental History
    Association for Asian Studies
    Association for Computers and the Humanities
    Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
    Bibliographical Society of America
    Business History Conference
    Chinese Historians in United States
    College Art Association
    Committee on LGBT History
    Conference on Asian History
    Conference on Latin American History
    Coordinating Council for Women in History
    French Colonial Historical Society
    German Studies Association
    Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China
    Hungarian Studies Association
    Immigration and Ethnic History Society
    Labor and Working Class History Association
    Medieval Academy of America
    National Council on Public History
    North American Conference on British Studies
    Organization of American Historians
    Polish American Historical Association
    Sixteenth Century Society & Conference
    Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
    Society for the History of Discoveries
    Society for Italian Historical Studies
    Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender
    Society of Architectural Historians
    Society of Civil War Historians
    Southern Historical Association
    Southern Labor Studies Association
    Western History Association
    World History Association

  • July 08, 2020 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ASEH endorsed a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement concerning its decision to end visa exemptions for international students. The Modern Language Association drafted the letter and sent it this afternoon to Matthew T. Albence, the deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The letter text and signatories are here. Full text below.

    Letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Concerning Its Decision to End Visa Exemptions for International Students

    In July 2020, the Modern Language Association and other members of the American Council of Learned Societies sent this letter to Matthew T. Albence, the deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    8 July 2020
     
    Deputy Director Matthew W. Albence
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    By email to matthew.albence@ice.gov

    Dear Deputy Director Albence,

    The higher education community represented by the undersigned disciplinary societies urges Immigration and Customs Enforcement to revisit its decision to end temporary visa exemptions for international students whose upcoming coursework will be entirely online. Colleges and universities alike depend on the presence, physical and online, of international visa holders, and many undergraduate and, especially, graduate students cannot complete their work without access to the archival, library, laboratory, and technical resources of their institutions, whether classes are being held entirely online or not. 

    International students are an important element of our institutions’ vitality and diversity, and the exemptions that were in place for spring and summer under the Student Exchange and Visitor Program allowed many students to remain connected to their US institutions during this unsettled time. Revoking those exemptions now will end the possibility of US study for international students, affecting both their futures and the futures of the institutions that have depended on and benefited from their contributions. These new restrictions will affect the futures of international students and will as profoundly affect the futures of the colleges and universities that depend on and benefit from their contributions. The increased financial burdens on US universities will be significant.

    Please reinstate the temporary visa exemptions for international students and faculty members while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including at least the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. The U.S. system of higher education has long attracted students from all over the world, and for good reason. Please do not refuse access to our colleges and universities for the estimated one million international students who would be affected by this change in policy.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    African Studies Association

    American Academy of Religion

    American Anthropological Association 

    American Comparative Literature Association Executive Committee

    American Folklore Society

    American Historical Association

    American Musicological Society

    American Political Science Association

    American Schools of Oriental Research

    American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

    American Society for Environmental History

    American Sociological Association 

    American Studies Association

    Archaeological Institute of America

    Association for Asian Studies

    Association for Jewish Studies Executive Committee

    Association for Research on Nonprofit Associations and Voluntary Action

    Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

    Bibliographical Society of America

    Latin American Studies Association 

    Medieval Academy of America

    Middle East Studies Association

    Modern Language Association

    National Communication Association 

    National Council of Teachers of English

    National Council on Public History

    North American Conference on British Studies

    Organization of American Historians

    Phi Beta Kappa Society

    Shakespeare Association of America

    Sixteenth Century Society and Conference

    Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study

    Society for Ethnomusicology

    Society for Biblical Literature 

    Society for Classical Studies

    Society for Music Theory

    Society of Architectural Historians

    World History Association

  • June 22, 2020 11:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members and Colleagues,

    The American Society for Environmental History has decided to postpone our April 2021 conference in Boston because we are not confident that Covid-19 will allow us to hold a large, in-person meeting this coming spring. We are extremely disappointed that we will not be able to see everyone. We are going to use next year as an opportunity to connect through regional meetings and local events that bring environmental historians together and environmental history to a wider audience - Environmental History Week.

    Environmental History Week is an international celebration of environmental history, organized by environmental historians of all stripes to foster scholarly collaboration, academic research, teaching and public awareness of environmental history. It will take place April 19-25, 2021, and will coincide with Earth Day.

    Please join us by organizing an event in your area, and sending information to us so we can publicize it on the Environmental History Week events calendar on the ASEH.org website. You can help diversify environmental history by inviting colleagues, scholars, and community-members who do not normally attend environmental history conferences to participate. Find collaborators by posting on H-Environment, other H-Net lists, and social media channels listed on the Environmental History Week website. ASEH will help connect people and organizations, and promote and amplify the events and good works in your communities.

    Environmental History Week events can take many forms. In person, face-to-face events could be all-day mini-conferences; environmental history lectures on a campus or at a public library or museum; student presentations at a student research symposium; film series with audience discussions; field trips or tours, or hands-on projects in collaboration with nonprofits in your area; or a teacher training program for local K-12, community college, or graduate students. Digital events could be virtual conferences conducted on an online, video conference platform; streamed films with online discussions; self-guided field trips; or a virtual museum exhibit. Programs for all audiences are welcome. If you have other ideas for events, please share them. ASEH will maintain a calendar of affiliated events and promote all Environmental History Week activities. Check aseh.org for regular updates and information

    Environmental History Week replaces the 2021 American Society for Environmental History conference in Boston. We are very grateful to the Boston Local Arrangements Committee for all their work. ASEH's annual meeting will return in 2022 in Eugene, Oregon; in 2023 ASEH will meet in Boston. In the meantime, Environmental History Week will provide rich opportunities for intellectual exchange, and for engaging the public, K-12 teachers, and scholars in adjacent fields in an era when global pandemic makes a large, international conference risky and unwise. We also hope that Environmental History Week will generate models for low-carbon alternatives to large academic conferences.

    Please join us as we celebrate environmental history and help us bring our interests and knowledge to a broader public.

    Thank you for your support.

    American Society for Environmental History

  • June 05, 2020 1:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ASEH has signed the AHA Statement on the History of Racist Violence in the United States.

    The AHA has issued a statement urging a reckoning with the United States' deplorable record of violence against African Americans, a record that stretches back centuries. The killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers stands within this sordid national tradition of racist violence. It is past time for Americans to confront our nation's past, using insights from history to inform our actions as we work to create a more just society. 

  • June 03, 2020 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ASEH Members,

    I feel torn apart by recent events.  The Covid-19 epidemic and job layoffs have caused terrible suffering in communities of color.  In the midst of that crisis came the horrific killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.  Those murders are, of course, only the most recent examples of a long history of racism and injustice toward African Americans in the United States.  Protestors have flooded into our streets to call for justice, and in too many cases police have responded to peaceful protest with violence. 

    In the midst of a terrible time, I am writing to say to all our members—and especially African Americans and members of other oppressed groups—that ASEH stands with you and condemns racism, injustice, and brutality.  I do not pretend to know what it feels like to be African American, but anyone can see that we live in a world of pain.  I too feel anger and despair.

    Now, as ever, we must work diligently to enact our principles of equity and inclusion in ASEH, educational institutions, and all of society.  I encourage all of us to contact colleagues, even by brief texts or emails, to let them know we support them.  We need to be ready to listen and respond to colleagues who voice their experiences with racism and injustice.  If there is a particular way in which I can help you, please let me know.  

    Sincerely,

    Edmund Russell


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American Society for Environmental History

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601 S. Morgan St.

Chicago, IL  60607-7109