The President's Preface 2003

AHA presidents come and go, with a one-year term folded into three years on the Council, but the Washington staff and the three permanent divisions are ongoing entities that perform the real work of the Association. In addition, numerous permanent committees and several task forces carry on valuable activities of administration, investigation, and oversight. This Annual Report bears witness to the thousands of person-hours of hard work that provide services to the 14,000 members of the AHA, maintain the high standards of the American Historical Review and of Perspectives, organize the annual meeting, gather data on a multitude of historical endeavors, advocate the interests and needs of historians to a wide array of public and private institutions including the United States government, administer prizes and fellowships, publicize “best practices” for teaching, scholarship, and public history—and in general serve as a clearinghouse of information and advice about all aspects of the historical profession.

The following pages contain a wealth of information on these and many other activities of the various divisions, committees, and task forces of the Association as well as of the executive director and her staff in Washington. Here you will find information on the advocacy efforts of the National Coalition for History, the valuable report of the Task Force on Public History, the publication of the superb study by the Committee on Graduate Education (The Education of Historians for the Twenty-First Century), the ongoing efforts to establish a National History Center in Washington, the plan of the Professional Division to revise the Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct, the consideration by the Research Division of new formats for sessions at the annual meeting, the Teaching Division’s monitoring of the “Teaching American History” initiative funded by Congress, and many other issues of interest and concern to historians.

The 2004 annual meeting in Washington drew a near-record number of participants. The numerous sessions organized around this year’s theme of war and peace were particularly relevant. This meeting was also the second to feature six “presidential sessions” on broad topics transcending particular specializations and featuring senior scholars. These sessions were lively and well attended; they have deservedly become a standard feature of the annual meeting.

Finally, I wish to thank the AHA staff and the members of divisions, committees, and task forces for their dedicated services that make this Association the great organization it is. As president, I needed only to stand back and watch in awe the smooth functioning of the operation.

James M. McPherson (Princeton Univ.) was president of the AHA for 2003.