Committee Reports 2004

The Committee on International Historical Activities

The Committee on International Historical Activities continued in 2004 to serve as the liaison between American historians and the International Congress of Historical Sciences (often identified by its French acronym, CISH), in preparation for the 20th International Congress, which will be held in July 2005 in Sydney, Australia. The program for the congress, now largely set, includes a number of participants nominated by the committee.

In his capacity as chair of the committee, Dane Kennedy served as the AHA’s representative on the board of the Friends of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., and took part in an ongoing American Council on Education initiative to internationalize student learning outcomes.

Dane Kennedy

The Committee on the Master’s Degree in History

The Committee on Master’s Degree in History advanced its understanding of the many varieties and roles of the degree during 2004. We continue to be struck by the diversity of the degrees offered and the many employment niches they fill. Our goal continues to be the description of the range of current practices at the master’s level, the identification of good practices in these programs, and the delineation of the necessary historical content and historical practice needed to insure that these degrees serve students, the profession and the public effectively.

Following an open forum organized by the committee at the 2004 annual meeting, we collected additional comments on our work and developed our penultimate report. It was made available online in late November. Our search for foundation money to continue the project has resulted in funding for a Wingspread Conference for about 30 participants to be held May 16-18, 2005. Over the course of the year, Phil Katz, our research director, wrote a series of articles for Perspectives on the work of the committee. Unfortunately, we lost Phil Katz to the lure of permanent employment on November 1, 2005. The committee is grateful for his energetic, thoughtful, and thorough analysis of the present state and future possibilities of master’s education in history.

David S. Trask

The Committee on Minority Historians

Since the last annual report, the Committee on Minority Historians (CMH) has continued its work on improving the position and status of minority members of the AHA. In October the committee conducted an informative web meeting. The primary issues discussed were developing an “Advice Sheet” for distribution to departments, further development of the committee’s web page, the pamphlet on Native American History, and the Conference on Race and Human Variations sponsored by the American Anthropological Association.

The committee believes the Advice Sheet can play a significant role in improving the position of minority faculty in departments. It will allow departments to become more aware of factors that often have a direct effect on recruiting and retaining minority faculty. The committee is examining the “best practices” noted by other committees.

We are very pleased that that the CMH now has a dedicated web page. this will allow the committee to post important information and publicize new initiatives. The web page directly addresses one of the concerns of minority faculty members—access to relevant information. We are grateful to Noralee Frankel for working with this project.

The committee has agreed that the pamphlet on Native American History needs to be revised. We are currently seeking an author for the project. This is a priority and we hope that the project will be completed in a timely manner.

In September Noralee Frankel and I attended the Conference on Race and Human Variations sponsored by the American Anthropological Association. The discussion was lively and often divided between the geneticists and the social scientists. I must say that the CMH and the AHA made an excellent choice in requesting that Thomas Holt serve as a presenter. He provided the proper historical context for considering issues of race. Not surprisingly, by the end of the meeting many questions remained unanswered. Nonetheless, those whose charge is to create the exhibit noted that they benefited from the discussion.

The CMH eagerly anticipated the annual meeting in Seattle. We hosted the mentoring breakfast and the reception for minority members, which were well attended. These events should continue to be a part of the annual meeting. The reception was one of the few times that minority members of the AHA came together at the annual meeting. Lastly, we were very pleased to sponsor two joint sessions with the National History Center.  The general topic of the sessions was Native Americas and Africa.

The annual meeting in Seattle marked the end of my active tenure with the CMH. I have enjoyed serving with committee members for the last four years and I hope that I have helped the committee meet its mission. I would like to thank the AHA staff, especially Noralee and Cliff Jacobs for their dependable expertise and guidance. Their support and encouragement are greatly appreciated.

Carlton Wilson

Committee on Women Historians

The Committee on Women Historians has focused its efforts this year on preparing the document “Best Practices in the Academic History Work Place,” which will guide department chairs and other administrators in their efforts to make the academic work place more hospitable and equitable for women faculty. At the same time, we have been preparing a companion guide for historians in the public sector. These activities are part of our continuing response to the committee’s Survey of Women Members of the AHA, which revealed continuing inequities for women historians. Elizabeth Lunbeck, the previous chair of the committee, has published a summary of her report on the survey. It appeared in the January 2005 issue of Perspectives as Disparities Continue, CWH Survey Reveals.” Lunbeck was the speaker at the committee’s breakfast at the AHA in the same month. She reported the survey’s findings and placed them in the context of similarly discouraging reports such as the Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT. (The entire report will be posted to the committee’s web page at the AHA’s web site later this spring.) Her talk was very well-received.

The committee also sponsored a panel at the AHA annual meeting on “Creating an Equitable Workplace.” Lunbeck (Princeton Univ.), Linda K. Kerber (Univ. of Iowa and president-elect of the AHA), William Chafe (Duke Univ.), and Michael McGerr (Indiana) assessed the problems the profession confronts and suggested an array of possible solutions. The audience was smaller than we would have liked, no doubt because the session was on the first morning of the conference, but the discussion was excellent. The committee hopes to engage department chairs and other administrators in the issues that have been of concern to women in the profession. The controversy surrounding Harvard University President Lawrence Summers’s comments about the underrepresentation of women among science faculty suggests that these issues are of deep concern to women in the academy, as well as professionals more widely.

The committee is pleased that volume 1 of Women’s History in a Global Perspective, edited by Bonnie G. Smith, Rutgers University, has now been published (by University of Illinois Press). This volume addresses comparative themes and has essays by the eminent scholars Margaret Strobel, Marjorie Bingham, Ann B. Waltner, Mary Jo Mayes, Julia Clancy-Smith, Alice Kessler-Harris, Pamela Scully, Mrinalini Sinha, and Susan Kent. The committee worked with Smith by critiquing the essays and making suggestions.

The committee continues to develop its web pages, which it hopes will be a good resource for women in the profession. The committee thanked Judith Jeffrey Howard and Laura York, who are leaving the committee, for their exemplary service.

Jan Lewis

The Task Force on Public History

The tenure of the Task Force on Public History was originally scheduled to end upon submission of its report to the AHA Council in 2003; it was, however, extended through 2004 to enable it to work with AHA divisions and staff to identify priorities and begin to implement some of the 51 recommendations included in the report.

Among the key recommendations are two that we believe are of singular importance:

  • Reopen the discussion about “what counts” in the work of history faculty, with the goal of encouraging history departments to recognize a wide range of scholarly activities in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.
  • Develop a broad advocacy program to encourage employers to hire professionals trained in history to do historical work.

Both have been referred to the Professional Division.

The task force also assessed several potential new initiatives recommended in its report and identified three as among the most imperative and viable:

  • Development of resources and networks for state level advocacy for history
  • Development of systematic channels of communication between journalists and historians, with the goal of encouraging better representation of history in the media.
  • Creation of professional development opportunities to serve both public and academic historians to encourage ongoing, collegial relationships.

As its final act of business, the task force addressed the question of how to institutionalize attention to public history within the structure of the AHA. It recommended to Council—and Council accepted—a two-pronged approach: that responsibility for public history, broadly defined, needs to be integrated throughout the AHA, its Council, divisions and committees; and that particular responsibility for the concerns of public historians and the practice of public history lies with the Professional Division.

Clearly, much work remains to be done for public history and public historians to be integrated fully into the work of the AHA. Yet revisions that have made the Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct a more inclusive document, changes in content and format of the annual meeting, greater attention to public history within Perspectives, the establishment of an informal public history “slot” on the Professional Division, efforts to track the postgraduate careers of all history PhDs, AHA’s developing relationship with the American Association for State and Local History, and other changes in the way the Association is doing business, all signal a more deliberate focus on public history. The Task Force on Public History thus concluded its work on an optimistic note.

Linda Shopes

The Task Force on Intellectual Property

During 2004, the major activity of the Task Force on Intellectual Property has been to support the work of our member Michael Les Benedict in compiling an online “Historians’ Guide to Copyright” which Benedict hopes to complete in the summer, 2005. There has been a great deal of confusion among historians about what their rights are, both with respect to teaching and publishing. The problems range from a professor’s rights to the lectures he gives, especially in the digital environment, to questions about the right to republish images and text in either print or digital form. We have been asked by the Research Division to compile a specific statement on the application of the traditional doctrine of Fair Use (within the context of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to various historical research, teaching and publication activities. In each of these areas the hard and important questions relate to the impact of information technology on longstanding legal doctrines of intellectual property. There have been few dispositive judicial decisions relating to these questions since the passage of the DMCA, so that members of the profession are understandably uncertain and concerned. We hope that the Benedict guide will be a solid first step in addressing these questions.

Stanley N. Katz

The Pacific Coast Branch of the AHA

At the 2004 annual meeting of the PCB, held in San Jose, California,160 individuals, 30 of whom were graduate students, registered to attend 34 academic sessions. The program also included a luncheon speaker sponsored by the Western Association of Women Historians and a banquet address by President Roger L. Nichols of the University of Arizona.

The following prizes were awarded:

  • The Pacific Coast Branch Book Award to Marcia Yonemoto, University of Colorado, Boulder, for Mapping Early Japan: Space, Place, and Culture in the Tokugawa Period, 1603–1868 (University of California Press)
  • The Norris and Carol Hundley Award to Carol J. Williams, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, for Framing the West: Race, Gender, and the Photographic Frontier in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford University Press)

  • The W. Turrentine Jackson dissertation award to Benny Joseph Andres, Jr. (University of New Mexico) for “Power and Control in Imperial Valley, California: Nature, Agribusiness, Labor and Race Relations, 1900-1940.

  • The Louis Knott Koontz Memorial Award for the most deserving article to appear in the Pacific Historical Review in the volume year 2003 to John Sbardellati and Tony Shaw for “Booting a Tramp: Charlie Chaplin, the FBI, and the Construction of the Subversive Image in Red Scare America.”

  • The W. Turrentine Jackson Prize for an outstanding essay in the PHR by a graduate student to Krystyn R. Moon, Georgia State University, for “’There’s no Yellow in the Red, White, and Blue’: The Creation of Anti-Japanese Music During World War II.”

By mail ballots cast during the summer 2004, the PCB membership chose Albert Camarillo (Stanford University), as president-elect; Gayle Gullett (Arizona State University), Paul Spickard (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Becky Nicolaides (University of California, San Diego) as members of the Council and Louise Pubols (Autry Museum of Western Heritage), Mary Murphy (Montana State University), and David Igler (University of California, Irvine) as members of the Nominating Committee.

Finances

As of December 31, 2004, the PCB held $174,021 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 value of assets owned by the Branch as of December 31, 2004, totaled $218,717.

For the fiscal year, July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2004, the income for the Pacific Historical Review (which had a circulation of 1,460) was $120,733, and expenses (including a $3,500 subsidy to the editorial office of the PHR and a $5,462 royalty to the PCB) totaled $83,542.

Janet Farrell Brodie