Committee Reports 2005
The Committee on International Historical Activities
The Committee on International Historical Activities saw much of its work as liaison with the international historical community reach a gratifying conclusion in July 2005, when the 20th congress of the International Congress of Historical Sciences was held in Sydney, Australia. The Committee’s efforts helped ensure that a large and intellectually vibrant contingent of American historians participated in this congress, which brings historians together from across the globe once every five years. A report on the event appeared in the September 2005 Perspectives.
In his capacity as chair of the committee, Dane Kennedy carried out several other duties on behalf of the AHA. He chaired a special committee that prepared a report on internationalizing student learning outcomes in history for the American Council on Education. A summary account of this report appeared in the March 2006 Perspectives; the full report is available on the AHA web site. He also served as one of the AHA’s two representatives on the board of the Friends of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.
The Committee on the Master’s Degree in History
The Committee on the Master’s Degree in History ended its work this year. We hope that our efforts have produced a body of useful information for departments seeking to evaluate and improve their master’s degree programs and for prospective students to use when considering graduate schools. Furthermore, data in this report can be used by departments for internal college reports and for grant applications. Our concrete efforts fell into several distinct areas.
Our final report, “Retrieving the Master’s Degree from the Dustbin of History,” received its final revision in 2005 and is now available online at www.historians.org/projects/
cmd/2005/Report/index.cfm and also as a printed pamphlet.
The committee held a conference on the theme “Competencies and Credentials for Training History Professionals” in mid-May at the Wingspread conference center. Members of the Committee on the Master’s Degree and members of the AHA staff met with about 25 invited guests to address our three part agenda:
- identify common standards and outcomes for graduate programs in the historical profession, including history educators at all levels of instruction;
- combine and reinforce the efforts of various professional associations in history and allied fields that have begun to define separate training standards of their own;
- foster improvements in the quality of historical interpretation at K–12 institutions, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and every sort of public venue by promoting a common preparation of historians in all of these professional settings.
Our third effort was the continuing production of articles for Perspectives and other publications on the master’s degree in history. The committee also held sessions at the AHA and other professional conferences.
As chair I would like to thank the staff of the American Historical Association and especially our research director, Phil Katz, for their untiring support and helpful direction of this project. Committee members provided consistent and thoughtful guidance that contributed to the success of this effort.
David S. Trask
The Committee on Minority Historians
This year the Committee on Minority Historians (CMH) focused most of its efforts on a single project: drafting an advice sheet for deans and department chairs on increasing the hiring of minority historians and promoting their professional development. Modeled in many respects after the document “Gender Equity in the Academic History Workplace: A Guide to Best Practices,” composed by the Committee on Women Historians and approved by Council in May 2005, the CMH advice sheet will offer guidance on recruitment and hiring, departmental climate, teaching duties, mentoring, community service, and other matters that affect the careers of minority historians. The committee began this project in 2003.
In spring 2005, the committee critically assessed its earlier work and decided to reframe the general purpose of the advice sheet. Both the cover letter and the justifications for many of the specific recommendations will stress that, without improvements in current practices for the recruitment of minority graduate students, the hiring of minority historians, and the nurturing of their professional development, the number of such historians will not keep pace in coming decades with projected increases in the number of people of color in both the general and the college-bound populations. This disturbing prospect requires an energetic response now. The advice sheet will outline a variety of measures that can enhance the attractiveness of the historical profession as a career for minorities and, thus, assure that the profession as a whole sustains its intellectual vibrancy and relevance in an increasingly racially diverse society.
The committee drafted new versions of the cover letter and the advice sheet during the summer and early fall and reviewed the work in mid-November. In evaluating this work, the committee agreed on the pressing need for data on minority historians’ specific areas of teaching and research interest. By showing the extent to which minority historians are concentrated in the various fields of U. S. minority history and underrepresented in other areas of the discipline, these data will provide an important benchmark for measuring and interpreting future changes in the distribution of minorities within the profession. The data will also shed light on the issue of academic ghettoization and the factors that affect both the selection of field specializations by minority graduate students and the acquisition of new specializations by tenured minority faculty.
The committee confirmed its plans for the sponsorship of three sessions at the AHA annual meeting in Atlanta in 2007. The sessions are on African American/Latino relations in the 20th century, African American life and race relations in Atlanta since 1945, and the physically disabled in historically black colleges and universities. The committee also proposed four promising topics—-race and the 2008 presidential election, race and American foreign policy in the twenty-first century, race and religion, and race and the United States Constitution for panels in 2008. It is hoped that the committee will continue to maintain and rely on a two-year pipeline for proposing and organizing panels for the annual meetings after 2008.
The publication plans have advanced significantly. Donald Grinde, who sits currently on the committee, will write a new edition of the AHA’s pamphlet Teaching American Indian History and has submitted a proposal outlining the subject matter. The committee is seeking to recruit an author for an article in Perspectives on Asian American history. Separately, the committee agreed on an acceptable ad hoc procedure for considering the candidacy of individual Native American historians to serve on the CMH. The need for the AHA to increase the membership and involvement of Native American historians still remains pressing and deserves careful attention in the future.
At the AHA annual meeting in Philadelphia, the committee hosted a breakfast for minority graduate students and first-year faculty and a reception for minority scholars, graduate students, and others. The committee also sponsored the roundtable session “Northern Emancipation as National History: Retelling the Black Freedom Struggle above the Mason-Dixon Line,” which drew a particularly large and engaged audience.
The committee thanked Sandra Jowers, whose term has ended, for her exemplary service. My term has also ended, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Noralee Frankel of the AHA staff for her unstinting support of the work of the CMH.
The Committee on Women Historians
The Committee on Women Historians has focused its efforts this year on completing and disseminating the document “Best Practices in the Academic History Work Place.” The document was approved by Council and has subsequently been sent to department chairs, been published (in summary form) in Perspectives, and posted at the CWH web site. The dissemination of this document represents another major step in what has, effectively been the committee’s primary project for the past half-decade, It began with the committee’s survey of women in the historical profession. The survey revealed that although there have been significant improvements and changes in the status of women in the historical profession in the past several decades, significant problems persist. Elizabeth Lunbeck, chair of the committee when the survey was administered, has summarized the results of the survey in her report, “The Status of Women in the Historical Profession.” The Best Practices document represents our response to the issues raised by Lunbeck’s report and our belief that the committee and the AHA should try actively to bring those issues to the attention of the profession more widely and suggest guidelines for department chairs and other administrators. Too often the burden for addressing gender inequities in the academic workplace falls upon individual women who are suffering under inequities of one sort or another. It is our hope that the best practices document will encourage administrators to play an active role in attempting to assure gender equity. The committee has also prepared a companion document, “Best Practices in the History Work Place,” which addressed the issues that confront women in nonacademic history work places, such as museums, archives and libraries, and other historical organizations and associations. At the fall meeting, the committee approved this document and suggested that it be circulated to other historical organizations, which may also want to adopt it.
The committee suggested that the issues raised by the Lunbeck Report might be addressed in the upcoming summer workshop for directors of graduate programs. The report notes that most women graduate students, who do not complain of sexism in their graduate programs, are unprepared when they encounter it in their first jobs after they receive their PhD’s.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, the James Duncan Phillips Professor of History at Harvard University, was this year’s CWH Breakfast speaker. Her talk, “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History,” delivered to a capacity audience at the Philadelphia annual meeting, was, as might be expected, both elegant and moving. The committee also sponsored a session, a roundtable on “Women’s and Gender History in Global Perspective,” organized by committee member James Green. This session was based on the three-volume series Women’s History in Global Perspective published by University of Illinois Press with the American Historical Association. The presenters—Ann Twinam (Univ. of Texas at Austin), Julia A. Clancy-Smith (Univ. of Arizona), and Mary Jo Maynes and Ann Waltner (Univ. of Minnesota)—are authors in the series. Belinda Davis (Rutgers Univ. at New Brunswick), chaired the session, and Seth Koven (Villanova Univ.), provided comments.
Barbara Ransby, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Professor Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth College, joined the committee in January. Ransby is serving as chair. At the same time, Annette Palmer and Jan Lewis rotated off.
Since this is my last report as chair, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the committee, with all of whom it has been a great privilege to serve, and to thank the members of the AHA staff—Noralee Frankel, Arnita Jones, and Cliff Jacobs—who not only have made all of our work much easier, but have been wonderful colleagues.
Committee for Graduate Students
In the year 2005, the CGS organized two panels focusing on the graduate student experience for the 2006 Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia, including “How Can I Improve my C.V. for the Job Market? An Interactive Workshop,” and a roundtable discussion on the theme, “What is the Meaning of the Master’s Degree?” We continued to advise the AHA on ongoing projects, including the workshops on graduate education which the AHA organized for the first time this year for incoming DGSs and the report on the state of the master’s degree. We also continued to work on making the CGS web site more user-friendly.
Ivonne Wallace Fuentes
The Pacific Coast Branch of the AHA
The 98th annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association took place at Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, August 4–7, 2005. The history department at Oregon State University sponsored the meeting. The Corvallis Local Arrangements Committee consisted of Paul Farber and William Robbins, both of Oregon State University. Katherine Morrissey (Univ. of Arizona), and Jose Alamillo (Western Washington State Univ.), co-chaired the program committee. They were aided by program committee members: Nan Alamilla Boyd(Sonoma State Univ.), Lisa Cody (Claremont McKenna Coll.), Chris Conte (Utah State Univ.), Diana Lary (Univ. of British Columbia), Howard Shorr (Portland Community Coll.), and Elliott Young (Lewis & Clark Coll.).
The program, with the theme “Dancing on the Rim: Nations, Borderlands, and Identities,” featured 50 sessions and attracted 201 participants. Topics ranged widely from toxic racism and environmental justice to urban history, gender and racial identities, religious and ethnic histories, nature and wilderness, peace and international justice, and historical memory. Other sessions included papers in Chicano history, working class U.S. history, U.S. relations with East Asia, and Cuban identity. One roundtable honored Elizaabeth Jameson, 2005 president of the PCB. Eileen Boris (Univ. of California at Santa Barbara), addressed the luncheon of the Western Association of Women Historians on the topic “The Wages of Care.” At the annual banquet, Elizabeth Jameson (Univ. of Calgary), gave the presidential address, “Dancing on the Rim, Tiptoeing Through the Minefields: Challenges and Promises of the Borderlands” which appeared in the February 2006 issue of the Pacific Historical Review. In addition to the conference sessions, participants enjoyed a complimentary welcoming reception at the Corvallis Country Club, hosted by the Oregon State University Department of History and a no-host evening of jazz and talk at a downtown Corvallis delicatessen/pub. A dessert reception following the presidential talk was sponsored by Information Resources and by the Department of History, University of Calgary, and by the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies, Washington State University.
The PCB awarded prizes in 2005: The Louis Knott Koontz Memorial Award for the most outstanding article to appear in the Pacific Historical Review in the previous year to Charlotte Brooks for “Sing Sheng vs. Southwood: Residential Integration in Cold War California”; the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize for an outstanding essay in the PHR by a graduate student was shared by Ryan M. Kray, “The Path to Paradise: Expropriation, Expulsion, and Exclusion in the Making of Palm Springs” (February 2004) and Justin Hart for “Making Democracy Safe for the World: Race, Propaganda, and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy During World War II” (February 2004); the W. Turrentine Jackson Dissertation Award to Lissa Wadewitz (UCLA), for “The Nature of Borders: Salmon and Boundaries in the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin.” for her dissertation; the Norris and Carol Hundley Award to Nikhil Pal Singh for his book, Black is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2004); and the PCB Book Award to Martin Summers for Manliness and Its Discontents; The Black Middle Class and the Transformation of Masculinity, 1900–1930 (University of North Carolina Press).
By mail ballots cast during the summer 2005, the PCB membership chose Linda Biesele Hall (Univ. of New Mexico), as president-elect; Noriko Kawamura (Washington State Univ.), Henry Yu (UCLA and Univ. of British Columbia) and Mina Carson (Oregon State Univ.) as new members of the council; and Karen Leong (Arizona State Univ.) and Robin Walz (Univ. of Alaska Southeast) as new members of the Nominating Committee.
Janet Farrell Brodie