Constitution and Bylaws

Article I: Name

The name of this society shall be the American Historical Association.

Article II: Purpose

Its object shall be the promotion of historical studies through the encouragement of research, teaching, and publication; the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts; the dissemination of historical records and information; the broadening of historical knowledge among the general public; and the pursuit of kindred activities in the interest of history.

Article III: Membership

Membership in the Association shall be open to any person interested in history on the payment of one year's dues. Any member whose dues are in arrears shall be dropped from the roll. Members who have been so dropped may be reinstated at any time by the payment in advance of one year's dues. Only members in good standing shall have the right to vote or hold office in the Association. The Council may elect honorary members of the Association, and such honorary members shall be exempt from payment of dues.

Article IV: Officers

Section 1: The elected officers shall be: the president, the president-elect, the immediate past-president, and three vice-presidents. The appointed officers shall be: the executive director, the editor of the American Historical Review, the controller, and such other officers as the Council considers necessary from time to time for the proper operation of the Association.

Section 2: The president shall be elected for a one-year term. It shall be his or her duty to preside at meetings of the Council and at the business meeting and to formulate policies and projects for presentation to the Council to fulfill the chartered obligations and purposes of the Association. After his or her term the president shall become the immediate past-president for a one-year term.

Section 3: The president-elect shall be elected for a one-year term. He or she shall be a member of the Council. If the office of president shall, through any cause, become vacant, the president-elect shall thereupon become president.

Section 4: The vice-presidents shall be elected for staggered three-year terms. Each shall serve as a member of the Council and as chair of a division of the Council (as described in Article VI).It shall be the duty of each vice-president, under the direction of the Council and with the assistance of the executive director, to formulate policies and projects for submission to the Council on behalf of his or her respective Division.

Section 5: The executive director shall be the chief administrative officer of the Association. It shall be his or her duty, under the direction of the Council, to oversee the affairs of the Association, to have responsibility for the continuing operations of the Association, to supervise the work of its committees, to assist in the formulation of policies and projects for submission to the Council, to execute instructions of the Council, and to perform such other duties as the Council may direct.

Section 6: The appointed officers shall be designated by the Council for specified terms of office not to exceed five years and shall be eligible for reappointment. They shall receive such compensation as the Council may determine.

Article V: Council

Section 1: There shall be a Council constituted as follows:

(a) The president, president-elect, immediate past-president, and three vice-presidents.

(b) Nine members who have been elected to one of the divisions of the Council.

(c) The executive director, editor of the American Historical Review, and controller as nonvoting members.

Section 2: The Council shall conduct the business, manage the property, and care for the general interests of the Association. The Council shall fix the amount of dues and the date on which any change of dues becomes effective. It may appoint such committees as it deems necessary. The Council shall call an annual meeting of the Association at a place and time it deems appropriate. It shall report to the membership on its deliberations and actions through the publications of the Association and at the business meeting.

Section 3: To transact necessary business between meetings of the Council, there shall be an Executive Committee composed of the president, president-elect, immediate past-president, and three vice presidents.

Article VI: Divisions

Section 1: The Council of the Association shall have three divisions: a Research Division, a Teaching Division, and a Professional Division. Each division shall act under the direction of the Council, and be comprised of a vice-president and three other members elected to that division.

Section 2: It shall be the duty of the Research Division to help promote historical scholarship, to encourage the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts, to ensure equal access to information, and to foster the dissemination of information about historical records and research.

Section 3: It shall be the duty of the Teaching Division,  to collect and disseminate information about the training of teachers and about instructional techniques and materials, and to encourage excellence in the teaching of history in the schools, colleges, and universities.

Section 4: It shall be the duty of the Professional Division to promote integrity, fairness, and civility in the practice of history, to collect and disseminate information about employment opportunities, and to help ensure equal opportunities for all historians, regardless of individual membership in the Association.

Article VII: Business Meeting

Section 1: The Council shall call a business meeting, open to all members of the Association in good standing, to convene at the time of the annual meeting.

Section 2: The business meeting may consider resolutions and proposals submitted by Council or by a petition of the membership, concerning the affairs of the Association, receive reports of officers and committees, instruct officers and the Council, and exercise any powers not reserved to the Council, Nominating Committee, and elected or appointed officers of the Association.

Section 3: All measures adopted by the business meeting shall come before the Council for acceptance, nonconcurrence, or veto. If accepted by the Council, they shall be binding on the Association.

Section 4: The Council may veto any measure adopted at the business meeting that it believes to be in violation of the Association's constitution, the law, or financially or administratively infeasible. The Council shall publish an explanation for each such veto.

Section 5: The Council may vote not to concur in any measure adopted by the business meeting. Within ninety days of such vote, the Council shall submit the measure to a vote of the entire membership with an opportunity for the proponents of the measure and the Council to set forth their respective positions. If approved by a majority of the members voting, the measure shall be binding on the Association.

Article VIII: Committees

Section 1: There shall be a Nominating Committee consisting of nine members, three of whom shall be elected each year. In the event of a vacancy, the president shall appoint an interim member to serve until the next annual election.

(a) The Nominating Committee shall nominate annually a candidate for president, and two candidates for each of the following: president-elect, a vice-president, each position on the divisions, each position on the Nominating Committee and Committee on Committees, and any elected position that is vacant.

(b) Nominations may also be made to any of the foregoing positions by petition supported by the signature of not less than one hundred members of the Association in good standing indicating the position for which the petition is intended. Nominations by petition must be received by the chair of the Nominating Committee not less than sixty days prior to the distribution of ballots.

Section 2: There shall be a Finance Committee comprised of the president, president-elect, and not less than one additional member of the Council selected by the president. In addition, upon nomination by the president, the Council may appoint additional persons to the Finance Committee provided that at all times a majority of the committee is composed of elected Council members. The Finance Committee shall monitor the financial condition of the Association, supervise the performance of any financial advisors or consultants, and report periodically to the Council.

Section 3: There shall be a Committee on Committees consisting of five members.  The president-elect shall serve as chair and four members shall be elected to staggered three-year terms. The committee shall nominate AHA members to serve on appointive committees of the Association, subject to approval by the Council.

Article IX: Elections

Section 1: There shall be an annual election for the offices of president, president-elect; a vice-president; and members of the divisions, Nominating Committee, Committee on Committees; and the unexpired term of any elected position that is vacant.  

Section 2: The annual ballot shall be distributed to the full membership of the Association at least six weeks before the annual meeting. No vote received after the due date specified on the ballot shall be valid. Election shall be by plurality of the votes cast for each vacancy. The results of the election shall be announced at the business meeting and in the publications of the Association. In the case of a tie vote, a coin flip shall determine the winner.       

Section 3: The Nominating Committee shall act as the supervisor of any election and all issues relating to any election shall be referred to it for final decision. The Nominating Committee shall keep all records of elections in a secure place for a period of not less than one year.

Article X: Amendments

Amendments to this constitution may be proposed by: (1) the Council, (2) petition to the Council of one hundred or more members in good standing, or (3) resolution at an annual business meeting. Any amendment shall be reported to the membership with arguments pro and con, if appropriate, and shall be included in the next annual vote for election of officers and committee members. Any amendment receiving a plurality of the votes cast in the election shall be considered adopted.

Article XI: Bylaws

The Council may adopt bylaws not inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution on any matter of concern to the Association.

Article XII: Interim Procedures

On the adoption of this constitution, the Council shall have the power to decide the details of the transition from the existing organization to that embodied in this document.

Bylaws

Article I: Name

None

Article II: Purpose

None

Article III: Membership

None

Article IV: Officers

1. Bylaws pursuant to Article IV, Section 3: If the president-elect assumes the office of president (pursuant to Article IX, Section 1) before his or her predecessor assumes office, the president-elect shall serve one term. If the president-elect assumes office after his or her predecessor has assumed office, the president-elect shall serve the balance of that term and may stand for an additional term as president.

2. Bylaws pursuant to Article IV, Section 5:

(1) Unless the Council specifies otherwise, the executive director shall serve as an ex officio member, without vote, of all committees of the Association.

(2) In the event the executive director is incapacitated, the president shall serve as acting executive director until the Council appoints a temporary or permanent executive director.

3. Bylaws pursuant to Article IV, Section 6:

(1) The Council shall, by majority vote, appoint the executive director, the editor of the American Historical Review, and the controller, and shall specify the term, not to exceed five years, for which each appointee shall hold office. Notwithstanding the duration of any such term, any such officer may be removed on a majority vote of the membership of the Council.

(2) The Council will arrange for annual reviews of the appointed officers of the Association.

(3) Not less than 18 months prior to the expiration of the term of any appointed officer (“officer”) the Council shall determine whether the officer wishes to be reappointed and the terms of any such reappointment.

(a) If the officer wishes to be reappointed, the Council shall appoint a review committee consisting of:

(i) in the case of the executive director: the past president (chair), a current member of Council, an elected officer of the Association at the time of the incumbent’s appointment or reappointment, and a member of the Association resident in the Washington D.C. area who is familiar with the executive director’s work with other scholarly, advocacy, and higher education associations.

(ii) in the case of the editor of the American Historical Review: the vice-president for research (chair), a current or past member of the American Historical Review Board of Editors who has served during the tenure of the current editor, and a faculty member nominated by the journal’s host department or university.

(iii) in the case of the controller: the president-elect (chair), a current member of the finance committee, and the executive director.

(b) Each committee shall review the performance of the officer in light of the position’s job description, any specific written directions given to the officer, and the officer’s relationship with the Council.

(i) in the case of the executive director and the controller and unless otherwise specified, any other officer appointed by the Council, the recommendation shall be made directly to Council.

(ii) in the case of the editor of the American Historical Review, the recommendation shall be made to the Research Division which in turn shall make its recommendation to Council.

(c) If the officer does not wish to be reappointed, or if Council decides not to reappoint the officer, Council shall appoint a search committee consisting of:

(i) in the case of the executive director: the past president (chair), a current member of Council, and a member of the Association resident in the Washington D.C. area who is familiar with scholarly, advocacy, and higher education association communities in the city; plus up to two others at the president’s option and with the approval of the executive committee.

(ii) in the case of the editor of the American Historical Review: the vice-president for research, a current or past member of the Board of Editors or a past member of the AHA Research Division, and two faculty members nominated by the journal’s host department or university. The committee will be co-chaired by the vice president for research and a member of the journal’s host department or university. Because the editor will typically be appointed to the faculty of the host department, the representatives of the AHA and the department will work toward a consensus candidate prior to submission to the Division

(iii) in the case of the controller: the president-elect (chair), a current member of Finance Committee, and the executive director.

(4) The Council shall, on nomination by the editor and in consultation with the Research Division, appoint an advisory Board of Editors of the American Historical Review to assist the editor. The advisory Board shall consist of twelve members appointed for staggered terms of three years. The executive director shall, ex officio, be a member of the advisory Board without vote.

Article V: Council

4. Bylaw pursuant to Article V, Section 1 (a): In the event a division vice president cannot complete his or her term, the Council will fill the vacancy with another member of the division.

5. Bylaw pursuant to Article V, Section 1(b) and Article VIII: The Council may fill any vacancy in its membership or in the membership of any elected committee by designating any member of the Association to serve as a member ad interim until replaced by a member elected in accordance with customary procedures at the next practicable annual election.

6. Bylaw pursuant to Article V, Section 2: All Council decisions will be made by majority vote unless otherwise specified.

7. Bylaw pursuant to Article V, Section 3 and Article VIII, Section 2: Whenever any vacancy shall occur in the membership of the Executive Committee or of the Finance Committee, the president may designate a member of the Council to serve ad interim as a member of the committee in question.

Article VI: Divisions

8. Bylaw pursuant to Article VI, Sections 1–4: The Research Division, the Teaching Division, and the Professional Division shall operate under the general direction of the Council. Under appropriate circumstances the Council may determine each division’s jurisdiction, general policies, and procedures.

Article VII: Business Meeting

9. Bylaws pursuant to Article VII, Sections 1–5:

(1) The Council shall prepare the agenda for the annual business meeting, which shall be available for distribution to the membership of the Association at the annual meeting.

(2) The president shall preside at the business meeting and be guided by Robert's Rules of Order. Official minutes of the business meeting shall be prepared, which shall include a record of all motions and their disposition, together with the votes cast thereon, when recorded.

(3) The Council may appoint an official parliamentarian who shall hold office for a three-year term. The parliamentarian shall advise and assist the president in the conduct of the business meeting, and shall perform such additional duties as are appropriate to the office.

(4) Any member of the Association may, subject to the following rules, present resolutions or other motions that introduce new business to the agenda of the annual business meeting.

(a) Such resolutions must be received in the office of the executive director not later than November 1 prior to the annual meeting, to allow time for publication. They must be in proper parliamentary form; must be signed by at least fifty members of the Association in good standing; must not be more than three hundred words in length including any introductory material; and must deal with a matter of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession.

(b) Resolutions submitted by the deadline, and meeting the criteria for consideration, shall be published in the December issue of Perspectives on History.

(c) The Council may decide on the priority of resolutions on the agenda, and may associate any resolution offered by a member with any item of business on the agenda.

(d) To ensure as far as possible the fair and equitable consideration of all member resolutions, the Council in preparing the agenda may, at its discretion, fix the duration of debate on any resolution.

(e) The annual business meeting may by a vote of two-thirds of the members present suspend Bylaw 9(4), except where otherwise provided in the constitution and bylaws of the Association.

(f) The business meeting, by a majority vote upon a motion by any member of the Association, may instruct the Council to place a subject upon the agenda for the following business meeting.

(5) No motion, resolution, or other business shall be passed by a division of the members at the annual business meeting unless there is present a quorum of one hundred members in good standing. A quorum of twenty-five members in good standing shall be sufficient for all other purposes.

Article VIII: Committees

10. Bylaw pursuant to Article VIII, Section 2:

(1) The executive director and controller shall serve as ex officio members of the Finance Committee.

(2) Bylaw pursuant to Article VIII, Section 2: Council shall appoint to the Finance Committee at least two individuals with financial expertise.

(3) Bylaw pursuant to Article VIII, Section 2: Council may appoint committees which shall report to the Finance Committee as it deems appropriate.

Article IX: Elections

11. Bylaws pursuant to Article IX, Section 1:

(1) The Nominating Committee shall nominate the incumbent president-elect as the sole candidate for the office of president, except when the office of the president-elect is vacant.

(a) If the office of president-elect becomes vacant prior to the final preparation of the annual ballot, the committee shall nominate two persons for the office of president, neither of whom shall be the incumbent president.

(b) If the president-elect succeeds to the office of the president in accordance with the provisions of Article IV, Section 3, that individual shall retain his or her prior status as the sole committee nominee for the office of president.

(2) The nominating committee shall nominate two persons for each elected office of the association, except in the case of the president as set forth in section (1) above.

(3) Whenever prospective vacancies of one year or more occur in the offices of elected Council members, vice-presidents, and members of the Nominating Committee, members of the Committee on Committees, the Nominating Committee shall, at its regular annual session, nominate two or more candidates for the unexpired term of any such office.  

12. Bylaws pursuant to Article IX, Sections 1–3:

(1) On behalf of the Nominating Committee, the executive director shall annually publish a "Nominations Announcement" in the October issue of Perspectives on History. The announcement shall list all Association positions for which elections are to be held in the forthcoming calendar year, and shall invite all members of the Association to submit to the executive director on or before January 15 any recommendations for nominations thereto.

(2) Immediately after January 15, the executive director shall submit to the Nominating Committee a list of all Association positions for which nominations are forthcoming, together with any instructions the Council may have thereto, and a list of all suggested nominations submitted by Association members on or before the previous December 15.

(3) On or before March 1, the Nominating Committee shall submit to the executive director its nominations for all positions for which elections are forthcoming. Thereafter, the executive director shall cause such nominations to be published as soon as possible at the Association’s web site, and in the April issue of Perspectives on History.  Both announcements will include instructions to the Association membership for additional nominations by petition. Such instructions shall include a requirement that all nominations by petition shall be received by the chair of the Nominating Committee on or before May 15 (Council amendment, May 1984). All nominations must be accompanied by certification of the willingness of the nominee to serve if elected.

(4) Ballots, including appropriate biographical matter shall be distributed to the membership on or before May 20 for return not later than July 15. Ballots received after July 15 will not be counted.

(5) All persons elected to Association office in the annual election shall assume office at the conclusion of the next annual business meeting.

(6) Any ballot distributed to the membership may be delivered by mail or electronic means.

Article X: Amendments

None

Article XI: Bylaws

None

Article XII: Interim Procedures

None

Most recent change in Constitution:  January 2008

Most recent change in Bylaws:  December 9, 2014