News & Advocacy
By providing leadership on current issues, highlighting the work of our members, and bringing the discipline into the public conversation, the American Historical Association is history's most influential and indispensable advocate. Our large membership enhances our influence in legislative and policy arenas, not just in Washington, but wherever we encounter issues regarding access to documents, academic freedom, discrimination, and other challenges affecting the work of historians. At a time of widespread budget cuts, AHA is one of the most important sources of advocacy, reminding policymakers of the importance of continuing to fund the institutions on which history in the United States depends.
AHA Urges Investigation of Destruction of Archives in El Salvador
On January 27, AHA President Jan Goldstein and Executive Director James Grossman submitted a letter, reproduced here, to David Ernesto Morales Cruz, procurador para la defense de los derechos humanos (attorney for the defense of human rights) for the government of El Salvador.
The letter concerns a November 14, 2013, break-in at the offices of the Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niňas y Niňos Desaparecidos (Association for Searching for Missing Children), in which computers were stolen and archival materials burned. The association was founded in 1994 as a nongovernmental organization devoted to locating children who disappeared during the 1980-1992 civil war in El Salvador. The organization collected records on 1,200 missing children; 80 percent of its archives were destroyed in the break-in. There has been speculation that the incident was connected to an upcoming case before the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador challenging the constitutionality of the country's general amnesty law, which prevents prosecutions for human rights violations committed during the civil war.
Making the Case: The Many Venues for Historians’ Advocacy
Last month, I introduced this column with a query about the nature of value. The issue on the table was President Obama's speech on higher education and the policy framework underlying it. Back in January, I raised questions about an initiative in Florida to price public university tuition according to the "value" a given major provided the state's economy. At the risk of beating a dead (if valuable) horse, I revisit those themes together here, this time with attention not only to students and degrees, but also to the broader landscape of historical work.