From the AHA Activities column of the January 2006 Perspectives

Report of the 2005 AHA Nominating Committee

Kenneth Pomeranz, January 2006

Barbara WeinsteinOn behalf of the Nominating Committee, I am pleased to report the results of the 2005 election for AHA offices. The committee is extremely grateful to all the candidates who agreed to stand for Association elective office and committee positions despite their having other obligations. The Association depends for its continued well being upon the willingness of its members to serve. 

Results of the 2005 election follow (elected candidates are indicated with an asterisk).

President (1-year term)

*Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa (U.S.: women’s, legal and intellectual, early Republic)

President-elect (1-year term)

Eric Van Young, University of California at San Diego (colonial and 19th-century Mexico, Latin America)

*Barbara Weinstein, University of Maryland at College Park (modern Latin America, Brazil)

Vice President, Research Division (3-year term)

Lynn Hollen Lees, University of Pennsylvania (Britain, British Empire, European economic and social, world)

*Teofílo Ruiz, University of California at Los Angeles (medieval, early modern Spain)

Council (3-year terms)

Slot 1

*Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University (American labor and the comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of women and gender, the history of 20th-century social policy)

Earl Lewis, Emory University (U.S., African American, comparative, U.S. South)

Slot 2

Kate Merkel-Hess, University of California at Irvine (modern China)

*Elise S. Lipkowitz, Northwestern University (Europe, history of science, Atlantic world)

Division Representatives (3-year terms)

Professional

*Jane Hathaway, Ohio State University (Middle East before the 19th century, Egypt, Yemen, world)

Cynthia Radding, University of New Mexico (colonial and early national Latin America, Mexico)

Research

Jan Ellen Lewis, Rutgers University-Newark (U.S. to the 1830s; gender, race, and political thought)

*Nick Salvatore, Cornell University (20th-century African American, 19th- and 20th-century social, history and biography)

Teaching

Cecil Barden (Bard) Keeler, Palmetto Ridge High School, Naples, Florida, and Florida International University (Atlantic, world, diplomatic and international)

*Allison Kay Ivey, Kealing Middle School, Austin, Texas (philosophy and the Founding Fathers, slavery in America and social movements [abolitionists, Great Awakening, women’s suffrage] in 19th-century America)

Committee on Committees (3-year terms)

Slot 1

*Ruth Mazo Karras, University of Minnesota (medieval Europe, women, gender, sexuality)

Robert C. Stacey, University of Washington (medieval)

Slot 2

Peter A. Coclanis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (U.S. economic and business, colonial, international economic, Southeast Asia)

*Daniel Littlefield, University of South Carolina (American colonial)

Nominating Committee (3-year terms)

Slot 1

*Jan Golinski, University of New Hampshire (history of science; intellectual; historiography)

Thomas H. Broman, University of Wisconsin-Madison (18th-century science, early modern medicine)

Slot 2

Jeffrey Gould, Indiana University (20th-century Central America, ethnic and agrarian, collective memory)

*Jane Gilmer Landers, Vanderbilt University (Latin American colonial history, Africans in the Americas, Atlantic, frontier)

Slot 3

Donald Quataert, Binghamton University (Ottoman Empire, modern Middle East, labor and economic, world)

*Evelyn Rawski, University of Pittsburgh (China)

Election Process and Results

Ballot materials (printed ballots or information and reminders about online voting) were sent to 14,588 members; 4,320 members cast ballots before the AHA constitution deadline of November 1. This was 1,845 more than in the 2004 election and 29.6 percent of the total receiving ballots. This was the highest level of participation in an AHA election in more than two decades. As a point of comparison, in a recent survey of seven major associations of the approximate size as the AHA, the range of election participation rates varied from 11 to 50 percent, with a median of 24 percent.

The 2005 election marked the first year that AHA members had the opportunity to vote online to elect the Association’s officers. The AHA selected Election Services Corporation (ESC) of Garden City, New York, to prepare and distribute election ballots to AHA members and to receive, validate, and tally the votes. Since this was a significant change in the Association’s traditional balloting process, members who furnished valid e-mail addresses and agreed to receive messages were asked via e-mail poll their preference for online or paper ballot. 3,036 members opted to vote online. The remainder of AHA members received paper ballots, either because they did not have a valid e-mail address to receive the preference survey, did not respond to the survey, or opted to receive a paper ballot. Of the total number of members voting (4,320), 70 percent did so online.

All AHA members who opted to vote electronically received an e-mail message with a unique computer-generated user name and password, good only for the online balloting system. Once successfully logged in, members could read the election rules and link to the ballot, which were also linked to candidate biographies. Members who lacked a valid e-mail address, or who requested the paper ballot, were mailed a paper ballot no later than September 1. The procedures for paper ballots were essentially the same as in previous years: after filling out the ballot, members returned it to ESC, which entered the information into the system. In theory, a member could receive both an e-mail and a paper ballot. Since the system tracked whether someone voted, separate from their specific votes, the system accepted the first vote received and entered into the system from that voter (but without identifying the specific voter).

Individuals who renewed their membership or joined the AHA for the first time after the initial mailing of ballots were also allowed to vote in the election. Anyone who renewed or joined before October 17 was able to vote online or to request a paper ballot. Although no paper ballots were mailed after October 17 (because the remaining time would be insufficient for members to receive and return the ballots to ESC before the constitutional deadline of November 1), those who renewed or joined before October 17 could vote online until midnight of November 1.

Committee Deliberations

The Nominating Committee met February 5–7, 2005, in Washington, D.C. This was the ninth year that the committee had met from Saturday to Monday. Although some telephone calls had to be made by the chair after the meeting had adjourned, this schedule allowed us to reach nominees more easily, either by telephone or e-mail, since it ends on a workday. However, being unable to leave on Sunday night—even though all that is usually left by then is waiting for some phone calls to be returned—is inconvenient for many members, and the number of contacts that actually needed to be made on Monday generally seems to be small enough for one person to handle. It was therefore felt that the committee could adjourn earlier as long as it selected sufficient back-up candidates to be contacted if some of the people reached on Monday declined to run. Consequently, the committee elected to modify this schedule somewhat for the 2006 meeting, and will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, work all day Saturday and adjourn by mid-afternoon on Sunday. The next meeting is scheduled for February 4–5, 2006, and the chair of the 2006 Nominating Committee is Clarence E. Walker (Univ. of California at Davis).

Executive Director Arnita Jones, ex officio member of the committee, joined its deliberations on Saturday afternoon to review Association matters relevant to nominations, offices and responsibilities, and elections. As we have in the past, we discussed the concern that many younger historians working in Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American history are not members of the organization. This failure to join becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, since nonmembers cannot run for an elected office of the AHA. Yet the membership of the AHA, as well as the program of the annual meeting and the contents of the American Historical Review, have become considerably more diverse over the past 20 years and it was generally felt that many of those who do not join are relying on perceptions that are now quite outdated. As it did last year, the committee would like to encourage all scholars to consider joining early on in their careers so that the organization might become even more inclusive in the future.

A somewhat different problem concerns what appear to be declining numbers of scholars who work on earlier periods of history (roughly, pre-1500). As the field becomes predominantly early modern and modern, name recognition issues make it harder to have well-balanced elections between modern historians and any but the best known people working on earlier periods. On the other hand, guaranteeing positions for historians of medieval Europe, for instance, would inevitably compete with trying to ensure the broadest possible geographic representation. We have no solution to recommend, but hope that future committees will pay attention to this issue.

As in the past, the committee was very concerned that all AHA members should have input into the nominating process. Every year the Nominating Committee issues several appeals to the membership at large for nominees. These appeals also stress the committee’s commitment to diversity of all kinds. In addition to soliciting nominees in an open letter published in the January 2005 Perspectives (and also posted on H-Announce), this year’s chair again urged committee members to poll as many of their colleagues and associates as possible for nominees and to gather vitae before our February meeting. A number of AHA members responded to the open letter with suggestions; others, with expressions of willingness to serve. Generally speaking this was successful—we had a large number of names of potential nominees by the time we convened and had to pass over many recommended candidates who would have been excellent choices. The committee also retained and reviewed suggestions and vitae of people considered over the previous five years. The nominations we received reflected the diversity of our organization with respect to gender, race, type of institution, field, and rank. The committee continues to be concerned, nonetheless, that more members do not suggest candidates to the committee or nominate themselves. We were also dismayed to discover that a number of historians whose names were put forward were not, or were no longer, members of the AHA. And, as apparently often happens, there was some difficulty generating names for the graduate student position on the Council (though we were very pleased with the pair we ultimately nominated). Committee members inevitably know relatively few graduate students at other institutions (especially among those who will remain in graduate school for a few more years), and returning members cannot nominate graduate students from their own institution without violating our rule against having more than one person from the same institution serving in elected office at the same time. The next time this seat comes up, it may make sense to make a special targeted appeal to the membership for nominations.

The committee wishes to thank the staff of the Association, and especially Assistant Director Sharon K. Tune, for her consistent outstanding work and her expert guidance and advice, as well as her good cheer. Previous Nominating Committee reports have noted how she has helped each year’s committee to sort through our very complex processes, and we cannot emphasize enough that this was true this year as well. Finally, I would like to thank the other members of the committee and the members of the past two Nominating Committees. Their good humor, hard work, good judgment, and broad knowledge of the profession made it possible for us to work swiftly and effectively, and enjoy doing so. To have worked with them was a great opportunity.

—Kenneth Pomeranz (Univ. of California at Irvine) was the chair of the 2005 Nominating Committee.