The AHA Review Board: Final Report
The proposal for a Review Board grew out of what many saw to be the critical issues faced by the association in the late 1960s. During the early months of 1970, R. R. Palmer, then president of the association, held discussions with many members land solicited their ideas for the reform and revitalization of the organization. From one of these discussions emerged some proposals for change and for a full-fledged review of association affairs. These proposals were subsequently printed in the November 1970 AHA Newsletter. In September 1970, the Council of the association authorized such a review by a resolution which created this Review Board and mandated its broad investigation:
Resolved, that a review board be created to investigate and recommend changes in the organization and functions of the American Historical Association. The review board shall be named by the president of the association from nominations received from members of the association, and shall report directly to the membership at large. The review board shall consider, among others, such matters as the governance and committee structure of the association, the nature and conduct of the annual meeting, and the feasibility of decentralizing some aspects of the association's activities. The review board shall be empowered to name a staff associate to assist its inquiry.
Following procedures indicated in this resolution and in a further resolution passed at the 197o business meeting (AHA Newsletter, 9, March 1971: 1518) Joseph R. Strayer, president of the association for 1971, named the members of the Review Board in the spring of 1971. The board met for the first time in Washington in June 1971, and has since met in plenary or committee sessions eleven times for periods ranging from one to three days. During two years of meetings, each member of the Review Board has from time to time taken on individual responsibilities, but this final report results from the joint effort and full deliberation of the entire board and has the full agreement of all its members.
We have benefited throughout our work from direct discussions with many people, including present and past officers of the association, present and past members of the Council and committees, and all members of the professional staff of the Washington office. We sent to the entire membership through the AHA Newsletter of March 1972, and had distributed at the annual meeting in 1971, a request for information and suggestions about the course and state of the AHA:
In order to assure a thorough review of the purposes and functions of the American Historical Association, the AHA Review Board wishes to have members' observations about the present state of the association and their suggestions for any alterations in its direction and operations which they think necessary or desirable. The following questions are those which reflect the fundamental concerns which we have been discussing to date but which do not by any means limit our considerations. We would very much appreciate your views about, and answers to, these questions, along with any other comments you may have about these or other matters.
In your judgment, is it necessary for the AHA to undertake reorganization in order to make itself more responsive to changing professional needs and opportunities? If so, what would you propose?
Many members of the association have been raising questions about the training of graduate students. Should the AHA concern itself with the nature and quality of graduate programs? Should the AHA concern itself more with options other than teaching and research open to holders of graduate degrees in history?
What should the AHA do to promote and improve undergraduate teaching of history in the United States?
What should the AHA do to promote and improve the teaching of history in primary and secondary schools?
What should the AHA be doing to promote historical scholarship that it is not now doing?
What groups of people interested in history should be reached and served by the association? Are there any groups not now served by the association which might benefit by membership and participation in AHA affairs and whose membership might benefit the AHA?
If you are a member of other professional organizations (such as the Organization of American Historians, the African Studies Association, the Society for French Historical Studies, and the Conference of British Historians), what services does or should the AHA provide which are not offered by these other groups? What services do you find redundant?
Should the annual meeting of the association in any way be altered so as to affect the form and content of its various official functions (such as the program of sessions, job placement, and the business meeting)? Is the present meeting date satisfactory?
Finally, if you were arranging the priorities of the association, how would you do so?
We received about forty replies to our request for information.
We sent an inquiry to the officers of twenty-five other historical associations, soliciting their views on interassociation relations. To this inquiry we received twenty replies. We held four hours of panel hearings at the annual meeting in New York in December 1971. Each member of the Review Board has met or corresponded with many other historians, member and nonmember, at colleges and universities of all kinds, in secondary schools, and at archives and historical societies in order to learn their views and gain the benefit of their suggestions. Furthermore, we considered and prepared a questionnaire with the intention of developing a professional profile of the membership and of determining members' involvement in the association's activities, but because our questionnaire was greeted by administrative skepticism, it was abandoned.
The preliminary report of the Review Board appeared in the November 1972 AHA Newsletter. In order to benefit from members' reactions to this report before issuing a final report, the Review Board arranged and held a two-hour open meeting for the general membership of the association during the 1972 annual meeting. Roughly five hundred people attended that meeting and about twenty people had the opportunity to present their views and the views of others. Moreover, the Letter of Transmittal which accompanied the preliminary report invited members' comments on the report. The Review Board received about sixty replies to this request, and Review Board members subsequently benefited by additional correspondence and conversations with many other AHA members.
This final report is the result of extensive deliberations since December 1972 in which the Review Board has carefully considered all responses to its preliminary report. As a careful examination of this final report will reveal, we have been led to revise some of our initial proposals in consequence of many members' suggestions. We are confident that the principal scheme embodied in that earlier version has been strengthened by these changes and that our general intention has been made clearer. This report, of course, does not and cannot represent and incorporate every view expressed to us. Our aim instead has been to make an independent assessment of all views and proposals in order to present the entire membership with an analysis of the current state of the AHA and some suggestions for change and improvement.
We will not repeat here the first pages of our preliminary report dealing with the present state of the association. But it seems wise to reiterate the assumptions that then, as now, have shaped the main thrust of our recommendations and that appear, from all we have learned, to represent a common ground on which a substantial majority of the association's membership can stand.
That the proposals addressed to the Review Board have often been contradictory clearly suggests that there is no single formula which can weld the association into a unified entity. We can only expect full agreement on the broad assertion that the association has a set of functions which serve its general purpose, stated in its original charter from Congress, of promoting historical studies. Obviously, different emphases are bound to be urged in the pursuit of that objective. This makes necessary, in turn, a broader definition of the association's mandate. We need to create a structure within which different interests can be accommodated. We need, in other words, to develop an organization that is both open and flexible enough to encourage many ways of carrying on historical study.
If our national organization cannot be significantly improved, then some AHA members have suggested that we should not continue to maintain the AHA as a single association of historians, but instead encourage the substitution of a whole series of societies devoted to the pursuit of different interests and styles. In rejecting this view, the Review Board accepts the proposition that there is value in a national association for history and that it is worth a major effort to reorganize it so that it may better serve its constituencies. We believe that most members of the association support that proposition.
We also recognize that the AHA cannot be all things to all historians. But in our discussions we have steadily found ourselves confronted with three broad areas of concern, the "scholarly," the "pedagogical," and the "professional." The result is our proposal for three divisions in the structure of the AHA. While we believe, however, that the AHA must continue to devote much of its attention to professional matters, we are convinced that it should remain essentially a nonprofessional society, that is, in legal terms a tax-exempt charitable foundation operated primarily for educational purposes (and so classified under the federal tax laws as a 504(c)(3) organization). We also strongly believe that the words of the original Act of Incorporation ("for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical manuscripts, and for kindred purposes in the interest of American history, and of history in America") ought still to define the principal purposes of the organization. As we interpret these words, they are not to be taken narrowly as limiting the association's interests to research. Rather, they clearly imply concern with the dissemination of historical knowledge in many forms, whether by the teaching of history, supporting the professional requirements of historians, or facilitating the conduct of historical research. We believe that the membership of the association shares our conviction that a pluralistic definition of the association's purposes is essential at this time. We recognize that there are limitations of time, of finances, and of priorities (as well as constraints imposed by the status of the association as a tax-exempt organization) that will always require choices to be made among the legitimate functions of the association. We are convinced, however, that too often such choices have been made by accident or by default and suggest that a fundamental reorganization of the association will help us to make such choices more systematically and more rationally.
The Review Board feels that the association ought to give more attention to the quality of graduate programs, the question of employment for historians, the assurance of equal opportunity among historians, and the integrity of historical scholarship. We do not believe, however, that the association can be an accrediting agency; it can only propose standards and models, not impose them. Neither do we believe that it can be a job placement bureau; it can rather facilitate the exchange of employment information and clarify issues relating to the economic status of the profession. Nor, in our judgment, can it be a hearing board on matters of discrimination or academic freedom; it can only support the efforts of other agencies, through which such matters should be pursued. This statement is not intended to indicate that these issues are of anything but paramount importance; it means only that the association cannot and should not duplicate activities that belong most appropriately to the schools and colleges or to the AAUP. Similarly, the Review Board has concluded that the role of teaching must be stressed by the association, even though our organization's part in promoting effective teaching of history will often be indirect.
If a unified AHA is to continue in existence, then two attitudes are requisite. Members must accept differences of opinion as necessary and desirable; and they must agree on a structure that will guarantee that the association has a viable means of airing such differences, debating priorities, planning policies, and administering programs. In order to maintain the association and at the same time to move it forward, the membership must recognize and come to terms with the reality of the complex problems the association confronts. The financial crisis is grave. The staff is faced with an increasingly demanding load of work and is operating under difficult conditions and limitations of space and resources. It has done extremely well under circumstances that must not be permitted to continue. The Council, our association's board of governors, has acted decisively to deal with structural and administrative issues; the Council, too, is responding to increasingly burdensome demands.
The association has arrived at a time that compels it to take account of, and to adapt its structures and policies to, the conditions and opportunities created by past growth, present needs, and future strength. There is much that it can do. The Review Board has no magic formulas that will make it easy, no solution to some of the most urgent questions before the profession. It has attempted to devise an instrument through which the association can be revitalized and can find an effective means of discussing and dealing with the major issues of concern to historians. It is our hope that the structures we propose will provide that context. It is our intention that we continue to have a single association, with three internal groupings which give scope to the articulation of different interests while retaining the flexibility and sense of cohesion that will preserve the unity of the whole. Finally, in the policy recommendations that follow, the Review Board has set out a series of suggestions which it proposes not as absolute prescriptions but as a set of aspirations and a possible agenda for the appropriate groups within a restructured association.
According to its 1889 Act of Incorporation from the Congress of the United States, the American Historical Association is chartered "for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical manuscripts, and for kindred purposes in the interest of American history, and of history in America." As such, this charter appears to provide much latitude for the association to encourage, enliven, and protect historical learning and its many kindred activities in teaching, research, and publication.
Throughout the last few years, many members have called upon the association to take a more aggressive stance on public issues affecting the study and teaching of history and to defend more vigorously the rights and interests of historians. Such calls raise some vexing questions of policy, finance, and law. Elsewhere in this report we discuss the financial alternatives facing the association (see section 11). In what follows here we try to respond to members' wishes to learn more about the legal and tax options that the association possesses. We also present our own judgments, based upon informed legal opinion, as to the best course open to the AHA. A full awareness of legal and tax opportunities and risks is essential at all levels of the association as programs are debated and goals set.
The American Historical Association is a tax-exempt charitable organization, founded and operated primarily for educational purposes. Specifically, it has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, for purposes of which "educational" is defined as the instruction of individuals to develop or improve their capacities or as the instruction of the public on subjects useful and beneficial to the community. Furthermore, in October 1970 the association received classification as an organization that is not a private foundation; that is, it is a public charity.
The association's status as a public charity distinguishes it from a business and professional league organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. A 501(c)(3) organization is prohibited from using a substantial portion of its resources for legislative activity and for the benefit of its members as distinguished from the public. A 501(c)(6) organization can both lobby more extensively and promote its members' individual economic interests. For tax purposes, organizations operating under both sections are tax-exempt, and dues to both are deductible for professional historians; but only in the case of a 501(c)(3) organization are contributions and bequests deductible by the donor against federal income and estate taxes.
From the association's status under Section 501(c)(3), a number of important consequences follow. A tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization may not devote a "substantial" part of its "time and effort" to influence legislation or to promote members' individual economic interests. Although this allows some leeway, there is no way of knowing precisely what is "substantial." A single court has ruled that "substantial" in the case of political activities means more than roughly five per cent of its time and effort, a ruling which is generally followed by educational organizations operating under Section 501(c)(3). It is agreed moreover that functions such as those carried on under the present ad hoc Committee on the Rights of Historians or the Committee on Women Historians do not count against the substantiality test because they are within the exempt activities of the organizationalthough this will always depend upon what such committees do.
Under the law and current IRS regulations, "lobbying" has a limited and very specific meaning. It means a direct approach to legislators urging them to vote for specific legislation or efforts to persuade others so to urge their legislators. This kind of lobbying on any large scale on the part of the AHA is inadvisable. However, providing elected officials and the public with the results of nonpartisan study and research falls outside the definition of lobbying. The very object of the AHA as a public charity designed for educational purposes is to provide evidence and to offer arguments that assist the public in making its own judgments on public issues. A careful regard for balance and accuracy must of course be maintained by the association and by those who speak in its name when information provided might be construed as an effort to promote a specific legislative act. Also, inasmuch as the main purpose of the AHA is to promote historical studies and kindred activities, whatever helps to promote the public interestrather than the private interests of its membersis a permissible association activity. Such activities would include attempts to influence the direction of the Bicentennial celebration along more educational and less commercial lines, or to speak up for the claims of history in secondary school curricula and on national social studies examinations. In sum, so long as the association's efforts are directed toward promoting the integrity and value of historical learning before the public the association seems to be within the law and beyond jeopardy to its tax status. This would be true even if achieving the objectives the AHA seeks to promote would ultimately require legislative action.
What do these considerations imply for the work of this association?
As a public charity the association has considerably greater latitude of action than a private foundation under Section 501(c)(3). Officers of the association and members who speak on its behalf as historians can offer expert testimony embodying nonpartisan research and study before legislatures and Congress. If such testimony is invited by legislators rather than requested by the association, so much the better. Moreover, the distribution of the results of nonpartisan and objective research on such matters as the status of historians, their work arrangements and conditions, their compensation and their rights, the state of history in the schools, or the kinds of texts in use, is permitted because it thereby instructs the public on subjects useful to the individual and beneficial to the community. Likewise, our informal employment services and the roster of women historians do not endanger our legal standing so long as they are open to nonmembers, as well as members, for no or nominal feeswhich, wisely, they have beenand so long as they are designed primarily to serve the general welfare and the public good of history and its kindred interests, rather than the private economic interests of our members alone.
It thus appears that the AHA, without serious danger to its legal and tax-exempt status, can be quite energetic in the promotion of history and its concerns before the general public. We urge, as have many others, that it be so. Bearing in mind the association's legal constraints, its officers and staff should make better known to citizens and their public servants in government the value of history and the concerns of historians. The association should continue to provide to all member and nonmember historians appropriate information and services in support of historical learning and its related activities. When a proposed course of action raises a question as to the association's legal or tax status, advice of counsel should be sought and, if necessary, a ruling requested from the Internal Revenue Service. Moreover, the officers and staff of the association should continue to keep informed about the laws and regulations governing the activities of 501(c)(3) organizations and provide such information to all historians through association publications.
Our recommendations assume that the association will remain a 501(c)(3) organization. Some have suggested that the association be reorganized as a 501(c)(6) organizationthat is, as a business and professional leagueto allow the association and its members more latitude to engage in activities, such as the promotion of unionization, of direct economic benefit to members. We do not think this necessary or desirable.
First, such a change in status would be a departure from our commitment to serve all the people and history as a discipline. It would instead lead to a new concern for serving the economic interests and activities of individual members, for which the AHA lacks charter authorization. Second, under its Act of Incorporation and present tax classification, the association already possesses considerable latitude to promote history and to engage in professional activities within the substantiality rule without compromising its status. Third, for the association to qualify as a 501(c)(6) organization would entail great administrative difficulty and the following disabilities: an end to the tax exemption of gifts and bequests to the endowment fund, and to the staff's participation in TIAA-CREF programs (which would seriously impede staff recruiting); and the great difficulty of further attracting foundation grants. Finally, to qualify as a business or professional league under Section 501(c)(6), the association would then be required to be composed of people having common business interests, to be organized to promote those interests, and to direct its work to the improvement of one or more lines of business. Such requirements would be difficult for the association to meet, composed as it now is of professional, student, and lay historians.
One alternative to reclassification as a 501(c)(6) organization would be to spin off a separate 501(c)(6) organization, distinct from the parent 501(c)(3) association, for the purpose of lobbying and defending the professional (as distinct from the educational) interests of historian members. Under the law, however, such a professional organization would have to be separate in premises, form, operation, personnel, and financial support from the present association, which in turn could not exercise control or supervision without endangering its own status. Such an action would require a much higher level of financial support than historians now seem willing to provide and would cause difficult administrative and financial problems. For these reasons we have also rejected this option.
In short, the course the AHA should adopt is the promotion of the value of history, and of historians' commitment to the public interest, within the legal and tax boundaries which now exist. How is this to be done in an era of eroding historical consciousness? Priority must be given to a vigorous effort to use the very considerable scope which the tax law now allows in order to bring before the publicand especially before its representatives in legislatures and education departmentsthe claims of history to a central place in learning and education. Such promotion of historical studies and its kindred purposes has been carried on in Washington, often with positive results. But decisions affecting historical studies are more often made away from the Potomac; and it should be a foremost concern of elected and appointed officers of the association to develop means to make known members' ability to offer information and counsel to state and local educational policymakers; to maintain a roster of those willing to offer such expert testimony; and to monitor occasions when such testimony will be desirable. Only in such, ways will history's traditional place in the schools be regained. And only in such ways will the traditional role of history in providing knowledge of our world and ourselves be preserved.
Throughout this report we have assumed that recently altered procedures for the election of Council members will serve to make that body more representative of the membership as a whole. Our proposals for constitutional change are in part intended to insure that the Nominating Committee or any substantial group of members will have the opportunity to recommend to the membership as a whole as broad a selection of councillors as possible. If the general changes in the association which we propose are adopted, Council members will quite obviously have to be men and women who devote a significant amount of time to the work of the association and who will take their responsibilities as chief policy makers as seriously as possible. The qualities of good judgment and leadership which are essential in members of the Council are to be found, we are convinced, among historians who practice their craft in a great variety of institutions and with widely different emphases. In the final analysis it depends upon the actions of the membership as a whole whether their councillors will be fully representative of the membership or not.
The effectiveness of the AHA depends largely upon the quality of its central administration. The chief staff officers must be men and women who can exercise real leadership in suggesting policies to the association and in devising appropriate means for implementing them. They must have genuine rapport with a wide spectrum of the membership and the flexibility to work under conditions which appear to be increasingly complex and often difficult. These officers must be compensated sufficiently to make the AHA competitive for the best qualified men and women from colleges, universities, foundations, and state or federal agencies. They must be rewarded as well as are their counterparts in comparable associations and organizations. For the most part they are teachers and scholars who have chosen to exchange the relative security of college or university careers for the more tenuous conditions of administrative duties. They should not be disadvantaged by that choice. Only by appropriate compensation is the association likely to attract or keep vigorous and imaginative leaders for its top staff positions. To be excessively conservative in this respect is to risk making small savings at great cost.
The Council, in our judgment, must develop detailed written job descriptions for the key posts of executive director, editor of the Review, and, in the light of our constitutional recommendations, controller. Beyond that, we consider it the responsibility of those staff officers to work out similar written descriptions of all other staff positions and relationships for approval and implementation by the Council. Here, therefore, we make some suggestions concerning the duties of executive director, editor, and controller, taking it for granted that the Council will more systematically address itself to the framework of an effective system of managing the association's affairs.
The executive director occupies the chief executive position of the association. For this reason we have sought to give this position a new title more commensurate with the duties involved. The executive director should above all else have the vision and administrative skills necessary to lead our complex organization with a sound sense of its mission and a grasp of detail that makes him or her fully competent to implement association policy with energy and clarity. He or she should be free to have access to all members of the association, to generate ideas and policies concerning all issues, and to urge actions and departures upon all appropriate groups within the association. This official should be the chief staff officer of the Council, of its Executive and Finance Committees, and of all associationwide committees. As principal operating officer, he or she should be in charge of the operations of all association offices. He or she should prepare the budget and have direct responsibility for the financial administration of the association's business under the direction of the Council and with the help of appropriate staff and the new Finance Committee that we propose. The executive director should serve as liaison officer between the association and other organizations and agencies, represent the elected officers of the AHA in responding to the concerns of members of the association, and in short carry out as thoroughly as possible all appropriate tasks assigned by the Council.
The editor of the American Historical Review should have jurisdiction not only over the scholarly contents of the publication, but also over its production, its fiscal management, and the direction of its office staff. As suggested elsewhere he or she should serve as a nonvoting member of the Committee on Publications, make nominations to the Council for members of the Review's Board of Editors, and serve as the publisher of all association publications. The editor should be available for consultation with the Council, the three divisions, and the various association committees whenever the editor's assistance or wide acquaintance with the membership would be of benefit to them.
The controller should monitor and control expenditures as budgeted and report regularly to the Finance Committee of the Council. He or she should have the independent obligation to inform the officers and the Council, should the occasion arise, of budgetary limitations as they are reached. The controller should regularly report projections of income, their relationship to actual income, and expenditures to the Finance Committee. He or she should annually review and report to the Council on staff operations, with an eye to maximizing service and minimizing costs. The controller should regularly review and report to the Council on the investments of the association. The controller should have the responsibility of denying expenditures which exceed budgetary limitations unless the Council or the Finance Committee of the Council give written authorization. It should be the controller's responsibility to analyze all proposals for significant changes in policies to determine their probable impact on the general financial situation of the association and to report such findings to the Council (see section 11).
Finally, as noted above, we propose the creation of a new Finance Committee of the Council to act as a watchdog over the financial affairs of the association, set general guidelines on budget matters, discuss and help to prepare budgets which reflect the priorities of the association, make recommendations regarding the investment policies and income needs of the association, and meet at least once a year with the trustees. In our view, the implementation of our recommendations for the Finance Committee, and for a controller reporting directly to the Council, obviates the necessity for a treasurer. The association has been extraordinarily well served by its voluntary treasurers, but, as in other parts of this report, we are concerned with providing a structure within which permanent officers can contribute most effectively on the basis of systematic management procedures.
The committee system we propose is structured to accommodate the objectives set forth in this report and is based upon the following considerations. First, concerted efforts must be made to ensure that the committees are representative of the varied interests and concerns of the association's membership. Second, participation on committees should be widely extended so that members from previously underrepresented institutionssmall colleges, junior and community colleges, secondary schools, archives, museums, historical societieswill be involved. Third, all committees should be accountable to the executive director for their operations and should be responsible for policy decisions to the Council. Fourth, committee work should be adequately budgeted by the Council, and each committee should receive the necessary staff assistance from the Washington office.
A. Divisional Committees
We recommend that each division proposed in Article vi of the constitution be the exclusive and continuing concern of a strong standing committee so that the division will become a major unit in the structure of the association. Each such committee should be responsible to the Council. Each committee should be empowered, with the consent of the Council, to create its own subcommittees which should be staffed in part with persons who are not members of the Divisional Committee. Our intention hereas in other proposalsis to ensure that the talents of as many members as possible be discovered and used.
Each Divisional Committee should be composed of the vice-president of the division who would be chairman, one councillor appointed by the president, and three elected members serving staggered three-year terms. The three elected members should be elected by the entire membership of the association from among candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee. The Divisional Committees should either absorb the functions of now existing committees of the association or take over supervision of these committees as now constituted. Each committee should report to members of the association in open session at the annual meeting and should prepare a full report of its deliberations and actions for annual publication both in the Newsletter and the Annual Report.
B. Association-Wide Committees
1. The Committee on Committees
This committee should recommend to the Council the names of members selected to fill vacancies on other association-wide committees and should regularly review the number, size, and scope of all existing committees. The committee should consist of nine members. Of these, two should be selected for one-year terms by each divisional committee so that the Committee on Committees would be composed of persons reflecting a reasonable balance of the varied interests served by the association. In addition, the president of the association, the executive director, and the editor of the AHR should be nonvoting members.
The existing Committee on Committees has responded well to the changing size and composition of the membership in its search for willing appointees. But knowledge of the membership gained in the normal course of professional life is no substitute for an open and deliberate canvass for appointees. Therefore, we urge that, each year, the Committee on Committees solicit nominations through the columns of the Newsletter and consider volunteers for appointment to other committees.
2. The Standing Program Committee
The standing Program Committee is composed of six members, each serving staggered three-year terms, and the following nonvoting members: the president, the president-elect, the executive director, and one staff member. We propose that this committee remain in its present form and that, as has recently been the case, the chairman of the ad hoc Program Committee be chosen from among the committee members. We also urge that the staff member assigned to this committee be a person charged with overall responsibility in the Washington office for arrangements for the annual meeting. (On the ad hoc Program Committee, see section 9.)
3. Publications Committee
See section 8 below.
4. Other Association-wide Committees
In this section we make no attempt to list all the committees the association may require for the conduct of its business. We have concentrated upon the major new committees, the establishment of which we consider important for the future development of the AHA. We have made no reference to such committees as those on the Harmsworth Professorship or on International Historical Activities. And since the Council is now considering modifications in the purpose and structure of the Prize Committees, we see no purpose in making recommendations about prizes here.
In this section, the Review Board makes a recommendation that the AHA create three internal divisions. It must be clearly understood that this recommendation is not intended to separate members into three distinct groups but is meant rather to identify three fundamental concerns of our historical society. Some members may be expected, in accordance with their interests, to concern themselves primarily with the work of one or another of the three divisions; others may be equally interested in the work of all three. But in no case will there be memberships in the divisions. Nor does anything which we propose here mean to imply that the concerns of teaching, of research, and of the profession are independent. Rather, we have been concerned to make the association more responsive to the varying interests of its members and to be more accountable to them for its operations, while retaining the commitment to the principles of the interdependence of teaching, research, and professional life.
A. The Research Division
Traditionally, the encouragement of research and scholarship has been the major concern of the AHA, and its contribution over the years to that end has been rich and distinguished. The importance of this activity and the desirability of its continuation need no elaboration or justification here.
The Review Board intends that the Research Division provide means to facilitate the varied research activities that concern historians in America. It should determine priorities for the association's encouragement and support of research in particular areas (such as visual, oral, and quantitative history and the history of minorities) and in the use of new and promising tools of research. Under the jurisdiction of the Research Division should fall those matters which have in the past been the concern of such committees as those on Quantitative Data in History, American-East Asian Relations, Documentary and TV Films, and Information Services. If present plans of the association to revive the Writings on American History have not been brought to fruition by the time the Research Division is activated, the division should re-explore, in cooperation with the Publications Committee, the feasibility of reviving and updating this series.
Recognizing the association's concern with the preservation and management of private, local, state, and national archives, the division should provide policy guidance for staff liaison with the directors of important archival collections. It should coordinate the association's relationships with the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Department of State, and the Smithsonian Institution. It should oversee the association's participation in the American Historical Association-Organization of American Historians-Society of American Archivists Joint Committee on Historians and Archives. It should also undertake to insure equality of opportunity for historians to pursue their research in archives and to encourage timely declassification of documents. Moreover, the division should promote the reproduction of historical documents and out-of-print materials useful to historians. It may wish to explore the use of new, less expensive methods of reproduction so that more timely and wider dissemination may be achieved.
The division should also support the activities of responsible groups devoted to the preservation of historical monuments and artifacts and suggest objects worthy of their concern.
We also propose that this division examine opportunities to improve historians' relations with publishers, investigate additional methods and auspices for historical publications, and consider, possibly with other scholarly groups, the formulation of editorial standards and ethics for recommendation to publishers and editors. Moreover, the division should institute and assume supervision of the association's activities for the preservation, deposit, and use of aural and visual archives valuable for research.
Finally, in cooperation with the Organization of American Historians, the American Association for State and Local History, the Southern Historical Association, and the Society of American Archivists, the Research Division should develop a set of guidelines and standards which could be used by local historical societies to improve the services they offer and the standards of their publications. Improvement in the preservation and use of local historical sources we consider to be a matter of considerable urgency.
B. The Teaching Division
Though the overwhelming majority of our members invest most of their energies in teaching history, the association, despite such useful endeavors as those of the Service Center for Teachers of History, has devoted comparatively little effort directly to improving the state of historical studies in the classroom.
The creation of AHA committees concerned with various aspects of teaching has had limited benefits. Without discounting the work of these committees, the context within which they labored was ill suited to a sustained and systematic contribution to the improvement of history teaching. On the whole their work tended to support those skeptics who questioned what the AHA could do in the area of teaching. The traditional posture of the association toward teaching needs to be changed if the association is fully to promote historical scholarship.
To address the widespread conviction of many members that the teaching of history has been given insufficient attention by the association, the Review Board proposes the establishment of a Teaching Division. We conceive it as a structure parallel to those devoted to research and to the professional concerns of historians. It will have effect only insofar as its work is combined with a reorientation of the ways in which the association serves historical scholarship. That the Teaching Division is a parallel structure is meant to convey the fundamental need to invest the teaching function with a status and recognition equal to that previously reserved for research.
The Teaching Division should continue and extend the work now performed by the existing committees which are devoted to teaching. The committee system which has in the past made sharp distinctions among "the schools," "undergraduate teaching," and "Ph.D. programs" should be replaced by a more unified and integrated structure. Already the Council of the association has acted to create a new Committee on Teaching and to terminate a number of fragmented specialized committees. The Teaching Division should absorb the work of the new committee. A broad conception of teaching should reflect a concern for the communication of history beyond the classroom. The Teaching Division, accordingly, might well promote the association's participation in audio-visual productions of historical import in order to stimulate interest in, and to promote better public uses of, historical knowledge.
We recognize that, unlike other association activities, effective projects aimed at the improvement of teaching depend heavily upon personal contacts among individuals and that these contacts are not likely to be developed efficiently by a national office alone. A recurring theme in proposals that we have received for the reform of the association is the need for decentralizing some functions that require close and constant contact with teachers in the classroom. The argument, which raises thorny financial and administrative issues, is nevertheless a persuasive one. For this reason, the Review Board urges that the Teaching Division consider the possibility of experimenting with the regionalization of those association activities primarily concerned with serving the needs of history teachers of all kinds.
No area of our preliminary report received such highly favorable response as the proposal for the creation of a Teaching Division. The response appears to indicate that there is a vast quantity of energies and resources among teaching historians that may be tapped for participation in the work of this new arm of the association. The potential functions of the Teaching Division need to be studied systematically and with wide consultation of those whom it will serve. Here we offer only a few recommendations concerning the work of the division.
- The Teaching Division should identify, perhaps through a well-formulated questionnaire, those members of the association particularly interested in teaching problems. Working in as many ways as possible with such members it should seek to develop new forms of cooperation among faculty at various levels of instruction and help provide support, whether by publications, consultation, exchange programs, or otherwise, for the redefinition of teaching as a central concern of the AHA.
- The Teaching Division might well survey existing publications devoted to the teaching of history and, if it appeared desirable and feasible, investigate the possibility of supporting one such journal for AHA sponsorship.
- The Teaching Division should work in conjunction with other professional societies to ensure that the teaching of history remains an integral part of the educational curriculum at all levels.
Such suggestions are of course merely illustrative of some directions in which the Teaching Division might go. Much more important is the thoroughgoing commitment of the AHA to the proposition that it must decide to support the development of the teaching craft as it has supported the promotion of historical research in the past.
C. The Professional Division
The Professional Division should have responsibility over those matters which concern the rights, privileges, and opportunities of all historians, whether members or nonmembers of the association.
The goal of improving and promoting historical studies involves a concern with the general conditions under which the historian pursues his or her work as well as with research and the development of teaching materials. Therefore, providing assistance where appropriate in gathering and disseminating information on the employment conditions of historians (including, for example, such matters as salaries, teaching loads, class size, terms of appointment, opportunity for research leaves and grants, and other institutional conditions affecting the historian) would properly fall within the activities of the Professional Division. Another function would be to recommend guidelines for the use of the employers of historians.
This division should ensure broad representation of women and minority groups in the profession. It should encourage widened participation and representation of women and minority groups in the structure and activities of the association. It should concern itself with sustained efforts to promote real access of women and minority groups to training and employment in order to ensure a truly representative profession. One staff person should be assigned special responsibility for promoting equal opportunity for all groups within the profession.
Consistent and continuing study of changing career opportunities for historians should be undertaken to ensure employment of historians in areas other than teaching. Related to this, the Professional Division should take some initiative in exploring possible developments in graduate training that would prepare students for wider employment competence.
The Review Board, after considering the variety of complex factors beyond the association's control, cannot recommend that the AHA move toward becoming an accrediting agency. Nor should the association attempt to impose rigid control on the new enrollment of graduate students, thereby arbitrarily limiting the number of new recruits to the field. It should, however, encourage graduate departments to share information on enrollment and innovations in their programs. It should also seek to gather and disseminate accurate information on projected employment possibilities and future needs to graduate schools and prospective candidates for graduate degrees.
While broad concerns of academic freedom are currently within the purview of the AAUP, the Professional Division of the association should be willing both to receive and to refer to appropriate professional agencies complaints that clearly relate to the historical discipline. The Professional Division should maintain liaison with those agencies to the end that satisfactory action may be taken.
The Professional Division may determine the need to investigate particular problems touching the welfare of the discipline and may make recommendations to the association. Nevertheless, such activity should be pursued with great caution and only as an extraordinary undertaking.
The association must take seriously its chartered obligation to act "in the interest of American history, and of history in America." Toward this end, this division should be alert to opportunities to stimulate public interest in the whole of our national past, and encourage the communications media to draw upon the historian's knowledge in providing information essential for an understanding of contemporary events.
The Review Board does not believe that the association, qua association, should take or state positions on broad public issues. As historians, however, we have a special expertise that can illuminate the historical basis and background for a variety of urgent public issues that are rooted in the past. The association should, through its annual program, its publications, and its research activities give room and encouragement for such analysis, inquiry, and discussion on the part of historians. Without implying moral judgments or involving specific policy recommendations, such activities should emphasize the diversity of understandings that prevail. They should also underscore the historical complexities underlying contemporary issues, whose existence the association cannot ignore.
The only position of public advocacy that the association can adopt consistent with its charter and constitution is one based upon the need to disseminate historical information more broadly and to encourage the public to become more historically minded. If we are to increase public appreciation of the utility of history, then we must serve that public more directly and visibly than the association now does.
The association sponsors three different kinds of publications, all of which serve the interests of historical studies. The primary publication of the association is its scholarly journal, the American Historical Review. Other publications can be subsumed under two groupings: those concerned with information, of which the Newsletter and the Employment Information Bulletin are the significant examples, and teaching aids, of which the AHA Pamphlets are the most noteworthy.
The Review Board can scarcely exaggerate the importance of the American Historical Review to history in America and abroad. For this reason, its editor should continue to be appointed by the Council. He or she must have complete editorial discretion, consistent with general policies established by a Committee on Publications representative of the membership. This committee should consist of the three vice-presidents, the editor of the Review serving as a nonvoting member, and the editors, if any, of other AHA publications who may be designated by the Council to serve but not vote. The Committee on Publications should be consulted by the Council on the appointment of the editor of the AHR or of other association publications. It should advise the Council with regard to suggestions for new publications and propose new editorial initiatives for consideration. It should recommend in general terms areas of history to be represented on the Board of Editors of the Review. In other words, the Committee on Publications should serve as an advisory body to the Council and to staff officers in charge of association publications on matters of broad policy, management, and expenditure on publications. Since it is to be such a general policy-making committee, it should have no direct operating functions for any of the publications of the AHA.
The Review Board recommends that the editor of the AHR continue to be a full-time staff member. Particularly since the parting of the ways with the Macmillan Company, the editor has had to take on such additional duties as to require his full-time attention. The AHR should have its own staff and budget, but its editor should be accountable to the executive director for the financial and personnel management of the Review.
It appears clear that the editorial content of the Newsletter should be exclusively within the jurisdiction of the executive director of the association, as that of the Review must be solely the responsibility of its editor. But because the editor of the Review has also become its publisher and business manager, supervising printing, advertising, and promotion, the editor should, in our opinion, be in charge of the production of all the publications of the association, however separate or combined editorial responsibility for them may be.
In case the AHR should be housed elsewhere than at AHA headquarters then the Review Board would see substantial advantages to its remaining in Washington in close proximity to the rest of the association's operations. Wherever the offices of the Review are located, the confusion of roles that has existed among AHA and AHR staff, a confusion that reflects the difficult conditions of space and other considerations at headquarters, ought to be resolved clearly and sharply.
There is no need to reiterate the detailed suggestions about various AHA publications that appeared in the Review Board's preliminary report. In some cases, quite clearly, much of what we proposed was already being done and done well. In others, we are persuaded that significant change is already on its way. Our major concern is that the publications reflect the catholicity of interests in scholarship, in teaching, and in association matters that is increasingly evident in the AHA as a whole. The AHA Pamphlets have been modified to take new trends in our association into account. It appears prudent to propose that such a series be served by a carefully selected editorial board, as the AHR has been so well served by its own board. For the future, we suggest that each member of an editorial board, whether for the Review or for other publications, be selected by the Council from several nominations presented by the editor of the publication in question. We expect that the Committee on Publications will wish to suggest names of possible candidates to the editor, but are convinced that the editor must have the sole responsibility of making recommendations to the Council.
We take it for granted that, as has been association policy in the past, any editorial board for a publication or series of publications should be so constituted as to represent the relevant groups and interests most concerned with the subject matter of the publication. All such groups and interests cannot indeed serve on every advisory board; but real dividends should be produced by a conscious effort to follow a policy of as broad an appropriate representation as possible.
The editors of the AHR and other AHA publications have already taken steps toward broadening the scope of the publications they have produced. We applaud this initiative and urge that every effort be made to continue to seek ways to expand the emphasis on cultures outside the Western context, on the areas in which history and other disciplines intersect, and, in a different vein, on the changing tastes and needs of new generations of scholars and students.
The annual meeting has become in many ways the most important activity of the association: it affords an opportunity for the dissemination of scholarly and professional information, offers the entire membership a forum in which to discuss the concerns of history and the AHA, and provides for the informal meeting of historians of different interests and occupations. Although the Review Board has been urged to propose the abandonment of the annual meeting, or to propose substituting annual regional conventions, we have concludedespecially in view of the revised purposes and structure which we set forth in this reportthat the association would suffer from giving up the sole existing occasion for a gathering of all historians. Furthermore, the annual meeting as it is now constituted serves too many functions which cannot otherwise be served as well.
The proposals which follow attempt to bring the annual meeting more into line with the ideals and goals of a reconstituted AHA. We are convinced that despite the difficulties and frustrations involved each annual meeting must exhibit and represent the diversity of historical studies and interests that exists today.
- After carefully considering the responses of members to our preliminary report, the Review Board now concludes that a meeting date during the last week in December serves the needs of the association and the convenience of its members better than any other.
- We suggest that the annual meeting be rotated among New York, Chicago, Washington, and San Francisco, the cities with hotel and convention facilities that offer the optimum conditions for the achievement of the intellectual and social purposes of the gathering.
- We urge that the annual meeting be entirely self-supporting. To this end we propose that the registration fee be raised to ten dollars (five dollars for students). Admission to sessions should be limited to registrants.
- We recommend that more and regular opportunities be provided at each annual meeting for the formal discussion of matters of concern to all professional historians.
- We urge also that the association give more attention to the problems encountered at the annual meeting by graduate students and others seeking jobs. The AHA should make every effort to assure that information on jobs and interviews is conveniently available and that interviewing is handled as considerately and professionally as possible.
- We propose that the ad hoc Program Committee consult closely with the vice-presidents in charge of the Divisional Committees to determine what concerns of each division might usefully be discussed during appropriate sessions of the annual meeting. In addition, the ad hoc Program Committee should try to restrict any historian's appearance as participant to one session, should invite volunteers to serve as critics as well as formal speakers, and should seek to attract as participants the widest representation of historians.
- We urge that the ad hoc Program Committee continue to vary session formats. The popular and the controversial, the traditional and the less popular subjects and fields should be juxtaposed in the program. Program committees should be encouraged to offer sessions that substitute questions from the floor and clarification and amplification from the lectern for formal comments on the part of critics or that offer opportunities for historians to present research which cannot appropriately be offered in the form of delivered papers (such as the results of statistical investigation, which might be presented in print-out form and discussed and interpreted by all those in attendance). The Program Committee might also provide for a "demonstration room" where new materials and procedures for teaching and research might be shown and where members might instruct others in data analysis, demography, interview procedures, and the like.
- The Local Arrangements Committee should provide, at cost, child care facilities for registrants during the annual meeting in so far as this is feasible within limits imposed by law and local ordinances.
In its preliminary report the Review Board suggested the adoption by the standing Program Committee of a strict and fixed limitation on the participation of those constituent societies meeting jointly with the AHA at the annual meeting. The response from the membership indicated to us that many members find their principal tie with the AHA to be through constituent societies and that they attend the AHA annual meeting chiefly to participate in the sessions arranged by these societies and to meet colleagues in these organizations. It became clear to us that they felt that their societies and the professional connections they enjoyed through them were threatened by some of the board's recommendations.
The Review Board wishes to avoid any action that would do serious harm to any constituent society; yet it recognizes that the number of sessions at the annual meeting controlled by the constituent societies has been out of balance. We urge, therefore, that the standing Program Committee continue to explore means of assuring a fair representation of the constituent societies on the program of the annual meeting while assuring that the ad hoc Program Committee retains control of the selection of sessions and participants. Members of constituent societies attending joint sessions must pay the registration fee for the association's annual meeting.
Whatever the decision on the limitation of sessions we believe that in all cases the constituent societies must cover the administrative and publicity costs of their meetings and that for this purpose they should be charged a service fee of fifty dollars each year in which they sponsor a session or sessions, including meal-time meetings, at the annual meeting. An exception to the service charge should be made for constituent societies during the first three years of their existence. The costs of meals are, of course, the responsibility of the sponsoring societies. In all cases we would extend space first to those societies which do not hold their own annual meetings. Any specialized historical society may make its own arrangements for meeting in the AHA convention city at the time of the annual meeting, but without paying the service fee it cannot expect any service or publicity from the AHA.
When the Review Board wrote its preliminary report, it thought of the Pacific Coast Branch as an anomaly in the 1970s, as the survivor of an age long past when the AHA never met on the Pacific Coast and when travel across the continent was almost prohibitively time-consuming. We concluded that the PCB's unique connection with the AHA should be terminated, the annual subvention discontinued, and that it should reconstitute itself as the Pacific Coast Historical Association. The response from Pacific Coast members to this proposal revealed to us that many of them value their membership in the AHA largely through the participation in the activities of the PCB that it makes possible. We recommend, therefore, that the relationship of the AHA and the PCB remain unchanged at this time. However, it is apparent to the board that the PCB is a vigorous organization, and we believe that it should consider the desirability of eventually becoming an independent association comparable to the Southern Historical Association or the Organization of American Historians. We propose that for the next five years the present relationship, including the $1,500 annual subvention, be continued and that at the end of that period the relationship be re-evaluated by the Council of the AHA. More specifically we suggest that if the association should adopt the practice of quinquennial or more frequent meetings on the West Coast, as the Review Board recommends elsewhere in this report, the annual subvention to the PCB be discontinued.
Finally, the Newsletter should continue to open its columns freely for the announcement of the activities and meetings of specialized historical societies, and a separate section should be set aside for that purpose.
Since the deficit financing required in recent years to support the current level of AHA operations has persuaded many members that we are caught in a financial stalemate, the section on finance in our preliminary report was devoted to an analysis of the approximate doubling of both income and expenses between 1967 and 1972. This analysis showed that:
- expenses have outrun income by 10.5 per cent;
- staff has increased considerably with a consequent doubling of total salaries;
- advertising and library subscription income for the AHR is now nearly equal to membership dues;
- these dues no longer meet staff salaries as they once did, and have fallen from about half to little more than one-third of the AHA's annual revenue; and
- income from the association's capital investments has remained conservatively low.
These facts seemed to us to demonstrate the need for searching out ways to increase our revenues even to support the present level of AHA operations.
Members who are skeptical of the financial feasibility of the expanded staff and services proposed by the Review Board may not be mindful of how greatly AHA resources have multiplied since the 1950s. Here in brief are the figures, drawn from annual reports, with the principal elements of incomeduesand of expensesstaff salariessingled out:
Table 1: Growth of AHA Finances, 195572
Fiscal Total From Total For
Year Income Dues Expenses Salaries
1955 $91,480 $39,957 $69,447 $33,788
1960 198,245 57,700 119,330 60,893
1965 236,852 118,760 197,992 67,947
1970 566,416 119,541 583,747 213,127
1972 736,268 286,359 740,418 272,199
The AHA today is obviously an altogether different organization, much larger and much more complex, than it was seventeen years ago. In view of the fact that it has managed in the years since 1965 to meet expenses that have multiplied more than threefold with equally augmented income, there is reason to predict that, barring a serious decline in membership, the association can pay for the expanded programs of services and activities now proposed by the Review Board.
Before dealing with how to meet these increased expenses, we should like to satisfy those members who have asked us for a cost analysis of current operations. Although profit-oriented, tax-paying business corporations always keep track of their cost-effectiveness, it is much more difficult for nonprofit, tax-exempt educational organizations like the AHA to arrive at operating statements that will give the membership a detailed picture of their true costs. No analysis we can make could be a substitute for a year-by-year review of the annual reports of the controller and the auditorswhich will surely deserve the constant attention of the Finance Committee.
Perhaps the most useful cost analysis of current AHA operations that we can offer the membership is a simplification of the latest operating statement available, for the fiscal year 1972.1
Members may draw their own conclusions from this analysis showing where our money comes from and on what it is spent. It is evident that membership dues and AHR income are the principal sources of our revenue, just as staff salaries and printing are the chief elements in our expenditures.
Table II: Current Operations, AHA, 1972
Operating Revenue $736,268 100.0%
Dues and Registration Fees (Annual Meeting) 308,726 41.9
Publications (Advertising, AHR subscriptions, Pamphlets, Royalties, Reprint fees) 311,797 42.4
Rentals and Other (including Administrative Fees) 66,075 8.9
(Nonoperating) Investment Income and Contributions 49,670 6.8
Operating Expenses $740,418 100.0%
Staff Salaries and Benefits 307,364 41.6
Printing and Mailing 252,619 34.1
Office Overhead (Supplies, Equipment, Telephone, Audit, Legal, Insurance, Purchases of Plant Fund, Etc.) 81,142 10.9
Travel and Meetings (Staff and Committees) 99,293 13.4
To reduce and avoid the deficits of recent years, the Washington staff has made strenuous efforts to economize; further savings can undoubtedly be achieved if the staff constantly seeks to improve the efficiency of its operations.
For support of the expanded services and activities proposed in this report, the Review Board estimates that the Council will have to provide additional funds every year of about $100,000less than one-seventh of total operating expenses for 1972. Additional executive staff is essential: an associate executive director, a controller, and one or two staff associates whose total salaries with benefits might add up to $65,000. The need for more secretarial assistance which might cost $55,000, could be offset and reduced by some reassignment of duties for the present staff. Finally, the expenses of the three vice-presidents and of additional meetings of the Divisional, Finance, and Publications Committees, estimated at $20,000, will be at least partially offset by a decrease in the travel expenses of committees that are no longer in existence.
If the membership adopts our proposals, the Council can decide on funding priorities, but the Review Board strongly recommends that temporary financing should be provided from general or capital funds until increased dues from an increasing membership attracted by this program can support it.
Dues income must be the primary support for this program. The Review Board recommends that membership dues be progressively increased according to the ability of members to pay them.
At the present time, dues account for only 36.7 per cent of association revenues, a substantial decrease from the 1967 proportion of 54.5 per cent. This noteworthy decrease is not due to any decline in membership. Despite the increase of dues in July 1971, membership remains comparatively stable at the plateau it has reached in recent years:
September 1972 December 1968
Regular 12,404 13,046
Student 3,679 3,191
Life 434 445
Other 323 138
Total 16,840 16,820
The history of our slowly rising level of dues will show at a glance that they have been all too modest for an association chartered by Congress to serve the needs 0f history and its study in America.
Year Regular Student
1946 $5.00 $5.00
1952 7.50 4.00
1960 10.00 5.00
1966 15.00 7.50
1971 20.00 10.00
In the 1960s and early 1970s AHA dues, compared to those 0f national societies in other disciplines, remained merely nominal, lagging far behind the enhanced ability 0f members to pay for the expanding activities and publications 0f their association.
Under any circumstances, the dues structure 0f the association should meet the following criteria: It should help provide the funds necessary t0 carry out the tasks mandated by the membership. It should bear some relation to members' incomes. It should be designed to reflect the various categories of members. And it should encourage, where possible, support from all friends of history. As they now stand, association dues fail to meet these standards: they are comparatively low; they are unprogressive; they are restrictive in their categories; and they fail to enlist history's supporters wherever they may be found.
The association should therefore raise membership dues to a level in line with those of related scholarly and professional organizations,2 and should link them progressively to members' salaries. The designation of categories should be more inclusive than at present, and institutional memberships and special individual memberships should be actively encouraged by the creation of new membership categories, particularly at an attractive rate for school teachers.
Since the AHA does not now have a profile of its membership, which we urge the staff to secure as soon as possible, we cannot estimate the increase in dues according to members' salaries that will be required to raise the additional revenue contemplated by this report. But we are confident that the Council can arrive at a reasonable scale of progressive dues that should yield roughly $100,000 per annum in additional income.
Any decline in membership that may result from the higher dues can be more than offset by a vigorous campaign for new members. The expanded services and activities we are proposing will surely make it possible to tap a huge reservoir of potential membersamong historians teaching in the schools, for example.
The AHA has seldom mounted a really vigorous membership drive. At a time when the subject of history is on the defensive and historians are desperately worried about jobs and security, it may seem anomalous to urge that such a drive be undertaken. But most organizations of which we are aware devote more staff time and thought to the task of increasing their membership than has the AHA in recent years.
There is obviously no easy formula for increasing membership. We suggest that the officers of the association might address personal letters to historians who hold influential positions on college campuses and in the schools soliciting their help in commending the benefits of membership to their colleaguesand often soliciting their own membership as well. We suggest that modest dividends will accrue from a policy of appointing a series of membership secretaries in the universities, in large urban high schools, and in state and regional societies, thus mobilizing volunteer support in ways that other organizations have demonstrated to be effective. Above all, we are certain that organizational changes must be made in the headquarters staffeven if this means cutting out some other routine functionto free at least one individual to devote full time to the search for new and the retention of old members of the AHA. Such a central membership secretary with executive responsibilities is absolutely essential.
The association must also be more aggressive in seeking new benefactions and foundation grants for a variety of purposes and projects; it was only through assistance from the foundations in the 1950s that the Service Center for Teachers and its pamphlets were financed. An important element in the financial health of the association's endowment is the way it has been nourished and increased over the years by the generous benefactions of members and of friends of history. The association should be more active than it has been in attempting to increase the size of this endowment through the search for prospective donors and the encouragement of gifts and bequests. First and simplest, a standard bequest form that now appears occasionally in the publications of the association should be printed often and as a matter of course. Second, for some association projects, especially those that are experimental and innovative in the encouragement of teaching and research, financial support from the foundations should be sough to defray their costs. Finally, we believe that the association should more actively seek to identify potential donors among members and nonmembers and, through approaches by association members, seek to attract further gifts to operating and endowment funds.
1. Program of the eighty-seventh annual meeting, AHA 1972, pp. 1819.
2. Modern Language Association annual dues are $25 for regular membership, $7 for students not in full-time teaching capacities and for a four-year maximum, $10 for spouses, and $r8 for foreign members. American Political Science Association dues are set at $20 for those earning under $12,000, $25 for those earning $12-15,000, and $30 for those earning above $15,000, $10 for students and emeriti professors, $5 for spouses, $1,000 for life, and $35 for institutional membership. American Sociological Association dues are $30 for regular membership (which brings subscriptions to the association's two journals, the American Sociological Review and Contemporary Sociology, a journal of book reviews), $20 for an associate membership (for the first five years of membership without voting rights), $15 for student membership, and $12 for foreign members.
Last Updated: May 21, 2007