AHA Advocacy

In a wide range of situations, whether involving the rights and careers of individual historians, historical practice in diverse venues, or the role of history in public culture, the American Historical Association has the responsibility to take public stands. See below for recent AHA actions.

To learn more about how the AHA determines whether to take a public stand, please see Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance (June 2017) and Policies and Procedures for Considering Amicus Brief Requests (January 2020).

AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman's The Megaphone at 400 A Street SE shares the process by which the AHA issues letters and statements and signs onto amicus curiae briefs.

For statements and letters from the 1990s–2021, please visit the AHA's News and Advocacy Archives.

In many states, legislators have introduced "divisive concepts" bills that seek to limit history education in ways that would make it virtually impossible for students to understand slavery and racism in American historical development. The AHA is leading or involved with several initiatives to combat these bills and provides resources and support for educators advocating for teaching history. For more information and for recent letters sent by the AHA to state legislatures, please visit our Teaching History with Integrity site and History Education Advocacy archive.

  • Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance (June 2017)

    The Council of the American Historical Association issues a statement on when it has the right to take public stands in defense, most of which has to do with the rights and careers of individuals, considered as historians. (Created 2007; Updated 2017)

  • Policies and Procedures for Considering Amicus Brief Requests (January 2020)

    The AHA may consider requests for endorsing amicus briefs that coincide with the AHA's Guiding Principles for Taking a Public Stance. Such requests may be submitted by members of the Association, litigants, or other scholarly associations.

  • AHA Statement on 2024 Campus Protests (May 2024)

    The AHA has issued a statement “deplor[ing] recent decisions among college and university administrators to draw on local and state police forces to evict peaceful demonstrators.” Pointing to historical events on campuses such as Kent State University and Jackson State University in 1970, as well as the “Orangeburg Massacre” of 1968, the AHA “urges everyone involved to learn from that history and turn away from the violent escalation we are now seeing on campuses.” The AHA “urges administrators to recognize the fundamental value of peaceful protest on college and university campuses.” To date, 52 organizations have signed on to the statement.

  • AHA Submits Testimony on Maine Social Studies Standards Review (April 2024)

    The AHA has reviewed the existing Maine Learning Results for Social Studies and has submitted testimony to the Maine Department of Education (DOE) as part of the state’s process for standards revision. This testimony includes suggested revisions and “encourages the DOE to provide more robust guidance to districts and teachers about themes, topics, ideas, and developments with which students should ideally be familiar by the completion of their K–12 education,” emphasizing the importance of teaching students to think historically.

  • AHA Submits Testimony on Idaho Social Studies Standards Review (April 2024)

    The AHA has reviewed the draft Idaho Content Standards for Social Studies and submitted testimony to the Idaho Department of Education offering suggestions to improve student learning in specific content areas. “Additional attention to state and local history would enhance this framework by engaging students through exploration of the pasts that shape their experiences and the communities in which they live,” the AHA wrote. “Taking advantage of this opportunity to revise the standards by bringing in more of Idaho’s unique story, especially in relation to Native history, westward migration, mining, and public land use, as well as specifying more than a single line about the Civil Rights Movement would further strengthen them.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Iowa Governor Urging Veto of Social Studies Bill (April 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds urging her to veto HF 2545, a bill “[r]iddled with distortions and inaccuracies” that “overrides the state’s mandated process for developing public school curricula, while imposing unprecedented restrictions on the content and structure of key courses in US and world history.” “This bill is a Frankenstein’s monster constructed out of five out-of-state model bills that share little more than the support of a small group of lobbyists with an overt political agenda,” the AHA wrote.

  • Action Alert: Maine K–12 Social Studies Standards (April 2024)

    The AHA encourages its members in Maine to make their voices heard as the Maine Department of Education (DOE) nears completion of its mandated social studies standards revisions process. The DOE has asked for public comments regarding existing standards; AHA members in Maine can review those standards and provide written feedback or testify in-person at a public hearing on April 29. AHA researcher Scot McFarlane will testify on behalf of the AHA.

  • AHA Researcher Testifies on Maine Social Studies Standards (April 2024)

    AHA researcher Scot McFarlane will testify on behalf of the AHA to the Maine Department of Education regarding the state’s current social studies standards. In a public hearing in Augusta on April 29, McFarlane will share prepared remarks. “Maine’s social studies standards … emphasize skills with little specificity about content. This is a missed opportunity. State-level social studies standards can help teachers engage their students by placing local, state, and regional history in a context that connects to national and global themes,” his testimony states. “Good, history-rich standards can guide parents, teachers, and school administrators as they prepare future generations of Maine students for success in a complex and interconnected world.”

  • AHA Endorses Letter Asking for Congressional Recognition of the US Army’s First Uniformed Female Combatants (April 2024)

    The AHA endorsed a letter from 55 professional historians asking members of Congress to co-sponsor S.815 and H.R. 1572, bills that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the US Army’s first uniformed female combatants—the switchboard operators who connected calls between the front lines and Army command during World War I. “When survivors sailed home in 1919, the Army informed them that their dog-tags and dedicated service did not entitle them to the same Victory Medals, cash bonuses, or hospitalization for disability granted other soldiers,” the letter states. “A group of descendants and the World War One Centennial Commission have spearheaded an effort to obtain the Congressional Gold Medal on their behalf. Doing so would not only honor these pioneers, but every woman in uniform since.”

  • AHA Sends Letter of Concern about Missing Chinese Scholar (March 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China expressing “concern for the fate of Professor Rahile Dawut, a scholar of Uyghur studies who has apparently been sentenced to life in prison and whose specific whereabouts are unknown.” Professor Dawut, missing since 2018, has “been detained and sentenced in connection with her peaceful exercise of the right to academic freedom” in a situation that, in addition to raising concern for Dawut’s well-being, “raises questions about the ability of intellectuals in China generally to conduct scholarship safely and freely.” The AHA urges President Xi to secure Professor Dawut’s immediate and unconditional release.

  • AHA Sends Letter to South Carolina State University Opposing Plan to Cut Majors (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to leaders at South Carolina State University expressing grave concern about a plan to cut majors in history, African American studies, and social studies teaching at the university. “Cutting a core liberal arts degree like African American studies or history is short-sighted. Civic leaders from all corners of the political landscape have lamented the lack of historical knowledge of American citizens,” the AHA wrote. “Cutting social studies education is an especially irresponsible move at a moment when teachers are being prohibited from teaching the truth about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, or the continuing centrality of racism in American public culture.”

  • Coalition of Organizations Submit Letter Opposing Florida SB 1372 (February 2024)

    The AHA, as part of a nonpartisan coalition of organizations, has signed on to a letter opposing Florida SB 1372, which would threaten the integrity of K–12 history education in the state. This statement expresses “serious concerns that the bill is not constitutionally viable, is overly vague, and is an example of viewpoint discrimination that is contrary to free speech and expression. . . . This bill could create a new generation of history teachers who are unsure how to teach material about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, or women’s suffrage.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Florida Legislature Opposing Harmful K–12 Teacher Training Bill (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to Florida legislators opposing HB 1291/SB 1372, a “heavy-handed and inappropriate intervention in college curricula, classroom instruction, and professional learning.” The proposed legislation, the AHA writes, “would require educators teach a history that is incomplete, tendentious, and politically driven rather than based on evidence and consistent with professional standards. . . . SB 1372 establishes a mechanism for censoring classroom teaching and learning, and hence stands in stark opposition to academic freedom and true intellectual diversity.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Iowa House of Representatives Opposing Bill on K-12 Social Studies Curriculum

    The AHA has sent a letter to the members of the Iowa House of Representatives opposing HF 2544, a bill that “directly encroaches on the authority and expertise of the members of the Iowa State Board of Education, sidestepping statutory minimum requirements for the educational program and bypassing the state’s mandated process for developing social studies standards.” The proposed legislation, the AHA wrote, “is a Frankenstein’s monster constructed out of disembodied portions of five out-of-state model bills” that “leaves no room for input from teachers, administrators, historians, or parents.”

  • AHA Action Alert Opposing Florida Teacher Training Bill (February 2024)

    AHA Action Alert Opposing Florida Teacher Training Bill

  • AHA Letter to Indiana Legislature Opposing “Intellectual Diversity” Tenure Bill (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to members of the Indiana House Education Committee opposing Senate Bill 202, which would “create a policy for granting tenure and terminating the appointments of tenured faculty based on how well that faculty member has fostered ‘intellectual diversity’ within the classroom.” The bill, the AHA wrote, “inserts the will and judgment of politically appointed boards of trustees into the fundamental work of university faculty” and “would create conditions of uncertainty for faculty, presenting situations where their jobs are on the line for the infraction of not having enough arbitrarily decided ‘variety’ in their ‘political or ideological frameworks’ . . . mak[ing] it easier for public interest groups and politicians—of either party—to weed out faculty with whom they disagree.”

  • AHA Letter to Nebraska Legislature Opposing Bill to Eliminate Tenure (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the Nebraska state legislature opposing LB 1064, a proposed bill that would eliminate tenure in state universities and colleges. “If passed [LB 1064] will severely diminish the ability of the state's public universities to recruit and retain the quality of faculty required for first-rate teaching and research,” the AHA wrote. “Any public university in the state would immediately become an employer of last choice among scholars who desire an environment amenable to high-quality teaching and research.“

  • AHA Sends Letter to Manhattan College Opposing Termination of History Faculty Members (January 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the president, acting provost, and chair of the board of trustees at Manhattan College expressing “grave concern about the termination of two members of the history faculty.” “The history department will be cut in half from six to three through these and other faculty eliminations,” the AHA wrote. “As a Lasallian institution with a strong tradition of liberal arts education, Manhattan College has a particularly impressive record of high-quality history education provided by an accomplished faculty committed to undergraduate education. The AHA urges the administration to consider how its actions are undermining this commitment to the liberal arts and the training of teachers, and the importance of the liberal arts to the lifelong learning essential to occupational and professional success.”

  • Resolution Passed at the 137th Business Meeting (January 2024)

    At the 137th Business Meeting of the AHA (held on January 6, 2024), the AHA membership approved the resolution "In Defense of the Right to Learn." The resolution was accepted by the Council on January 24, 2024.