Equity Award

In 1996, the American Historical Association adopted a statement on equity that acknowledges its commitment “to diversity in the historical profession” and called on “institutions to recruit aggressively and hire members from groups that have been historically discriminated against.” For example, according to figures available from the US Census and the AHA, the percentage of the current US population that is African American is slightly more than 13 percent; yet African Americans make up only 5 percent of the history faculty in the nation. Latinos, who constitute almost 14.4 percent of the current US population, make up less than 3 percent of the history faculty. The percentage of Asian American and Native Americans within the history profession more closely approximate their proportions in the total US population, but there still remains a need to increase their presence across the academy as well. It is imperative that the historical profession takes seriously its duty to remain open and available to its changing constituencies.

To further this goal, the AHA has established two equity awards to be given annually: one for individuals and another for academic units. The award can be conferred for new initiatives or for sustained efforts. These equity awards are meant to recognize and publicize individuals and institutions that have achieved excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical professions.  See the list of past recipients.

The Committee of Minority Historians seeks to bestow the Equity Award upon individuals or institutions who have demonstrated an exceptional record in the recruitment and retention of students and new faculty from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented within the historical professions. Deserving nominees will have records that include such achievements as mentoring, program building, fundraising initiatives, pursuing civic engagement, and enhancing department and campus culture to promote a supportive environment. Cover letters for nominations should emphasize specific outcomes.

Eligible for the institutional award are such academic units as, for example, departments of history, public history programs, and interdisciplinary programs and research institutes. Such units may have taken advantage of university and community resources to diversify their students and faculty or to provide professional experience through teaching, research, post doctoral, or internship programs.

Individuals or institutions can nominate themselves or be nominated. The AHA’s Committee on Minority Historians will serve as the award committee that will review the nominations to make the awards.

Application Process

Log into your MY AHA account at historians.org/myaha and click “Available Application Forms” in the AHA Awards, Grants, and Jobs section. If nominating someone else, select the Nominate button and search for the nominee’s existing record or create a new record. (For the Institutional award, select one person to be the primary nominee.)

  1. Fill in the application form, which includes the nominee’s contact information and the name of academic unit (for Institutional award).
  2. Upload an Application Packet as a single PDF. Include the following documents:
    • Cover letter (up to 750 words) describing the new initiative or sustained effort of the nominee
    • CV (for the Individual Award)
    • List of references with contact information (minimum of 3) who endorse the nomination. These can be students, former students, parents, colleagues, and others. There is no set proportion or formula on the "right" mix of references. Individuals organizing nominations should solicit a cross selection as appropriate to address the essential elements noted above.

Nominations must be submitted by May 15, 2021, to be eligible for the 2021 competition. Mailed, emailed, or faxed applications will not be accepted. Recipients will be announced on the AHA website in October 2021 and recognized during a ceremony at the January 2022 AHA annual meeting in New Orleans.

For questions, please contact awards@historians.org.