Crafting a successful proposal

Where can I get more information about Program Committee requirements?
Session organizers should consult the Call for Proposals page and the Annual Meeting Guidelines before submitting a proposal to be sure they have met all requirements.

Do you accept proposals for individual papers?
Single-paper submissions cannot be considered, though the Program Committee will accept individual submissions for the poster session. Experience shows that it is virtually impossible to find matches for single papers or form panels around them. The AHA recommends the AHA Communities as an effective way to find suitable co-panelists.

I have been asked to participate in two different panels. Can I submit more than one proposal?
You are welcome to submit multiple proposals. However, the Annual Meeting Guidelines stipulate that participants may appear on no more than two sessions, with two different roles, at the annual meeting. Roles include but are not limited to: presenting a paper in a formal session, participating in a roundtable, presenting at an experimental session, presenting a poster, and chairing and/or commenting on a session.

A scholar we have selected for our session participated in the last annual meeting. Does this disqualify them?
No, there is no rule against appearing on the program two years in a row.

Can I organize a session comprised of high school teachers or graduate students?
The Program Committee welcomes submissions from history professionals in all areas of employment. Please note, however, that the Program Committee does encourage panels that include participants from different institutions.

Modes of Presentation



Do I need to submit abstracts for each presentation on a roundtable?
Yes, organizers are required to submit a brief abstract or description of each presentation. Even for a roundtable, the Program Committee expects a short description of how the individual speakers will address the topic of the session. A sentence or two describing what the presenter will discuss is sufficient.

How many presenters may appear on a roundtable?
To assure substantial time for interaction between speakers and audience, panels are normally limited to a maximum of four participants in addition to a chair.

Multi-Session Workshops

Is there a difference between a workshop and a practicum session?
The Program Committee will consider both multi-session workshops focusing on a particular topic or theme (“linked sessions”) and “practicums” or workshops in which participants bring a common level of knowledge or skill to bear toward some practical end (such as developing a work-in-progress or new professional skills).

How do I submit a proposal for a practicum or workshop?
Select “practicum” as the session type. Your abstract should describe the goals of the workshop and how the presenters or workshop leaders will work with the participants to accomplish those goals.

How do I enter a multi-session workshop into the electronic proposal system?
Organizers should select “Submit a Multi-Session Workshop” and follow the instructions provided. Organizers will be prompted to enter a title for the session and a brief description of its content and goals.

Can I authorize colleagues to submit sessions to the workshop?
Yes. Follow the instructions to e-mail a colleague a link that will allow them to enter component sessions into the workshop.

How do I indicate the order in which the sessions that make up the workshop should be scheduled?
Once the component sessions have been entered into the system, the organizer will have the opportunity to note the order in which sessions should be scheduled, if accepted. Please note that the Program Committee may elect to alter the order of the sessions.

Will the Program Committee accept or reject the workshop as a whole?
The Program Committee will judge each session on its own merits and may elect to accept only part of a multi-session proposal.

Poster Sessions

Can I order audiovisual equipment for a poster presentation?
While presenters may supplement their presentation with their own computer equipment, the presentations are primarily intended to use the poster as a medium of presentation, so the AHA cannot supply audiovisual support.

Where can I find instructions on preparing a poster?
Detailed information on preparing a poster is posted here.

Experimental Sessions

What information should be included in the experimental session description?
Please provide a short description of the form of the session, the format’s ability to engage and connect with an audience of peers, and the potential costs involved, if any. Organizers are encouraged to propose creative formats.

How do I propose a film screening?
Submit a proposal for an experimental session, and explain in the description that the session will take the form of a film screening followed by a discussion. Be sure to list the discussants as participants.

How do I propose an off-site session?
Organizers of offsite sessions are responsible for making arrangements with the proposed host institution prior to the submission of a proposal. The AHA cannot pay rental or site use fees for offsite sessions. Proposals for offsite sessions require pre-approval by the Program Committee. Organizers of intended offsite sessions should contact the chair and co-chair of the Program Committee, explaining how the location will enhance the intellectual content of the session and clearly describing the arrangements that have been made for meeting space, transportation (if necessary), etc. Organizers must provide the name, e-mail, phone number, and mailing address of a staff member at the host institution who is aware of plans for the session.

Logging in to the Proposal System

Can I submit a proposal if I am not an AHA member?
Yes. You will need to create a user account by following the link from the log in screen.

How do I log in?
Following the link to the submission system on the Call for Proposals page should automatically log you into the system. Please make a note of the ID and password assigned to your submission as you will need this information to access your submission should you lose your connection before completing the submission. You can also use the ID and Password to return to and modify the session up to the February 15 submission deadline. The system will automatically e-mail you a message with the subject line “Submission Initiated” that includes your ID, password, and a link to access the submission in progress.

Entering Session Information

Is there a word limit for session titles?
Yes, session titles should be under 20 words.

Is there a word limit for session abstracts?
The system will accept up to 500 words for session abstracts.

What should the session abstract include?
A good session abstract includes a short description of the session and how the individual speakers will address the subject(s) and how the papers/presentations will fit together. You should also describe the broad audience for the session. It is in your interest to sell the panel a bit.

What is “Co-sponsorship”?
Organizers of joint sessions with AHA divisions, committees, and affiliated societies should identify the sponsor using the link on the submission summary page. You must have permission from the division, committee, or affiliated society in question to indicate co-sponsorship.

Why do I need to select keywords, a historical period, and a region?
We collect this information primarily for the convenience of the Program Committee, so that they can balance the range of topics covered by the program and assign reviewers with expertise in the broad subject matter covered in the proposal. It is also used to create a topical index. Please select the keywords, historical period, and region that best describe your proposal.

Can I choose more than one?
Organizers may identify up to three keywords, regions, and historical periods.

What counts as a serious schedule conflict?
Religious observances, scheduled classes, airline schedule conflicts, and other obligations during the meeting.

Do I need to include an abstract for each paper or presentation?
Yes, the Program Committee requires an abstract of up to 300 words for each presentation. This allows the Program Committee to get a better sense of what each panelist will talk about, and allows organizers to elaborate on ideas introduced in the session abstract.

Identifying Session Participants

How many people can be on a panel?
To assure substantial time for interaction between speakers and audience, panels are normally limited to a maximum of five participants, including chairs and commentators. Please note that a presenter can serve as chair and organizers do not count towards the limit.

Can I enter multiple authors for a presentation?

Yes, to add co-authors to presentations, click the name in the Speaker column for that presentation and follow the prompts for adding a new person.

How do I identify the chair and organizer?
Use the appropriate check box to identify the organizer and chair of the session. You must enter an organizer and chair for each session.

How do I list the same individual as both chair and commentator?
If the same individual will serve as chair and commentator, check both boxes when adding their name to the proposal.

Does every session need a chair?
We require a designated chair/moderator for each session—to provide introductions, manage the time, and facilitate interaction with the audience. You will not be able to proceed with your submission until you have identified a chair.

What if there is no commentator?
Some session formats, such as roundtables or experimental sessions, do not require commentators. If no commentator is identified, we will assume that the session does not have one.

What should I include under “Biographical Information”?
A brief (no more than 250 words) paragraph describing the presenter’s professional accomplishments, major publications, etc. Please do not paste the whole cv into the box as the system will not accept text that exceeds 250 words.

Can I include a link to a CV posted on a personal or department web site in the biographical paragraph?

Is there a word limit for paper and presentation abstracts?
The system will accept abstracts of up to 300 words.

If you cannot find a participant using the search feature
The proposal system uses a version of the AHA membership database that is updated regularly. Non-members and individuals who joined the Association or renewed their membership after the most recent update are not listed. You will be prompted to enter contact information for unlisted participants. Please fill out the form with care, including all requested information, as this will be the only information the AHA has for individuals not in our database.

Can I modify contact information for AHA members?
Yes. Click “select and edit this match” to update contact information for individuals that are already listed in the system.

Audiovisual Equipment

What equipment is standard in meeting rooms?
Unlike university or college classrooms, there is no “standard equipment” in hotel meeting rooms. A meeting room set for a session has a speakers’ table and podium or lectern with a light, and a microphone (in rooms large enough to require one). Seats will be arranged theater style unless otherwise specified. Panel sessions and roundtables will be arranged with microphones for panelists (in larger rooms). All other equipment must be ordered when you submit your proposal. Do remember that equipment is expensive and order only what you strictly need. Presenters must supply their own laptop computers.

Will the AHA pay for audiovisual equipment?
Section 4.5 of the Annual Meeting Guidelines stipulates that organizers must request audiovisual equipment when submitting their proposal in order for the AHA to cover the full rental fee. Late requests for audiovisual materials (between February 15 and June 1) are subject to a fee determined by the Meetings Manager. The meeting staff cannot accept orders for additional equipment after June 1, though presenters may order equipment directly from the hotels at their own expense.

Do I need to order a screen to go with my projector?
No, the AHA will order a package including a screen, cart, and all necessary cables and connections.

Why is there no option for ordering a computer or an Internet connection?
Due to the cost of rental, the AHA does not provide laptop or desktop computers for sessions. Those requesting computer projectors for PowerPoint presentations must supply their own laptop computers.

What if we need a DVD player or something else that is not on the AV list?

Select “Other” and describe your requirements in the box provided.

Can I Zoom into a session?

The AHA does not allow presentation via Skype or Zoom, as the WiFi bandwidth in the hotels will not support videoconferencing. We find that it detracts from the experience for attendees, due to issues with sound quality and connectivity. It is also more difficult for the audience to interact with presenters who are not physically present. We do, however, allow presentations in absentia.


How long will it take to submit a proposal?
It should take from ten to thirty minutes to complete the electronic proposal, provided you have collected all necessary information in advance.

Will I have a chance to proof my work?
Yes, you will see a summary screen before submitting the proposal. Please proofread carefully to be sure that you have entered all session information carefully.

What if the system is inserting odd characters?
Try saving your proposal as plain text before pasting information into the system.

Why is the system lowercasing acronyms in my title?
If an acronym such as UNESCO is saving as “Unesco,” try retyping it directly into the system to overcome the case lock.

Can I modify a proposal after I submit it?
Yes, as long as it is before the February 15 deadline. However, this is a hard deadline, and you will not be able to access or modify your proposal once the deadline has passed. If the session is accepted, you will have to opportunity to make changes to session information before the program goes to press. Abstracts will be posted online as submitted to the Program Committee; individuals will not have the opportunity to edit abstracts after the February 15 proposal deadline.

If you think some of your data is incorrect or did not go through
As long as the majority of your session proposal data has been entered by the midnight PST on February 15 deadline, your chance of having your proposal accepted will not be affected. Please contact tech support so that the data entry issue can be corrected.

Help, the screen went blank!
If you experience computer problems, you will be able to retrieve a submission in process by logging in with the ID and password e-mailed to you when you began the submission.You should have received an e-mail with the subject line “Submission Initiated” that contains this information.

When will I know whether my proposal has been accepted?
The Program Committee will notify session organizers of its decisions via e-mail in mid to late May.

What if I don’t hear from the Program Committee?
Experience has shown that the e-mails sent by the committee are occasionally caught in spam filters. Please contact the AHA if you do not hear anything by early June.

Other Questions

Should I register for the meeting when I submit my proposal?
Although some professional organizations require proposals to be accompanied by meeting registration materials, the AHA does not. Everyone on the program, including chairs and commentators, must register for the annual meeting when registration opens.

Does the AHA provide grants to enable foreign scholars to attend the annual meeting?
Not specifically. The AHA does offer funding to help some graduate students attend the annual meeting.

Do I have to be a member of the AHA to present at the annual meeting?
All historians based in the United States are required to be current members of the Association; foreign scholars and those from other disciplines are exempt from this requirement.

How do I propose a joint session between the AHA and an affiliated society?
You must have permission from the affiliate in order to propose a joint session. Some affiliates have a formal selection process, so be sure to leave time to complete the approval process before the February 15 deadline. Contact information for the affiliated societies is available on the AHA website. Once you have secured approval from the affiliate, you should submit a proposal to the AHA by the general deadline, noting the co-sponsorship using the drop-down menu. Sessions sponsored solely by an affiliate may be submitted later; check with the society for their policy.