Statement on Affirmative Action (1996)

At the request of the AHA Committee on Minority Historians and the AHA Committee on Women Historians, this statement was approved by the AHA Council in May 1996.

The AHA is committed to diversity in the historical profession and recognizes the need for institutions to recruit aggressively and hire members from groups that have been historically discriminated against. This diversification has added to the richness of historical inquiry, and the profession as a whole would be diminished without it. Therefore, we support affirmative action. The Association's Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct and the statement in its newsletter, Perspectives, on Employment Information, have both been approved by Council. The Employment Information statement urges that "at all stages in a search, affirmative action/equal opportunity guidelines should be respected."

The Council has also recently approved the Report on the Status and Hiring of Women and Minority Historians in Academia. This document states, "As a consequence of affirmative action policies, the percentage of women and minorities in the historical profession increased dramatically in the 1970s. Since 1980 the number of women has continued to rise while the gains of minorities have leveled off considerably. The American Historical Association remains committed to the goal of enriching the profession of history through the continued diversification of its practitioners. The main obstacle toward that end remains the small pool of minority history Ph.D.'s. Every effort should be made to increase these numbers. Given the current underrepresentation of minorities in the larger pool of history Ph.D.'s, affirmative action policies are still one of the most effective mechanisms (along with scholarship programs) to remedy the problem of underrepresentation." Given the dramatic decline in federally funded fellowship programs in the humanities and social sciences, the impact of abolition of college and university level affirmative action programs on financial support for minority students, especially graduate students, would be devastating.