Historians Making News

This space highlights the accomplishments of historians. Members and non-member historians are encouraged to submit news about prizes, promotions, honors, tenure, and new jobs. Entries to be considered for inclusion on "Historians Making News" can be about yourself, another historian, or group of historians. AHA staff will review all submissions.

  • Newt Gingrich Weighs in on Trump Controversy "as a Historian"

    Jun 22, 2017 - 

    On ABC's This Week, Newt Gingrich (PhD, Tulane 1971) spoke "as a historian"concerning the Trump administration's dismissal of James Comey in the wake of recent investigations into the president's ties with foreign powers. "You have this legalistic nightmare trying to block the Trump presidency," Gingrich stated, "and you want me to believe this is all just random behavior. As a historian, I don't believe it." The American Historical Association encourages PhD recipients to apply their expertise to occupations beyond the professoriate. In keeping with that mission, Barbara Metcalf, past president of the AHA, extended an open invitation to Gingrich to join the AHA through a 2011 letter in the New York Times. "All of us seriously interested in history, as Mr. Gingrich clearly is, need the kind of 'continuing education' that the American Historical Association provides," Metcalf wrote. "All of us as American citizens, moreover, need figures in public life who demonstrate the breadth and open-mindedness that a historical perspective at its best encourages."

  • AHA Member Honored for Work on History of Boy Scouts

    Jun 09, 2017 - 

    AHA member Nelson Block was recently awarded the Boy Scouts of America's Silver Buffalo Award, the organization's highest honor for adult volunteers. Block is one of the most prolific historians of scouting, having written two books and over 20 articles on the subject. In 2002, Block was named the Founder Gilwell Fellow by the Chief Scout of Great Britain in recognition of his contribution to the field of scouting history. 

  • AHA Member and Medieval Scholar Offers Insight into Appropriation of Viking History

    Jun 01, 2017 - 

    David Perry, AHA member and professor of medieval and Renaissance history at Dominican University, published an op-ed in the Washington Post about the recent use of the slogan "Hail Vinland! Hail Victory!" among white supremacist organizations. Perry's article offers some historical context for why such groups have begun to appropriate a rather obscure myth of Viking colonization, one which dates back to the 10th century. "For white supremacists," he writes, "the concept of Vinland asserts a historical claim over North America, stretching especially from the Northeast coast to the Pacific Northwest. They use the myth of Vinland to position themselves as righteous defenders in the wars of race and religion they believe are coming."

  • Former AHA President Honored by Society of American Historians

    May 30, 2017 - 

    Former AHA president and University of Wisconsin-Madison historian William Cronon was awarded the 10th annual Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Award for "distinguished writing in American history of enduring public significance" by the Society of American Historians. In addition to his field-defining work on environmental history, he has been a staunch defender of academic freedom and the role of scholars in the public sphere. Cronon was president of the AHA in 2012 and gave his Presidential Address on "Storytelling."

  • AHA President-Elect Provides Historical Context to President's "Witch-Hunt" Statement

    May 19, 2017 - 

    Mary Beth Norton, professor of history at Cornell University and AHA president-elect, was recently interviewed by The Atlantic about President Donald Trump's use of the Salem witch trials as an analogy for current federal investigations. "To me what's interesting about Trump's tweet is the use of the witch-hunt analogy, because it's a classic way in which somebody implicitly claims, 'I am being unfairly targeted,' because we all believe that the people who were accused of witchcraft in 1692 were unfairly targeted," Norton said. "It's not just that it's a massive attack on him, it's that it's an unfair and false attack on him, which goes along with everything else he's said."

  • AHA Member Pens Op-Ed on the Yale Graduate Student Hunger Strike

    May 12, 2017 - 

    Jennifer Klein, professor of history at Yale University, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times concerning the ongoing hunger strike of Yale graduate student teachers protesting the university's failure to recognize the graduate student union. Klein noted that an increase in a dependence on contingent faculty and graduate student labor, coupled with a decline in available tenure-track positions (as highlighted in the AHA's recent jobs data report), has created "a perpetual backlog of aspiring assistant professors, all competing for fewer jobs."

  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellows Announced

    May 10, 2017 - 

    The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has announced the 2017 class of Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows. Two members of the AHA, Daniel Platt (Brown Univ.) and Zebulon Dingley (Univ. of Chicago), are among the 21 scholars to receive this honor. The fellows will receive 12-month awards of $25,000 to support their final year of dissertation work. 

  • ACLS Announces List of 2017 Dissertation Completion Fellows

    May 04, 2017 - 

    The American Council of Learned Societies recently announced the 2017 class of Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows. Among the list of awardees are several AHA members. Each of the 65 fellows will receive a $30,000 stipend and up to $8,000 in research funds and university fees in their final year of dissertation writing. 

  • AHA Committee Chair Discusses History of the War in Afghanistan with NPR

    Apr 20, 2017 - 

    Aaron O'Connell, co-chair of the 2018 AHA Local Arrangements Committee, recently spoke on NPR about comparisons between how the US has handled the Afghan conflict and the US strategy during the Vietnam War. O'Connell, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, remarked, "the people who wrote our tactics for Iraq and Afghanistan were scholars of the Vietnam War. They were men who had written PhD dissertations on the war in Vietnam. And yet, we repeated the errors over and over again."

  • AHA Member Encourages Historical Context in Discussions of Immigration

    Apr 19, 2017 - 

    AHA member Una Cadegan, professor of history at the University of Dayton, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that examines the "myth of immigrant self-reliance," the notion that early 20th-century Irish and Italian immigrants "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps without 'any special favors'" and that other racial groups "should do the same." Cadegan concludes that "rather than reinventing a mythical past about self-reliance, it's time to pay it forward."