Member Action

The American Historical Association encourages its members to participate in civic culture, as historians. We have created forums at our web site relating to specific issues and events, such as Supreme Court decisions, candidate debates, and major issues relating to higher education. But historians should not wait for an invitation from the AHA to weigh in on conversations in the media, in their communities, and anywhere else that would benefit from the particular insights that historians bring to public affairs. And our members will benefit from seeing what their colleagues have to say. So please send links when you publish something online that relates to any aspect of public affairs.

Four Hundred Years of African-American History

July 18, 2016 - In a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed, Peter Onuf (Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia) responds to a congressional proposal to establish the 400 Years of African-American History Commission, concluding that African-American history is American history.

Historical Perspective on Terrorism in the US

June 14, 2016 - In a guest column and op-ed published in several newspapers, Jeremy Suri (Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, Univ. of Texas at Austin) considers the technological and cultural shifts that has led to a rise in mass murders in the United States.

Read the op-ed in The Monitor: "COMMENTARY: Societal Changes and Mass Murders Today"

"We need more history majors, not fewer."

June 8, 2016 - In a May 30 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, "History isn't a 'useless' major. It teaches critical thinking, something America needs plenty more of," AHA executive director Jim Grossman makes the case that "To think historically is to recognize that all problems, all situations, all institutions exist in contexts that must be understood before informed decisions can be made. No entity—corporate, government, nonprofit—can afford not to have a historian at the table."

Member Gives Context on Nativism in the US

June 2, 2016 - #EverythingHasaHistory, including nativism in US politics and popular culture. In "Nativism, An American Perennial," Historian Alan Kraut (American Univ.) offers a broad summary for the policy community and general public encompassing 250 years.

Historian Writes Op-Ed on Diversity in Schools

October 9, 2015 - This month, President Obama chose John B. King, advocate for the racial integration of schools, as the next secretary of education. Historian Jonathan Zimmerman (New York University) weighed in with an op-ed in The Washington Post on the importance of this issue for American education: "Why the next education secretary will be good for diversity in schools."

Zimmerman will be participating on a panel on op-eds at the 2016 annual meeting,"Historians in the Public Sphere: Why and How We Should Write Op-Eds and Engage the Media."

AHA Rallies to Protect International Education Programs

August 18, 2015 - The AHA made a call to its expansive membership to oppose cuts to international education programs, specifically Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, being considered by Congress. These programs are crucial for training experts in foreign languages and cultures and ensuring productive global engagement. 

AHA Member's Article in Chronicle Encourages Students to "Major in What They Love"

May 21, 2015 - In "If Students Are Smart, They’ll Major in What They Love" in the Chronicle of Higher Education, AHA member Cecilia Gaposchkin advises undergraduates about the importance of choosing a major according to one's enthusiasms. What is valuable to potential employers, she notes, "is not the content of the major, but rather the ability to think with and through that information." Gaposchkin is assistant dean of faculty for premajor advising at Dartmouth College. She is also a participant in AHA's highly successful Tuning initiative, which provides resources to departments who want to help their students think about the usefulness of the history major. Participants have even been working on articulating how history majors can follow their intellectual interests without sacrificing practical imperatives.

Members' Op-Ed in New York Times on Electronic Records Management

March 4, 2015 - AHA members Matthew Connolley (Columbia Univ.) and Richard H. Immerman (Temple Univ.) wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, released March 4, on the challenge the National Archives and Records Administration faces in processing electronic government records: "What Hillary Clinton's Emails Really Reveal."

Letter to the Assembly on the Importance of the UW System

February 10, 2015 - In a letter to the Wisconsin State Assembly on the importance of the UW System, Lt. Col. John W. Hall writes, "As a native Wisconsinite, I have always felt tremendous pride that our humble, decent state has created and sustained one of the world's premier institutions of higher learning and a state system that is the envy of the rest of the nation."

An AHA member since 2010, Hall is the Ambrose-Hesseltine Assistant Professor of U.S. Military History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Read the full letter on the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: "Letter to the Assembly on the importance of the UW System."

Oklahoma AP Bill Draws Response from Historians

APA bill under consideration by the Oklahoma legislature in February would have had an impact on the teaching of history at the secondary level, particularly on those who teach AP US history courses. In response to opposition, primarily from teachers, the sponsor of the bill has pulled it, pending revision.

The AHA took action in support of teachers with a statement by Jim Grossman on AHA Today. The AHA will continue to monitor the progress of this bill in Oklahoma as part of our mission to advocate on behalf of historians and history education.

Historians are speaking out on this issue. Please send us links to any public statements you make and we’ll include them.

Isn't History Meant to be a Lightning Rod? by Bob Kelly, Minarets High School, CA

History Is a Process, Not a Pile of Flashcards by AHA member Ben Keppel, University of Oklahoma