News & Advocacy
Keep up with the latest AHA activity supporting history and historical thinking in all fields and professions.
Update from the National Coalition for History on IRBs and Oral History
January 19, 2017 - The federal government released its revised protocol for Institutional Review Boards, which "explicitly removes" oral history and journalism from the regulations. The final rule provides that, "For purposes of this part, the following activities are deemed not to be research: (1) Scholarly and journalistic activities (e.g., oral history, journalism, biography, literary criticism, legal research, and historical scholarship), including the collection and use of information that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected."
The historical community, collaborating through the National Coalition for History, has long argued that scholarly history projects should not be subject to standard IRB procedures, and in November 2015, the AHA issued a public statement in support of these revisions. The new IRB rule goes into effect in one year, on January 19, 2018.
President Obama Designates National Monument to Reconstruction
January 13, 2017 - Based on recommendations from AHA members Kate Masur and Greg Downs, along with other historians, President Obama has designated several sites in Beaufort, South Carolina, as a national monument to Reconstruction. The monument will serve as a focal point for public engagement with this period of American history, which is especially relevant now as we reflect on the integrity of American democratic institutions and processes. The AHA supported this important expansion of the National Park Service system with a letter to the US Secretary of the Interior on November 16, 2016.
Everything has a history.
AHA Statement on Right to Nonviolent Political Action
January 6, 2017 - The AHA Council, at its January 5, 2017, meeting approved the following statement: The AHA upholds the rights of students, faculty, and other historians to speak freely and to engage in nonviolent political action expressing diverse perspectives on historical or contemporary issues. We condemn all efforts to intimidate those expressing their views. Specifically, we condemn in the strongest terms the creation, maintenance, and dissemination of blacklists and watchlists – through media (social and otherwise) - which identify specific individuals in ways that could lead to harassment and intimidation.
Quartz Article on the Value of History Education in Questioning Fake News
December 2, 2016 - Marie Myung-Ok Lee recently argued in an article in Quartz magazine that "History classes are our best hope for teaching Americans to question fake news and Donald Trump." Despite the need for the skills history classes teach, such as the ability to "question the stories that are handed down to us," Lee cites data from the AHA on the decline in history majors and interviews executive director Jim Grossman on the situation. She suggests that in the wake of an election "plagued by misinformation," and with fake news increasing, history education is vital.
AHA members have also been discussing how to address fake news and fake sources in their classrooms on the AHA Members' Forum. Not a member? Join now.
Antoinette Burton Selected as University of Illinois Presidential Fellow
December 6, 2016 - Antoinette Burton, chair of the AHA's 2018 annual meeting Program Committee (Washington, DC, January 4-7) and member of the Committee on Committees, has been selected by the Office of the President of the University of Illinois System to serve as a year-long fellow. In this role, Burton will make contributions to the future of higher education in Illinois and bring her research in the history of women and gender in transnational contexts to strategic university initiatives. The Presidential Fellows Program recruits distinguished faculty in the U of I system advance the institution’s “long legacy of leadership in the arts and humanities.”
AHA Statement in Aftermath of 2016 Election
November 18, 2016 - An unusually bitter and divisive election has been followed by continuing evidence of polarization to the point of harassment seldom seen in recent American history. Historians can say with confidence that this is not our nation's finest hour. Language previously relegated to the margins has moved out of the shadows, emboldening elements of American society less interested in a more perfect union than in division and derision.
Historians should, as part of our work, explore the multiple factors that have shaped this new terrain. The American Historical Association encourages that scholarship, but at the same time condemns the language and harassment that have charred the American landscape in recent weeks.
The AHA is chartered by the US Congress to promote the study of history in the United States. To advance this goal, the association has agreed on shared standards, including an emphasis on mutual respect and reasoned discourse-the ongoing conversation among historians holding diverse points of view and who learn from each other. A commitment to such discourse-balancing fair and honest criticism with inclusive practices and openness to different ideas-makes possible the fruitful exchange of views, opinions, and knowledge.
The American Historical Association reaffirms its commitment to mutual respect, reasoned discourse, and appreciation for humanity in its full variety. We will strive to demonstrate these values in all aspects of practice, including in our roles as teachers, researchers, and citizens.
Mexican American Heritage Textbook Rejected
November 17, 2016 - With a 14-0 vote, the Texas State Board of Education has denied the adoption of a proposed Mexican American studies textbook denounced by historians for numerous factual and interpretive errors. In September, the AHA, with the assistance of Teaching Division Councilor Trinidad Gonzales (South Texas Coll.) and association member Emilio Zamora (Univ. of Texas, Austin), sent a letter to the Chair of the Board expressing its concern about the textbook. The TBOE has communicated its gratitude to the AHA for providing appropriate professional expertise essential to the Board's ability to properly evaluate the submission.
Spreading the News about NHC Zika Briefing
November 14, 2016 - On September 12, AHA member and leading historical expert on mosquito-borne diseases Margaret Humphreys joined other historians to discuss historical parallels and policy responses at the National History Center's Congressional Briefing on the Zika virus. To continue to inform the public health and historical communities, Duke University has shared an excerpt of Humphrey's talk via the Duke Global Health Institute blog.
Alex Lichtenstein to serve as next Editor of the American Historical Review
October 25, 2016 - The American Historical Association (AHA) has appointed Alex Lichtenstein as editor of the American Historical Review (AHR), beginning August 2017. "Professor Lichtenstein brings energy and insight to the editorial direction of the American Historical Review," AHA president Pat Manning said of the appointment. "The AHA Council looks forward to working with him, the journal staff, and [the AHR editorial] board in charting the future of the premier historical journal." Read more on AHA Today.
Rachel G. Fuchs, 1939-2016
October 21, 2016 - Rachel G. Fuchs, a longtime AHA member who served on the 2016 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize Committee, passed away on October 15, 2016. A respected scholar of French women's history, Fuchs was Regents' Professor and Distinguished Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University. She also served as president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association in 2008.
AHA Guidelines Crucial to Response to Controversial Textbook
September 9, 2016 - AHA Teaching Division Councilor Trinidad Gonzales (South Texas Coll.) and AHA member Emilio Zamora (Univ. of Texas, Austin) are part of a committee that has released a report citing numerous factual inaccuracies and generally poor historical work in a textbook proposed to meet Texas’s Mexican American Studies standard in high schools. Drawing on the AHA’s Guidelines for the Preparation, Evaluation, and Selection of History Textbooks and the Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct to evaluate Mexican-American Heritage, the committee, convened by a member of the Texas State Board of Education, found a lack of “critical dialogue with current scholarship,” which resulted in “a polemic attempting to masquerade as a textbook.” The AHA remains unaware of any role played by professional historians in writing the text; apparently the publisher ruled out participation by scholars of Mexican descent because of concerns that they would be “biased” (quoting news reports). Here at 400 A St. SE we wonder how many of our colleagues born and raised in the United States have authored US history textbooks tainted by their “bias” as Americans.
The committee, convened by Ruben Cortez, the 2nd District representative to the Texas State Board of Education, released its report at a press conference on Tuesday, September 6. AHA members Gonzales and Zamora testified in front of the Texas State Board of Education on September 13. You can watch the hearing online.
AHA Tuning Project featured in The History Teacher
August 23, 2016 - The August issue of The History Teacher spotlights the AHA's Tuning the History Major project, an "incredible and ambitious endeavor" to articulate the knowledge and skills that students acquire when they study history. The issue features articles from a range of faculty voices, representing the diversity of perspectives that the AHA coalesced during the Tuning project. AHA K-12 members automatically receive a subscription to The History Teacher. All other members can subscribe or purchase individual issues at a discount. Learn more at MyAHA.
Toynbee Prize Foundation Awards Jurgen Osterhammel
August 8, 2016 - The Toynbee Prize Foundation has selected Jurgen Osterhammel as the recipient of the 2017 Toynbee Prize. The Prize, given every other year to a distinguished practitioner of global history, will be formally awarded at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Denver, Colorado, on January 6, 2017.
AHA Speaks Out Against Actions in Turkey
July 25, 2016 - The AHA, as a member of Scholars at Risk, and also as a scholarly body concerned with and committed to protecting the working environment and rights of historians across the world, endorses in full the statement issued by Scholars at Risk calling for an ongoing dialogue about and the restoration of legal rights to academics in Turkey. The AHA has also joined more than 20 other scholarly societies and the American Council of Learned Societies in a letter expressing similar concerns and objections. These statements follow the AHA's letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the mistreatment of scholars (February 4, 2016). [Updated July 26, 2016]
Perspectives on Advocacy
From AHA Today
Press Policy for the AHA Annual Meeting
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