AHA Statement on Academic Freedom and the Indiana Governor (July 2013)

The American Historical Association issues the following statement regarding the recently released email correspondence of former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and his staff relating to the assignment of Howard Zinn’s work by an Indiana University faculty member.

The American Historical Association would consider any governor’s action that interfered with an individual teacher’s reading assignments to be inappropriate and a violation of academic freedom. Some of the relevant facts of this case remain murky, and it is not entirely clear what in the end happened, or did not happen, in Indiana. Nonetheless, the AHA deplores the spirit and intent of former Governor Daniels’s e-mails of 2010, which have now been published online in unabridged form. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Howard Zinn’s text, and whatever the criticisms that have been made of it, we believe that the open discussion of controversial books benefits students, historians, and the general public alike. Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum have no place in a democratic society.