Publication Date

July 24, 2020

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

Through email conversation from January 10, 2020, to May 30, 2020, and at meetings on June 1–5, 2020, the Council of the American Historical Association took the following actions:

  • Reappointed Kenneth Ledford (Case Western Reserve Univ.) for a three-year term as AHA parliamentarian.
  • Approved the Statement Condemning the Use of Historical Sites in Warfare.
  • Sent a letter to Russell Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and members of the Public Buildings Reform Board, expressing concern about the recommendation for the closure and sale of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle.
  • Sent a letter to David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, voicing concern about the NARA policy that directs all agencies to manage all permanent records electronically by December 2022 and arguing that hasty implementation of the policy, with a lack of dedicated funding, will impair NARA’s mission and have dire consequences for researchers.
  • Sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, expressing concern that the change in policy to declassify documents at Vincennes and other repositories in France has rendered many documents inaccessible and encouraging the development of a clear, efficient, and effective procedure for declassification.
  • Signed onto a letter to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the United States Courts proposing a revision to Rule 6(e) to specify that the courts can release grand jury records based on historical significance.
  • Sent a letter to the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) expressing concern over reports that EOIR had omitted close to one million records from its September 2019 anonymized data release.
  • Approved joining the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) in a lawsuit against NARA and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), challenging NARA’s decision to approve ICE’s records disposition schedule for Detainee Records, which authorizes ICE to destroy records documenting mistreatment of immigrants detained in ICE custody.
  • Signed onto a statement from the American Sociological Association regarding faculty review and reappointment processes during the COVID-19 crisis. The statement encourages institutions of higher education to consider appropriate temporary adjustments to their review and reappointment processes for tenured and contingent faculty, including adjusting expectations for faculty scholarship, limiting the use of student evaluations of teaching, and extending tenure timelines. The AHA also urged all higher education institutions that employ contract and/or part-time faculty to compensate fully for courses already contracted for summer and fall offerings.
  • Sent a letter to Tristan Denley, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer for the University System of Georgia and chair of the General Education Redesign Implementation Committee, opposing proposed changes to the general education curriculum. The letter asserts that the legislative requirement for instruction in the history and government of the United States and Georgia cannot be fulfilled by taking only one course, either in history or political science, and that proper instruction in history can be fulfilled only by trained historians.
  • Approved the Statement Regarding Historians and COVID-19, endorsed by dozens of peer organizations emphasizing the importance of historical thinking in understanding the pandemic and urging all institutions that employ historians to be flexible and humane in considering the needs of their employees and constituencies.
  • Approved signing onto a letter to congressional leaders in appreciation for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and encouraging the provision of substantial additional funding for higher education in future bills, with focus on those students and institutions hardest hit by the consequences of the pandemic.
  • Approved the minutes of the January 2020 Council meetings.
  • Approved the interim minutes of the Council from January through May 2020.
  • Approved the following 2022 Program Committee appointments: Cemil Aydin (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Joseph Bangura (Kalamazoo Coll.), Choi Chatterjee (California State Univ., Los Angeles), José Carlos de la Puente (Texas State Univ.), Gerard J. Fitzgerald (independent scholar), Beth Hyde (Kean Univ.), Jonathan Lee (San Antonio Coll.), Jenny Hale Pulsipher (Brigham Young Univ.), Heather Cox Richardson (Boston Coll.), Haimanti Roy (Univ. of Dayton), Kristin Tassin (Episcopal School of Acadiana), and Hugh Thomas (Univ. of Miami).
  • Approved signing onto a potential amicus brief for Ahmad v. University of Michigan regarding upholding the standard archival practice of a period of closure for the papers of a private individual donated to public, university-based archives.
  • Vetoed the “Resolution Condemning Affiliations between ICE and Higher Education,” which had passed at the Association’s January 2020 business meeting, on the grounds that the resolution called for actions that would violate the law.
  • Approved a substitute “Resolution on Affiliations between ICE and Higher Education.”
  • Approved the nominations for the 2020 Awards for Scholarly Distinction (names to be released at a later date).
  • Approved the Statement on the History of Racist Violence in the United States.
  • Approved updating Section 3.a of the Annual Meeting Guidelines to include “Affiliate sessions should reflect the diversity guidelines outlined in section 4.2.d and e.”
  • Approved the FY21 operating and capital budgets on the basis that it would not be possible to hold an annual meeting in Seattle in January 2021.
  • Appointed the following historians to the Board of Editors for the American Historical Review for three-year terms to begin August 2020: Abou Bamba, Gettysburg Coll. (Africa); Keisha Blain, Univ. of Pittsburgh (modern US); Ángela Vergara, California State Univ., Los Angeles (Caribbean/Latin America); and Merry Weisner-Hanks, Univ. of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (early modern Europe).
  • Appointed the following historians as associate review editors for the American Historical Review for three-year terms to begin August 2020: Alison Beach, St. Andrews Univ. (medieval); Monica Black, Univ. of Tennessee (modern Europe, Nazism, Germany); Brandon Byrd, Vanderbilt Univ. (US since 1860, Haiti, African American); Adeeb Khalid, Carleton Coll. (Russia, Soviet, Central Asia, Islam); and Donna Patterson, Delaware State Univ. (Africa, medical).
  • Approved changes to the AHA Bylaws 4(2)a to allow for two performance reviews during an AHR editor’s five-year term—one at 18 months and one at 36 months.
  • Appointed Mark Bradley (Univ. of Chicago) as editor of the American Historical Review, to begin a five-year term in August 2021.
  • Approved revisions to AHA Bylaws 12(4)a and 12(4)b, which indicate that resolutions for consideration at the AHA business meeting must be signed by at least two percent (2%) of the total Association membership as of the end of the previous fiscal year and should adhere to the Association’s Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance.
  • Approved changes to Article VII, Sections 3 and 4 of the AHA Constitution relating to the business meeting, which include providing AHA Council the option to send any “measures adopted by the business meeting” to the “AHA membership for a referendum” (Section 3) and adding that Council may veto any measure adopted at the business meeting that it believes “does not adhere to the Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance.” In accordance with the AHA Constitution, the changes will require a full vote and approval of the AHA membership during its next election in June 2021 to take effect.

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