Publication Date

January 29, 2021

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

Through email communications from June 17 to December 23, 2020, and at meetings from January 4–8, 2021, the Council of the American Historical Association took the following actions:

  • Approved endorsing a congressional resolution recognizing the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
  • Established the Historians Relief Fund to provide $500 emergency grants for un- and underemployed historians who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sent a letter to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement strongly objecting to “modifications” declaring that foreign “students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”
  • Signed onto a statement initiated by the Association for Asian Studies that expresses deep concern over the People’s Republic of China’s new security legislation that severely curtails the freedoms guaranteed in Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • Appointed Mark Bradley (Univ. of Chicago) to serve a five-year term as editor of the American Historical Review beginning August 2021.
  • Approved the Statement on Department Closures and Faculty Firings, which recognizes the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting decline in higher education revenues, but asserts that the AHA has assisted and will continue to assist history departments in making the case for the imperative of historical learning and thinking in higher education.
  • Endorsed a joint statement authored by the American Council of Learned Societies on COVID-19 and the role of the humanities and social sciences, which calls on all leaders of institutions of higher education to uphold the central importance of the humanities and social sciences when making important decisions about the future of their institutions.
  • Established, with an endowment gift from the Agentives Fund, two new prizes in honor of the late Congressman John Lewis: the John Lewis Award for Public Service to the Discipline of History, awarded to a nonhistorian, which would replace the existing Roosevelt-Wilson Award, and the John Lewis Award for History and Social Justice, awarded to a historian.
  • Sent a letter to the Québec Ministry of Culture in regards to the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice archive and library in Montréal, expressing “grave concern for the future preservation, maintenance, and accessibility” of the historically significant archives and collections at Saint-Sulpice, following the recent termination of the professional staff charged with overseeing these collections.
  • Sent a letter of support for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum Act (S. 959), introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
  • Appointed Pablo Gómez (Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison) to the 2022 Program Committee to fill a recent vacancy.
  • Signed on to two comments posted to the National Archives and Records Commission website in response to a proposed records schedule that would classify a set of Customs and Border Patrol records as “temporary,” allowing their destruction within as quickly as four years.
  • Approved the revised FY21 budget.
  • Sent a letter to the chair of the Supreme Court of Karelia on behalf of Yuri Dmitriev, a Russian local historian exploring crimes of the Stalin era, sentenced to 13 years in prison based on unsubstantiated charges.
  • Sent a letter to the president of Collin College on behalf of AHA member Dr. Lora Burnett, requesting that the college respect “the right of historians to express their opinions as private citizens without fear of institutional discipline.”
  • Sent a letter to the US Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, requesting that the subcommittee reconsider its vote to eliminate funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
  • Sent a letter to the president and trustees of Guilford College, urging them to reconsider the elimination of the history program and termination of one tenure-track and two tenured history faculty members.
  • Sent a letter to the Arkansas Division of Higher Education, expressing concern about a legislative request to academic units in the Arkansas university system seeking to collect data on the teaching of “The 1619 Project” and “Critical Race Theory” at public higher education institutions in Arkansas.
  • Approved joining the National Security Archive, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as plaintiffs in a lawsuit intended to prevent valuable presidential records from being irretrievably lost. The plaintiffs seek to ensure that the current administration and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) comply with the charge of the Presidential Records Act to preserve “complete copies” of presidential records, including relevant metadata of digital materials.
  • Endorsed the Educating for Democracy Act of 2020, which would provide $1 billion per year for the next five fiscal years to improve the teaching of history and civics in our nation’s schools.
  • Approved AHA participation as a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Ben Ferguson to prevent the federal government’s “unlawful and procedurally improper” sale of the NARA facility in Seattle, expected in early 2021.
  • Sent a letter to the chancellor and provost at the University of Mississippi, expressing concern about the university’s decision not to renew the contract of Garrett Felber, assistant professor of history, noting the possibility that Professor Felber’s termination might have related to his activism regarding racism and incarceration.
  • Submitted a comment in support of a campaign to enable commenting on footnotes in Microsoft Word using the Review function and encouraged AHA members to comment.
  • Approved minutes of the June 2020 Council meetings.
  • Approved the interim minutes of the Council from June through December 2020.
  • Approved the 2021 AHA committee appointments.
  • Adopted an Endorsements Policy for determining when to endorse, sponsor, or support other projects or organizations.
  • Approved the Statement Supporting Historians in Mexico, expressing solidarity with “professional historians affected by the extreme and arguably punitive fiscal retrenchment affecting Mexico’s system of higher education.”
  • Established a policy that AHA editorial procedures will not include suggestions that authors disclose their demographic information.
  • Approved discounted institutional membership rates for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities, in addition to individual memberships for faculty and students at those institutions.
  • Approved a proposal that the AHA collaborate with Indigenous community members and scholars to create a land acknowledgement for the AHA’s Washington, DC, headquarters at 400 A St. SE that will be posted in appropriate venues.
  • Allocated funds from the Association’s operating account to provide a cash prize for the AHA’s Equity Awards beginning in fiscal year 2022.
  • Approved naming guidelines for the AHA Prizes Policy to help ensure that gifts are managed in a consistent manner and that donors are provided with equitable, consistent, and appropriate recognition and stewardship for their support.
  • Established, with an endowment gift from the Ebrey family and friends, the Patricia Buckley Ebrey Prize to be awarded annually for an outstanding book on the history prior to 1800 of China proper, Vietnam, Chinese Central Asia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, or Japan.
  • Received the AHA FY2019–20 audit.
  • Approved the 2021 Honorary Foreign Member (to be identified publicly at a later date).
  • Extended the term of the Digital History Working Group committee by three years, through January 2024.
  • Appointed Akin Ogundiran (Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte) as chair and Molly Warsh (Univ. of Pittsburgh) as co-chair of the 2023 Program Committee.
  • Approved adding the following language to section 5.1.b of the Annual Meeting Guidelines: “Chairs should be able to effectively manage discussion and, if necessary, work to defuse controversy, particularly when it is veering into what might be considered unprofessional.”
  • Approved Ransacking Democracy, a statement condemning the actions of those who, on January 6, attacked the United States Capitol, the seat of the nation’s legislature and the heart of its democratic form of governance.
  • Approved updates to the Social Media Policy.

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