Publication Date

October 30, 2020

Perspectives Section


Post Type


In a time when academia is under increasing scrutiny, the AHA continues to advocate for historians and the crucial work they do by defending those preserving our history, supporting endeavors to uplift marginalized voices, and reinforcing the importance of the humanities. As a discipline, history should be used to unite and heal rather than to divide, and the AHA praises the invaluable efforts of historians to do such work.

ACLS Joint Statement on the Key Role of the Humanities

On August 12, the AHA signed a joint statement authored by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) on the key role of the humanities during the COVID-19 crisis. Offering “an urgent reminder of the vital contribution made by the humanities and social sciences to the public good,” the statement, signed by many societies as well as the leaders of academic organizations, libraries, and research centers across the country, urges universities to avoid making devastating cuts to humanities programs. It calls on leaders of all institutions of higher education to, instead, “uphold the central importance of the humanities and the social sciences as you make important decisions that will shape the institutions under your stewardship for years and perhaps generations to come.”

Letter Registering Concern over Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice

On September 8, the AHA sent a letter to the Québec Ministry of Culture regarding the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice archive and library in Montréal. The AHA expressed “grave concern for the future preservation, maintenance, and accessibility” of the historically significant archives and collections at Saint-Sulpice following the recent firing of the professional staff charged with overseeing these collections.

Letter in Support of Women’s History Museum

On September 17, the AHA sent a letter to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) expressing support of S.959, the Smithsonian Women’s Museum Act, which would authorize the creation of a National Women’s History Museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. “The AHA is proud to support this bill,” the letter states, “and in the process affirm the central role women have played in the shaping of American history.” See page 5 for the full text of the letter.

Statement on the Recent “White House Conference on American History”

On September 23, the AHA issued a statement on the “White House Conference on American History” that deplores the tendentious use of history and history education to stoke politically motivated culture wars. As of October 14, 46 organizations have signed on to the statement. See page 6 for the full text of the letter.

Comments Opposing DHS/CBP Proposals Permitting Records Destruction

On September 30, the AHA signed onto two comments posted to the National Archives and Records Administration website in response to a proposed records schedule that would classify a set of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) records as “temporary,” which would allow their destruction in as quickly as four years. As proposed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be permitted to destroy “records developed to track and monitor complaints that are or will be investigated by DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties regarding alleged violations of civil rights and civil liberties.” The proposal also includes only 25-year retention for additional records that include documents related to sexual assaults in prison. These records are comparable to the schedules identified in a lawsuit filed in March by the AHA along with the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Gabriella Virginia Folsom is the communications and operations assistant at the AHA.

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