Publication Date

February 1, 1989

Perspectives Section

AHA Annual Meeting

Last May the Council of the Association decided that a questionnaire should be sent to all members with the mailing of pre-registration forms for the 1988 annual meeting, held for the hundredth year in late December.

Almost two thousand of our 13,682 members felt strongly enough to fill out and return the questionnaires, and the Council in its December 30 meeting in Cincinnati addressed the results. Since some respondents indicated rank-order preferences or listed two dates as equally acceptable among the four alternatives suggested, a total of 2149 responses were tallied.

Forty-four percent of the poll favored staying put with December 27–30; 37 percent favored a shift to the first weekend after New Year’s; 15 percent preferred after Labor Day and only 4 percent liked a pre-Christmas timing.

The Council noted that a plurality favored standing pat but that a majority favored change. It decided the issue must therefore be pursued further and, after a vigorous discussion of ways to do so, decided to ask the Research Division Committee to consider the issue and design a new polling document for submission for the Council’s consideration next May. The Council suggested that the Research Division might wish to consider a series of two-date competition in the hope of finding a viable consensus around a single date, either the present one or a winning alternative. Perspectives will report further as the situation develops this spring.

The Council’s rationale in consulting the Research Division on this strongly emotional issue was constitutional. The Division is charged with responsibility for the promotion of historical scholarship and the dissemination of information about historical research and therefore exercises authority over the principal function of the annual meeting program, a show-and-tell on the latest historical research.