Publication Date

August 18, 2014

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

AHA members cultivate all possible fields of the historical discipline. We study every country and region of the world from their ancient beginnings to the present, employing a wide range of thematic lenses to do so. By our latest tally, we even have 10 members who identify themselves as historians of Antarctica. CC BY-SA 3.0 by Samrow

In order to better know and support our members’ professional interests, as well as to collect data on trends in the discipline, we ask historians to provide us with information about their fields of study and teaching when they join or renew their membership.

The taxonomy presently in use has not been systematically reviewed in a long time and needs updating to reflect the current shape and scope of the discipline. We started the process by asking AHA President Jan Goldstein to appoint a small subcommittee of Council members to propose revisions after consultation with colleagues in a wide range of fields. That subcommittee includes Farina Mir and Andrew Rotter as well as Goldstein as chair. The subcommittee’s draft then underwent a new round of revisions after careful consideration by the full Council. Now we want your input.

Anyone can view the new taxonomy on our website, but you must be a member to comment on the draft and suggest changes or new categories. The taxonomy subcommittee will review and seriously consider all member suggestions.

We will be using AHA Communities as the forum for comments, suggestions, and discussion. To access AHA Communities, go to Enter your login information in the header and click the yellow arrow. When you see your name, click AHA COMMUNITIES at the top right.

Within AHA Communities, the Member Forum will be the home for these discussions. You can also go directly to the threads for the geographical/temporal and thematic categories. Please add your comments to these threads or feel free to start new ones if you prefer. If you encounter any difficulties using AHA Communities, please contact Liz Townsend.

The AHA Communities site will be open for member comments on the taxonomy until September 30. If you aren’t currently a member and would like to participate in this process you can join the AHA.

As Jan Goldstein suggests in her September Perspectives column, taxonomy is at best an approximative art. We will never get it exactly right. But with your help, we hope to be able to provide a broad and inclusive list of the fields in which historians are researching, writing, and teaching in the early 21st century.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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