Publication Date

September 1, 1989

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

The spring meeting of the Association’s governing Council in Washington, D.C. in May is traditionally concerned with adopting the budget for the following fiscal year. While it accomplished that mission (see the article on the dues increase on page 6), it also decided to conduct at its December session a special mid-fiscal year review, before turning to other important issues.

Following an enthusiastic recommendation from the Research Division and in accordance with a report from a special review committee on the editorship of the American Historical Review, required by AHA bylaws, the Council unanimously reappointed AHR Editor David L. Ransel to another five-year term on the completion of his first term. The recommendation expressed warm words of praise for the AHR‘s innovative leadership.

The Council also adopted the Research Division’s wording of a statement to accompany the Association’s ballot this fall on the subject of a preference poll of members regarding the optimum time for the annual meeting, held ever since 1888 in late December. The ballot will have an “either-or” preference choice between December 27–30 and the first weekend in January. The referendum is expected to aid the Council in resolving this issue.

As part of the Council’s implementation of its long-range planning guidelines, President Harlan with the assistance of the three division vice presidents named an ad hoc committee to review all of the AHA’s publications to determine their continued utility and viability. Chairing the committee will be Ira Berlin (Research), and the members will be Barbara Harris (Teaching), Lawrence Levine (Professional), and Richard Kohn (Finance).

The Council approved recommendations from the Nominating Committee for three AHA Awards for Scholarly Distinction to be conferred at the December 1989 annual meeting. It differed with the Committee on another issue, however, in deciding to continue the practice of publishing the actual vote count from the fall balloting in the January issue of Perspectives rather than burying the information in the less accessible annual report of the Association.

The Council also dealt with a large number of other matters as well. It approved a proposed policy statement for Perspectives and the formation of a formal board of contributing editors; it voted a small change in the criteria for accepting affiliations from other history organizations and voted to accept affiliation by MARHO: The Radical Historians’ Organization; and it endorsed the plans of a joint OAH, American Studies Association, and AHA Committee on International Scholarly Exchanges to seek funding for a series of workshop exchanges to encourage world-wide teaching and research in American history and related studies, developed at the initiative of AHA Past-President Akira Iriye.

The Council accepted a Research Division recommendation to amend the guidelines for annual meeting program committees to stress the importance of comparative, theoretical, and international perspectives that cut across specializations. It also asked that a survey be made of the past five annual meeting programs to determine the number of joint sessions held each year with affiliates as part of the AHA official program. It clarified the terms of eligibility for the Marraro Prize.

Taking up a series of Professional Division recommendations, the Council adopted a policy statement on improper harassment of candidates for faculty appointment, which the division describes as “academic mugging.” This advisory opinion will be appended to the Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct. The Council also accepted a division-recommended set of standards for the conduct of oral history interviews, endorsed a policy of strong Association support for post-secondary faculty who devote time and energy to National History Day, and undertook to commend individual instances to college and university administrators.

The Council approved recommendations by the editor of the American Historical Review and the Research Division to increase the number of book reviews in each issue temporarily in order to eliminate a serious backlog and to make the editor an ex officio member of the Finance Committee and give him/her increased responsibility for the AHR’s budget and procurement.