Publication Date

January 1, 1992

Perspectives Section

From the Executive Director

When members receive this account of headquarters’ activities, we will be into the Columbus quincentennial year, the annual meeting in Chicago will be behind us, and Washington generally will be into that quadrennial political orgy, a presidential election year! We in the AHA, however, have just completed our annual November election, the detailed results of which are reported on page 3. In spite of or perhaps because of the lady-like/gentleman-like behavior of our candidates in our contest, the results of the balloting in almost every contest have been the closest in living memory! That fact testifies to the fine work of the Nominating Committee last February, which designed such a truly well-balanced competition.

Headquarters staff devoted much of its energy during November and early December to final arrangements for the Chicago annual meeting. That entailed visits to Chicago, countless telephone calls to the hotels and to affiliated societies, preparing pre-registration badges, and the usual general turmoil, made easier by the efficient and polished performance of Chicago’s hardworking Local Arrangements Committee. We have always been fortunate in Chicago LACs, and we are indeed happy to have Professor Albert Erlebacher, DePaul University, heading this year’s committee just as he did the 1986 one.

Like periodical publishers who always have multiple issues in the pipeline, the AHA also has future annual meetings under development. This tireless and often thankless task falls to Program Committee members who also meet in the late fall. Chaired by Fred Hoxie and JoAnn McNamara, the 1992 Program Committee met November 15–16 to get started on their planning and decision-making.

As always there were fall meetings of a number of organizations that the Association supports at which staff were present to show the flag for history. Two of our lobbying institutions, the National Humanities Alliance (which is the principal advocacy arm for the National Endowment for the Humanities) and the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), held meetings in November. The Joint Committee of Historians and Archivists, including representatives of the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, and the AHA, met in Washington in mid-November. It heard a major presentation from the head of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Gerald George, on plans for tightening up the planning for the middle and long-term activities of the Commission, which will take due account of the parallel needs of both records collection and the preservation and publication of important source collections.

The archivists and historians also heard a report on the results of a study devoted to assessing the proper level of history education in the training of archivists and plans for launching a further study of the mirror image<197>the proper level of archival education in the training of historians.

On the weekend of November 8–10 executives of the member societies of the American Council of Learned Societies held their semi-annual meeting in St. Louis. These meetings serve a double purpose; they permit learned societies’ staff to compare notes on analogous problems and solutions that work, and they permit the representatives of over fifty such groups to focus with the leadership of the ACLS on common problems. As a fringe benefit the societies’ representatives are also exposed to the facilities for major annual meetings at the host city, which are of potential relevance for future association annual meetings. Since, the annual total of hotel rooms required by all such groups, usually for several nights, is not far short of 50,000, this causes considerable salivation and great attention by the host city’s convention bureau!

On November 21, Association staff members had the pleasure of hearing the annual John Franklin Jameson Lecture at the Library of Congress. The Jameson Fellowship is cosponsored and funded by the Library of Congress and the AHA. This year’s fellow is Dr. Ellen Eslinger of James Madison University, who delivered an interesting talk on her research into the origins of camp meeting revivalism in the bluegrass belt in the early nineteenth century.