Publication Date

March 1, 1989

Perspectives Section

From the Executive Director

Mid-winter is the period in which your headquarters staff finds itself locked in negotiations with potential sites for the Association’s annual meeting two and three years later. We wait until such short notice (in terms of convention planning) in order to secure the best bargain on hotel rates for our members. Most convention planners operate four to eight years in advance, and our frugality sometimes costs us the opportunity to go to a particular city. However, by the time we begin serious negotiation, the city and hotel or hotels in question may have no other hope for the total use of their facilities that an AHA annual meeting represents. We also are delighted to find, as we often do, that two different hotel chains or two different cities are vying for our custom, which further enhances our clout. The council of the Association last December approved our going either to Chicago (Hilton and Towers) or to Washington (Sheraton and Shoreham) in December 1991, depending on which gives us the better deal. A couple of rounds of bidding and a considerable amount of chaffering have resolved the issue in favor of Chicago, where December 1991 registrants for the annual meeting will find themselves paying $57 for single rooms.

The quiet days of January and early February, when this column is being prepared, have produced several interesting meetings and events in which headquarters staff have participated. On January 26 the leadership of both houses of Congress were hosts to a celebratory occasion honoring an important new directory. Under the auspices of the historical offices of the Senate and the House of Representatives, a massive and definitive Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989 has been prepared, and the launching party was a happy and festive occasion at which copies of the new volume were presented to the Speaker of the House, the majority and minority leaders of both Houses, and a large number of other leading congressional figures.

A more substantial occasion was provided by a meeting of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), one of the three advocacy organizations in which the Association participates. The subject was a presentation by Dr. Mary Clutter of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), inviting the active cooperation of the ten learned society members of COSSA in advising the NAS on priorities for research and research grants in the several social sciences. Although historians as a group are not major recipients of federal funding through the National Science Foundation or NAS, we are pleased at the evidence of openness toward the views of historians with regard to fields such as quantitative history and the history of science and technology.

Early in February the Oversight Committee of the History Teaching Alliance met in Gainesville, Florida at the University of Florida, where the Alliance has been located for the past year and a half. As members recall, the Organization of American Historians, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the AHA organized this movement to establish collaborative local study groups comprising both secondary and postsecondary history faculty.