Publication Date

March 1, 1993

Perspectives Section

From the Executive Director

As this issue is being prepared, the Federal City is even more schizoid than usual. The glorious weather that accompanied the inauguration of a new administration poured sunlight onto a more than ordinarily ebullient celebration. The fact that the inaugural represented the first change of governing parties in twelve years and that it seemed also to be a generation change not unlike that of January 1961 encouraged a widespread spirit of cheerful optimism. However, the inside-the-Beltway, Washington analytic industry promptly took off in weighty criticism of the teething problems of the infant administration, with large doses of Schadenfreude showing through their carefully calibrated more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tones.

More reflective commentators noted that the still-growing phenomenon of daytime radio talk shows, featuring grassroots opinions, seemed to be playing a growing role in the national political life. A certain characteristic American desire for instant results and reaction seemed to be at work also.

The AHA headquarters, though not immune from the Washington sport of gossip about possible cabinet and sub-cabinet appointees, and engaging cautious attempts to influence choices for those positions of importance to historians, spent its time in January and early February implementing the decisions of the end of December Council meetings, reported in last month’s Perspectives.

One particularly gratifying development concerns an encouraging move to aid in the rescue of an important Russian journal devoted to American history and Russian-American relations. Norman Saul, University of Kansas, has worked through the Council of the Association to mobilize the editors of the two leading U.S. historical learned journals, the Journal of American History and the American Historical Review, to mount an emergency rescue plan. Amerikanskii Ezhegodnik (American Annual) is in dire need of a few hundred dollars a year in hard currency to survive; for about twenty years it has been the only Russian periodical devoted entirely to scholarship in American studies. The two editors, David Thelen and David Ransel, have adopted the plan and have good prospects of success.

Late February and the month of March, in which members will be reading this issue, will be a very busy period for many Association committees. The elected Nominating Committee, chaired by Nancy Hewitt, Duke University, will meet the weekend of February 18–20 to formulate the ticket for the 1993 AHA elections. The Program Committee for the annual meeting in San Francisco in January 1994 (chaired by Linda Levy Peck, Purdue University) holds its second and final meeting on March 5–6. The Committee on Minority Historians (chaired by Joseph E. Harris, Howard University) meets on March 6; the Teaching Division (Robert A. Blackey, California State, San Bernardino) March 13–14; the Committee on Women Historians (Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Morgan State) March 20; the Joint Committee on Historians and Archivists (Robert Zangrando, Akron) March 21–22; and the Research Division (Blanche Wiesen Cook, John Jay College-CUNY) March 28–29. The Association staff is, one might say, fully committed.