On Completing 50: Self-Reflections

Some Prefatory Notes on This Issue: Celebrating a 50th Anniversary

Editors, December 2012

Montage of CoversCompared to the long run of the AHA's 128-year history of memberships, meetings, and collegial conversations, or the 117 years of the AHR's influential and scholarly life, 50 years is perhaps nothing much to croon about. On the other hand, a newsletter that began life as a small, 8-page self-mailer in December 1962 survived all these years; and it continues to bring to the AHA's members not only news about the Association but also a veritable smorgasbord of items and articles relating to the profession. Those achievements are surely worth celebrating. Or so it seemed to the Perspectives on History editorial board when about a year ago it contemplated the rapidly approaching 50th anniversary.

Wise and practical as they are, members of the editorial board concluded quite quickly that the best way to mark the 50th anniversary of the newsmagazine (as we now like to call it) was to produce a special issue, and that it would be even better to request a guest editor to help assemble the articles for the issue. It was easy to decide that the special, commemorative issue would be published in December 2012, as the very first AHA newsletter was produced in December 1962. Equally easy and unanimous was the decision to request Lynn Hunt, a former president of the AHA and a steadfast friend of the Association, to be the guest editor. She graciously accepted, and we gave her a virtual carte blanche, stipulating only that the articles she assembles should have some connection to the thematic focus we had decided on, "The Future of the Discipline." As she explains in her own introductory essay, "The Prospects of the Present," Lynn Hunt transferred that editorial latitude to the galaxy of authors she persuaded to accept the assignments, giving them the freedom to interpret the theme in whatever ways they chose, and refraining from heavy editorial emendations. This latitude and freedom were extended also to the articles on the theme the editors had solicited to complement and add to those Hunt had gathered. We sought to reflect in the layout the eclecticism inherent in the selection and articulation of the many voices and thus set out the thematic articles in alphabetical order of the authors' last names.

The editors also commissioned a few additional articles: one that takes a retrospective look at the various incarnations of the newsletter, and a couple that we solicited from two members who just completed 50-years of their memberships (and who, incidentally, also held important offices in the AHA). We invite similar reminiscences (250 to 500 words) from other members who also joined the AHA in 1962 and have remained loyal members for this remarkable half-century (you can e-mail them or mail them to Perspectives on History. AHA, 400 A Street SE, Washington, DC 20003). We will publish them (after editing, if necessary) in Perspectives Online.

We hope you enjoy reading the thematically focused articles as well as all the other articles we included in this issue, and we wish you all the best in the coming years!