AHA Activities

1992 AHA Committee on Women Historians Report

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, March 1993

During 1992 the AHA Committee on Women Historians (CWH) continued our efforts to advance the status of the diversity of women in the profession. The members of the CWH for this year included Anna R. Clark and June E. Hahner, both of whom completed their committee terms at the end of 1992. Many thanks to both for their work and support. In addition to the outgoing members, the team included Gerald R. Gill, Margaret L. Grimshaw, and Cynthia J. Little. The Committee on Committees nominated Iris Berger and Carla Hesse, and both nominees were appointed by the Council to three-year CWH terms that begin in 1993.

The CWH continued to work on several projects, often with other AHA committees on activities of joint concern. With steadfast assistance from AHA staff, primarily Noralee Frankel, we met several goals. First, we completed and distributed a "Survey on Experiences of Gay and Lesbian Historians," which was published in the September 1992 issue of Perspectives. The dual goal of the survey was to gather information about experiences of discrimination and to use the results to inform the profession about ways to avoid discrimination on the basis of lifestyle. The committee analyzed the data and presented the findings during the business meeting of the Committee on Gay and Lesbian History. Perspectives will publish a summary of the survey findings and the committee's recommendations later this year. Second, the CWH worked with the Committee on Minority Historians (CMH), offering suggestions for authors on women's experiences for the CMH pamphlet series, "Diversity within America." Third, the CWH persists in monitoring the debate on gender/racial-integrated AHA sessions. We are pleased with the progress made by the past several AHA Program Committees in this direction.

Sponsoring AHA activities and developing sessions of interest to women in the profession during the annual meetings endures. In 1991 the guest speaker at our annual Women's Breakfast in Chicago was Darlene Clark Hine, John A. Hannah Professor of American History, Michigan State University. Her presentation, "Black Women's History, White Women's History: The Juncture of Race and Class," exemplified the scholarly and professional crossroads where we find ourselves grappling with questions about diversity. With the largest attendance in AHA Women's Breakfast history, guests were well pleased with Hine's presentation. In addition to the breakfast meeting, the CWH sponsored the session, "Re-visioning the Political: How Does Gender Structure Class?" This session complimented the breakfast presentation with its focus upon class diversity.

Expanding our tradition of cooperation with women's committees and women's organizations in the profession, the CWH worked on two projects. We finalized a series of conference presentations aimed to assist women graduate students entering the profession. The series, "Working Lives," was initiated with a well-attended session at the December 1992 AHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. It will be followed by a session at the 1993 Organization of American Historians meeting in April and by one at the 1993 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians meeting in June. The session presenters explain how they have met the challenges of integrating a professional career with personal responsibilities. In planning the next AHA annual meeting in San Francisco in January 1994, the CWH has been cooperating with the Association of Black Women Historians in developing at least one session highlighting recent research on the experiences of African-American women.

Submitted by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
Morgan State University
Chair, Committee on Women Historians