AHA Today: Yesterday and Tomorrow
David M. Darlington, May 2007
In September 2006, the AHA launched its blog, AHA Today, on the Web at http://blog.historians.org. Now with the publication of this, our "history and technology" theme issue of Perspectives, it's perhaps a good time to take a look back and assess how far we've come.
AHA Today is updated daily with news of the association, events affecting the history profession, and information about prominent historians. A common subject is the intersection between history and government, and AHA Today covered such things as the federal spending on the arts and humanities, plans for presidential libraries, the goings-on at the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives, and other museums and archives, and other events that have an impact on the profession at large. The NCH Washington Update is frequently reproduced in part at AHA Today.
Education news and tools for educators are also highlighted at AHA Today. IRBs were the subject of quite a few posts. We've also blogged on web sites offering new services for both teachers and students, like Google Tools, and reported on changes at well-known services like JSTOR. Online museum exhibits and archival projects are regularly profiled, like the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, online digital repository of photos, stories, and other files meant to archive memories from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the interactive Presidential Timeline of the 20th-Century, a project of NARA's presidential libraries designed to teach kids the political history of the 20th century. On every Friday, the "Grant of the Week" is posted to call attention to special opportunities for both graduate students and faculty.
Not all blogs will attract the traffic of Instapundit. However, it can be said that AHA Today has been a modest success in its brief existence. From November 9, 2006 (the first day stats began to be collected) to April 4, 2007, the blog had 20,598 total visits, for an average per day of 140.12, and 17,729 unique visitors, for average per day of 120.61. The most heavily-trafficked day was January 26, 2007, which saw 507 visitors, when an all-member mailing went out announcing the posting of the January 2007 Perspectives on the AHA web site and providing a link to the blog. The second most-trafficked day was March 13, 2007, when 401 visitors received news that AHA members had ratified the Iraq War resolution. It's perhaps not surprising then that the blog post announcing the results of the all-member vote (http://blog.historians.org/news/166/iraq-war-resolution-is-ratified-by-aha-members) is the second most popular post in AHA Today's brief history (826 page views). The most popular is a bit more surprising, however. It's Internet Project Manager Vernon Horn's report on Middebury College's history department banning the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as a source in its classrooms (http://blog.historians.org/news/123/wikipedia-banned-by-middlebury-college-for-history-students) with 909 page views. AHA Today has been referred in other major education and history blogs, like Inside Higher Ed and Cliopatria.
AHA Today is the collaborative effort of all AHA staff, but especially of Vernon Horn and Web Content Editor Elisabeth Grant. To keep up to date on the latest news about the AHA and the historical profession, visit AHA Today at http://blog.historians.org.
—David Darlington is associate editor of Perspectives and a frequent contributor to AHA Today.