From the Executive Director

Washington Notes, October 1989

Samuel Gammon, October 1989

In France and Italy publishers' jargon for putting an issue of a periodical to bed is "to buckle it." As always, issues of Perspectives are "buckled" in the first days of the month prior to publication, and thus we are reporting headquarters' news and observations reflecting the end of the summer period. Although our very large number of public historian members are not tied to the academic year, their various employers see a lot of vacations taken in the summer months, so we are all tied one way or another to the academic year cycle. No news is thus not only good news but a good summer.

As members return from their summer pursuits we are receiving reports of interest about many activities. Two particularly successful conferences were held in early summer that deserve note for our membership. In early June at Sarah Lawrence College a roundtable discussion on the historical role of women in public policy in the United States was held, cosponsored by the college and the AHA and funded by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.

The AHA also facilitated the convening of a major conference on international women's history in July at the Rockefeller conference center in Bellagio, Italy. Women's history is now belatedly a recognized part of the International Committee on the Historical Sciences, and the conference was sponsored by the newly organized International Federation for Research in Women's History. As part of the preparation for major participation by women's history specialists in the International Congress of Historians to be held in Madrid in August 1990. Conferees included representatives from both industrial and Third World countries' historical professions.

Members will have noted that the current issue of Perspectives is fatter than usual. The continued growth of the number of position vacancies being advertised in our newsletter, though slowing its rate of increase this fall, requires so much space, that we have had to go to a forty-page issue. While we believe that most members are happy to keep an eye on the job market, whether themselves participants or not, we do need space for other news!

Headquarters staff, in addition to their own vacation times, regularly receive foreign historians (Romania, Mauritius), attend a number of conferences as participants or observers (four during August and early September), and have meetings with affiliated society representatives as well as our own elected officers.

On the conference and consultation front, we observed part of the August meeting of the NEH Council devoted to discussing the delicate problem of NEH regrants. (This reflects the brou-ha-ha stirred up by National Endowment for the Arts regrants to controversial, if not repugnant, photography exhibits.) Staff also sat in on a U.S. Institute for Peace discussion of the problems of civil conflict in Ethiopia. Late in August the National Academy of Sciences hosted a two-day meeting on the future of the social sciences in the USSR and possible courses of action by these disciplines in this country. Over the Labor Day weekend, members of the Council attended a joint meeting with OAH representatives to consider the important and growing problem of the shrinking supply of minority historians and what can be done about it.

We also held meetings with representatives of the Society for History in the federal government to plan the next edition of our joint directory of historians and history programs in the U.S. government.

Finally, to verify the all-work-and-no-play adage and, incidentally, to confirm the high state of headquarters talent and morale, a cooperative, staff-produced, pot-luck luncheon was organized in mid-August to be enjoyed by all the staff not absent from the city. It can fairly be described as a broadening experience for all.