From the Executive Director
Washington Notes, September 1992
Samuel R. Gammon, September 1992
The first fall issue of Perspectives always reports on the actions of the Council at its spring meeting, which takes place too late in the academic year to be covered in the May/June issue. As the governing body of the Association under our 1974 constitution, the Council addresses a number of issues recommended to it by the various committees, both elected and appointed, as well as taking up matters of policy concern of major importance. It also approves the budget for the coming fiscal year (July 1–June 30), and this year accepted a plan for another in the long chain of balanced budgets, with which the Association has been blessed since the mid-eighties.
One of the most difficult decisions made by the Council resolved an exacerbated case of alleged plagiarism, which the Professional Division had passed on to it. With the assistance of specially qualified advisors, the Council found that plagiarism had not occurred, but rather an insufficiency of acknowledgment of one particular source, that undoubtedly contributed to the concerns of several plaintiffs.
The Council also dealt with a number of appointments and honors. It made a decision on three awards for scholarly distinction, which will be announced at the December Annual Meeting; it approved the appointment of Professor Avery Andrews, George Washington University, to chair the 1992 Local Arrangements Committee, a position he had filled with distinction eight years ago; and it noted with concern the overwhelming preponderance of Americanists and Europeanists on the Nominating Committee's slate for the 1992 AHA elections. The Council will consider at its December meeting the question of a mandatory distribution requirement between geographic areas of specialization.
Annual meeting issues also engaged the Council's attention. It approved plans for two more "out years" of site scheduling, and the future schedule is now: Washington, D.C., 1992; San Francisco, January 6–9, 1994; Cincinnati, January 5–8, 1995; Atlanta, January 4–7, 1996; and New York City, January 2–5, 1997. This column reported in the May/June issue the Association's reaction to the exacerbated labor dispute affecting our 1994 San Francisco overflow hotel, the Parc 55, and measures taken by the AHA. The Council approved a firm warning to the hotel that if the dispute remains unsettled, the number of members opting to use the hotel's accommodations would be very small, and an offer was made to release the hotel from the contract without penalty. (The hotel, hopeful of a settlement in the next sixteen months, declined the offer, but we are looking for alternative overflow accommodations in any case.) Finally, the Council reacted to the concerns of some affiliated societies by clarifying the AHA's requirement that members of affiliates are expected to register with the AHA if they are attending the AHA Annual Meeting.
Two Membership Committee matters were acted upon. The Committee's plan to delay its next meeting for a half year was approved to give more time for the results of the numerous actions it had brought into being to be assessed, and a test was approved of a discounted one-year introductory membership targeted at an area studies association.
Another meeting of interest to members took place in Washington on April 25, when the Teaching Division held its spring session. In addition to a number of routine business matters, the Division devoted a considerable part of its meeting time to planning for longer-term actions. Since a majority of the committee was newly elected, it was an opportune time for reviewing longer-term concerns such as future pamphlet plans, the greater use of the Annual Meeting for teaching interests, graduate student recruitment, and the relationship between learned journals and teaching.
During the summer, the Association received two packets of gratifying news from the National Endowment for the Humanities. First of all, the Endowment agreed to fund the third and fourth years of our effort to compile a new Guide to Historical Literature. The Endowment provided the initial funding that enabled us to launch the project in 1991, and its continued support is critical. We are also indebted to the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mellon Foundation for generous grants that have enabled us to meet the matching requirements of the NEH awards. The project director and general editor for the Guide is Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University, and the project is housed in the history department at the University of Maryland at College Park under the direction of associate editor Pamela Gerardi.
The second piece of good news was that the Endowment would also provide funding to launch, under the auspices of the AHA, an effort to develop an electronic database on all manuscript collections dating from prior to 1900, concerning or originating in Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean, and housed in U.S. repositories. The AHA's involvement in this project dates from 1987, when we sponsored an NEH-funded conference on Hispanic archives, but the project itself has a much longer history, beginning with efforts by Latin American scholars in the 1960s to conduct a collections survey. This project will build on that earlier work, using extensive project records as the starting point for a new comprehensive survey. The project director will be John F. Schwaller, Florida Atlantic University, and the project office will be housed at the University of Florida, Gainesville. See page 28 for a position announcement for the project.