AHA Champions Historians’ Work, Free Speech, Funding, and Archival Access
During the uncertainty of a global pandemic, a tumultuous election cycle, and increasing scrutiny of historians and their efforts, the AHA remains committed to advocating for historians, their invaluable work, and its centrality to the understanding of current events. In December and January, the AHA issued statements and letters defending a terminated faculty member, promoting access to records in archives at home and abroad, encouraging funding for historians, and bringing historical perspective to the heinous acts of domestic terrorism at the Capitol.
AHA Expresses Concern Regarding Termination of History Professor
On December 22, the AHA sent a letter to the chancellor and provost of the University of Mississippi expressing concern about the university’s decision not to renew the contract of Garrett Felber, assistant professor of history, and the possibility that Professor Felber’s activism relating to racism and incarceration might have affected a decision on his employment status. The letter also raised questions of procedure regarding this disciplinary action, citing the AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.
AHA Joins Coalition to Save National Archives Facility in Seattle
On January 4, the AHA joined the Washington state attorney general’s office; the state of Oregon; 29 tribes, tribal entities, and Indigenous communities from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska; and eight community organizations, historic preservation organizations, and museums in filing a lawsuit “to halt the federal government’s unlawful and procedurally deficient sale of the National Archives at Seattle facility.” The government plans to transfer the Seattle facility’s records, most of which have not been digitized, to archive centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and Riverside, California—rendering public access to the records difficult, if not impossible, for millions of users.
AHA Expresses Solidarity with Mexican Historians
On January 4, the AHA issued a statement expressing solidarity with “professional historians affected by the extreme and arguably punitive fiscal retrenchment affecting Mexico’s system of higher education.” The AHA “reminds decision makers that the habits of mind and knowledge that derive from the study of history have never been more important and deserving of adequate funding than at the present moment.”
AHA Statement on Ransacking Democracy
On January 8, the AHA issued a statement condemning “the actions of those who, on January 6, stormed the United States Capitol, the seat of the nation’s legislature, the heart of its democratic form of governance.” The AHA deplores the “inflammatory rhetoric of all the political leaders who have refused to accept the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 election and thereby incited the mob.” As of January 15, 58 organizations have signed onto the statement. See page 4 for the full statement.
Gabriella Virginia Folsom is the communications and operations assistant at the AHA. She tweets @gvfolsom.
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