Published Date

March 5, 1974

From the Report of the AHA Committee on the Rights of Historians (1974)

Princeton University


August 5, 1971

Dear ___,

The Committee on the Rights of Historians of the American Historical Association is attempting to assess the current state of academic freedom for historians. We understand that you may have some personal knowledge of a case involving the violation of the rights of a historian. We would very much appreciate your taking the time to write a brief narrative of the case to help us in our task.

The case histories we collect in this way are for the benefit of the Committee alone and will not be divulged to any other person or group, nor will we mention any individuals by name in our reports. Should you wish any additional measures for the protection of confidentiality, we would be happy to comply with your wishes. You should also realize that the Committee on the Rights of Historians is an investigatory body which hopes to make recommendations for action to the AHA, but the Committee is not authorized to take any action on its own or to serve as counsel or advocate in any case.

We are interested in learning not only about the frequency of problems involving violations of academic freedom but, more importantly, we want to know what form the threats to academic freedom are now taking in order to determine what new principles or procedures might be needed. Typically, cases arise when non-professional criteria are used in making decisions on initial employment advancement or tenure, but that is far from the only context imaginable. We would also be interested, for example, in situations which raise the issue of the freedom of the classroom or which grow out of on-campus conflict.

Whatever the context, we would like to have a description of the events of the case in as accurate an detailed fashion as you can provide, including whatever documentation you have. It would be particularly useful for us to know what procedures (notification, preferring charges, holding of hearings, etc.) were used in your case and how they deviated from the normal practice at the institution in question, what assistance was sought from outside groups (e.g. AAUP, ACLU, etc.), what action those groups took, why they declined to act, or in what ways their action may have been ineffective. What do you think the AHA as a professional organization might do to be of help in cases such as the one you describe or in those you can imagine?

Your help in this crucial undertaking will be very important.


Sheldon Hackney for the Committee
Elizabeth Brown
Alfred Young
Winton U. Solberg
George V. Taylor