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News of the Organization

Stay up to date with news of the Organization of American Historians through our “News of the Organization” section.

Jacoby, Engerman, Kelley, and Lepore are 2014 Guggenheim Fellows

Congratulations to OAH members receiving 2014 fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation! Among the 178 scholars in this year's class of fellows are Karl Jacoby, Columbia University; David Engerman, Brandies University; Robin D. Kelley, UCLA; and Jill Lepore, Harvard University.

Professors Jacoby, Kelley, and Engerman are also OAH Distinguished LecturersView the Guggenheim Fellows of 2014 >

Posted: April 22, 2014
Tagged: Clio's Kudos, News of the Organization


Hirota Honored by the Society for History in the Federal Government

Please join us in congratulating OAH member Hidetaka Hirota for receiving the 2014 James Madison Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government for his article, "The Moment of Transition: State Officials, the Federal Government, and the Formation of American Immigration Policy." The article was published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of American History, and it received the 2012 Louis Pelzer Memorial Award from the OAH. Hirota is currently a Mellon Research Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University.

Posted: April 21, 2014
Tagged: Clio's Kudos, News of the Organization


Alan Taylor Awarded Second Pulitzer Prize

Alan TaylorOAH Executive Board Member and University of Virginia Professor Alan Taylor has won his second Pulitzer Prize for his book The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832 (W.W. Norton & Company). Taylor recently joined the faculty of University of Virginia after two decades of teaching at the University of California, Davis. Taylor has been a member of the OAH since 1990.

The book is a remarkable reconstruction of a story crucial to both our understanding of slavery and of the War of 1812. Taylor shows how enslaved African Americans in the Chesapeake helped British commanders who had come to the region to attack the United States. His richly detailed narrative reveals the intersection between local knowledge, which slaves possessed but invading soldiers and sailors lacked, and the struggle for supremacy on the eastern shores of North America—a region that the British still hoped to control a generation after the conclusion of the American Revolution. The slaves' actions, in Taylor's telling, went beyond assisting the enemy of the nation. Their hopes of encouraging the British to liberate them served to confirm Virginia planters' fears of an "internal enemy" and thereby made those planters more susceptible, when the time came, to the entreaties of other southern planters who eventually decided to leave the Union. Taylor masterfully puts the careful attention of a miniaturist to the service of a bold, sweeping historical narrative, drawing out the fine lines of individual slave families and planter society to the broader analysis of nineteenth-century American slavery in transatlantic context.

The book was also awarded the OAH Merle Curti Award for the best book published in American social history on April 12, 2014, at the OAH's 107th Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Posted: April 15, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization, Clio's Kudos


"U.S. History Textbooks Today and Tomorrow" is Our Editor's Choice Selection for March 2014

Debates over what belongs in U.S. history textbooks have long reflected conflicts over whose stories belong at the center of the national narrative. Especially for K–12 textbooks, those conflicts have mirrored concerns about the cultural and political cultivation of young citizens. The Journal of American History recently convened a "virtual" panel of textbook authors, college teachers, and a publisher to discuss the present and future of U.S. history college textbooks. Read the current installment of "Textbooks and Teaching," which is our Editor's Choice selection for March 2014.

Posted: March 14, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization, News of the Profession


Open Discourse and Academic Freedom

Alan Kraut

From the OAH President

Alan M. Kraut
February, 2014

Historians must possess the right to speak freely on any subject they choose, to engage in free and open scholarly discourse with each other on any subject, and to travel without barriers for conferences and research, with rights of entry and exit wherever and whenever they choose. Without such academic freedom we cannot do our work. The Organization of American Historians (OAH) has always advocated such freedom. Indeed, our mission statement in the OAH Constitution says that we encourage “wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.”

The very diversity of perspectives that enriches academic disciplines complicates issues when a professional organization considers taking a public stand on issues not directly related to how its members do their work, especially divisive issues. “Ripped from the headlines,” a successful formula for television programs and movie scripts, is far more problematic when it comes to the agendas of professional organizations of scholars and teachers of American history.

During the past year the OAH confronted issues requiring serious consideration of the criteria applicable in deciding when and how an academic association might weigh in on public issues of the day.

In the spring of 2012, the OAH was asked by several of its members to support an amicus curiae brief in Windsor v. United States, one of the cases that successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The OAH Executive Board engaged in considerable debate over whether it should lend its support to the brief. In the end, the decision was made to support the brief, the historical analysis largely framed by an OAH member, George Chauncey. The reason was best expressed in the language the OAH crafted for the brief: “The OAH strongly recommends that prior to its decision this Court avail itself of the rich and extensive historical scholarship that exists to understand the history of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” The brief quoted former OAH president Kenneth M. Stampp who wrote, “With the historian it is an article of faith that knowledge of the past is a key to understanding the present.” In the Windsor case, American history could illuminate the issue and the OAH could support offering Chauncey’s historical expertise.

At the next OAH Executive Board meeting, we discussed the conditions under which the OAH should take a stand on a public issue in the future. OAH past president David A. Hollinger offered thoughtful criteria that were reflected in the motion passed by the board that public policy issues would be considered in the light of two criteria: “1) The case should be one of which the relevance of knowledge claims about American history is extremely high, and 2) the degree of consensus among professional historians about knowledge claims at issue is extremely high.” As the board considered the matter, its members came to believe that the amicus brief offered a remarkable professionally informed history of antigay discrimination in the United States representing a high degree of consensus among American historians on important historical patterns.

A different kind of challenge emerged in the summer of 2013. A number of e-mails from 2010 written by then Indiana governor Mitch Daniels were made public in which he described historian Howard Zinn’s A People’s History as “a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” In one e-mail Daniels also asked, “Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before any more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?” No evidence emerged that Daniels pressed the case or that Zinn’s work was ordered excluded from all K–12 syllabi, but the revelation was chilling because it came from a sitting governor and because Daniels subsequently became president of Purdue University. (Zinn had passed away in 2010.)

While scholars might honestly disagree over the quality of Zinn’s work, there could be little disagreement over the academic freedom officially embraced by the OAH. As president of the OAH, I issued a statement saying that the “OAH supports the academic and intellectual freedom of all faculty members.” I then requested that the OAH staff post on our Web site a letter from several Purdue faculty members as well as all subsequent communications from any parties who wished to discuss the issue. It was the duty of the OAH, it seemed to me, to serve as a free and open forum for all those who wished to discuss any aspect of the controversy concerning censorship and the quality of the work of one of its members. Respect for diversity of opinion by establishing a forum for free and open discourse is in my view what responsible academic organizations owe to their members and their discipline in such instances.

More recently, several academic organizations in the United States voted to boycott Israeli universities as an intervention in the complicated politics of the region. Members of the OAH may honestly disagree over those politics, but perhaps we can agree not to advocate academic boycotts as instruments to protest the policies of a foreign government. While boycott supporters claim that they seek to cripple Israeli institutions and the Israeli government, not the scholars whom these institutions employ, the practical effect is likely to prove quite the opposite. Will there be litmus tests on advocacy of Palestinian rights or opposition to the sitting government in Israel to determine which Israelis may join in U.S. historians’ conferences and research projects? And who will judge? Personally, I find institutional boycotts—which necessarily impact fellow historians and dialogue about history—an affront to academic freedom and, therefore, repugnant. More than one hundred university presidents and the American Association of University Professors have condemned such boycotts. It is my hope that those organizations adopting the boycott will rescind their support in the interest of the academic freedom they profess to value. Greater contact, not less, between Israeli and Palestinian historians has never been needed more than at the present. Seminars and conferences in the United States are excellent venues for increased intellectual exchange. Those of us who hope to heal the world by challenging injustice can have no better medicine in our pharmacopeia than the insights derived from history and free, open historical discourse. Boycotts spread the infection.


Alan M. Kraut is OAH President and the University Professor of History at American University. This article appears in OAH Outlook 3 (February 2014). 

Posted: February 18, 2014
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Organization, News of the Profession


2014 OAH Election Results

We are pleased to announce the results of the 2014 OAH Election. 

Officers 

OAH Executive Board 

OAH Nominating Board

Total ballots cast: 1,820 (27.8%) 

Terms in office begin on May 1, 2014. For more information, see the OAH Constitution and Bylaws

Posted: February 7, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization


Explore the 2014 OAH Annual Meeting Program

2014 OAH Annual Meeting ProgramThe Organization of American Historians invites you to its 106th annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, April 10-13. The premier event for students, teachers, and scholars of American history, the meeting will provide attendees with an invaluable educational experience that includes more than 200 sessions that cover the latest scholarship in US history. Browse the meeting program and make your plans to attend today!

Posted: February 5, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization


Call for Proposals: 2015 OAH Annual Meeting, St. LouisSt Louis

The program committee is now accepting proposals for the 2015 OAH Annual Meeting to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, April 16-19. The theme for the meeting is "taboos" in history.

During recent decades, historians have approached history from a wide range of perspectives and developed innovative methodologies that have opened up new fields of historical inquiry and understanding. In all fields of history, however, certain topics remain taboo. The courage to challenge such taboos, to offer fresh interpretations and to ask original kinds of questions marks the historical work that most inspires us and often signals important turns in historiographical approach. In that spirit, we invite proposals that critically and directly probe unexamined areas of history. Proposals will be accepted through January 24Read more >

Posted: January 22, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization


Severe Weather Closes OAH Offices

Due to extremely cold winter temperatures, the Indiana University campus remains closed through Tuesday, January 7.  As an external agency of Indiana University, the OAH and JAH offices will reopen Wednesday January 8. However, many staff will periodically check their emails to answer your questions.

Posted: January 6, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Releases 2013 Annual Report

The OAH is pleased to share with you its 2013 OAH Annual Report. The annual report includes reports from the president, executive director, executive editor, and treasurer, as well as updates from major departments and programs within the organization. Read more >

Posted: December 19, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Executive Board Issues Statement on Dissertation Embargoes

At its fall meeting in Atlanta, Georgia November 16-17, 2013, the executive board of the Organization of American Historians discussed the issue of temporary "embargoes" on newly completed PhD dissertations. Subsequent to its meeting, the board issued a statement.

In the academic world, a dissertation embargo usually means withholding public circulation of dissertations in print or digital form for a predetermined period of time, usually no more than five or six years. It provides authors with the prerogative of determining the most advantageous modes of publishing their work without having their dissertations already available, especially in digital form, almost immediately after a PhD is granted. The following statement reflects the board's unanimous view of this important subject.

"In an era when information in digital form can be circulated with unprecedented speed, it is more vital than ever to preserve the prerogative of newly minted PhD's to decide for themselves where and how their work is to be disseminated so that it will most benefit their career trajectories," said OAH President Alan M. Kraut, University Professor of History at American University. "It is well worth the temporary inconvenience of an embargo for a specified period of time to help our newest colleagues to best benefit from the fruits of their first labors."  Read more >

Posted: December 17, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Recognized for Innovative Marketing Plan

The  recognized the OAH at its 2013 STAR Awards Ceremony on December 12 for the best "Innovative Membership Marketing Program" for an Indiana association. The award was given for our program to recruit student and younger members into the organization. The program includes the new OAH sponsored membership program, the development of several career tools--including the Career COACH® (Creating Opportunities for Advancing our Community of Historians) Web site--the recent mentorship program, as well as new member benefits.

Posted: December 17, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Actions of the OAH Executive Board, Fall 2013

The OAH Executive Board held its fall meeting November 16–17 in Atlanta, Georgia, and took action on agenda items, including approving the minutes of its spring meeting, delaying the search for the Journal of American History editor, creating a new committee on research and advocacy, suggesting changes to the candidate selection process for the OAH Nominating Board, creating a new prize in women's history, and reinstating categories to the membership dues structure. Read more >

Posted: December 13, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Executive Board Issues Statement on Dissertation Embargoes

At its fall meeting in Atlanta, Georgia November 16-17, 2013, the executive board of the Organization of American Historians discussed the issue of temporary "embargoes" on newly completed PhD dissertations and issued the following statement.

Posted: December 13, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Balloting Now Open for the 2014 OAH Election

The online balloting system for the OAH 2014 Election is now open. OAH members have received an e-mail containing voting instructions and a direct link (with an embedded access code) to the system. The election closes on January 31, 2014

Learn about the Candidates
As outlined in the OAH Constitution, the OAH Nominating Board prepares the slate of candidates. Biographies for this year's candidates are available via Web links on the ballot and online as well. Members may vote online by following the link on the OAH Member Portal.

Posted: December 5, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Mourns the Passing of Michael G. Kammen

Michael G. KammenThe OAH is saddened to learn of the passing of Michael G. Kammen. He died on November 29 2013 at the age of 77. He served as president of the Organization of American Historians from 1995 to 1996. 

Kammen was the Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture (emeritus) at Cornell University, where he taught from 1965 until 2008. In 1980-81 he held a newly created visiting professorship in American history at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009 he received the American Historical Association's award for Scholarly Distinction. His books include People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization (1972), awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1973; A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture (1986), awarded the Francis Parkman Prize and the Henry Adams Prize; Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (1991); A Time to Every Purpose: The Four Seasons in American Culture (2004), and Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture (2006). His most recent book was Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials (2010).

Michael Kammen is survived by his wife, historian Carol Kammen, two sons, and three grandchildren. The family requests that memorial gifts (in lieu of flowers) be directed to the Michael Kammen Children's Book Fund at the Tompkins County Public Library, 101 Green St., Ithaca, NY 14850.

Further Reading

We will continue to update this page as more details become available.

Last updated 1:44 p.m EDT, December 9, 2013

Posted: December 2, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Teach American History in Japan

Tokyo Metropolitan UniversityThe University of the Ryukyus and Tokyo Metropolitan University (pictured) will serve as hosts for the 2014 OAH-JAAS Japan Residencies Program. Now in its eighteenth year, the residency program sends two American historians to Japanese universities for two-week residencies. During their residencies, the American historians give lectures and seminars in English in their specialty. Application deadline is Monday, December 2. Learn more >

Posted: November 20, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


2014 Louis Pelzer Award

Louis PelzerThe OAH Louis Pelzer Memorial Award Committee of the Organization of American Historians  invites candidates for graduate degrees to submit essays for the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award competition. Essays may deal with any period or topic in the history of the United States. The winning essay will be published in the JAH. In addition, the OAH presents $500 to the winner. The deadline for entries for the 2013 competition is December 2, 2013Learn more >

Posted: November 4, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Registration is Now Open for the 2014 OAH Annual Meeting

2014 OAH Annual MeetingRegistration is now open for the 2014 OAH Annual Meeting, to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, April 10-13. Join us at the Hilton Atlanta for four days of networking, education, tours, and special events at the OAH Annual Meeting. We have added new and exciting features to help you easily connect with colleagues, stay updated on the latest research, and get tips on best practices. Learn more and register today! > 

Posted: November 4, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


November 1 is the Deadline for the OAH China Residency Program

With generous funding from the Ford Foundation, the Organization of American Historians and the American History Research Association of China (AHRAC) are cosponsoring a teaching seminar in June 2014 at the American Studies Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University in the People's Republic of China. The deadline is  November 1. Apply today!

Posted: October 28, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization