OAH Launches U.S. History at 250 Project with TAH Special Issue

February 19, 2024

The Organization of American Historians has launched a multi-year project leading up to the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. The project, “U.S. History at 250,” marks the signing of the Declaration in 1776 and will feature a signature magazine series and a range of programming from webinars to town halls, with the goal of bringing Americans together in conversation about our shared past as the nation approaches its semiquincentennial milestone.

“Americans began debating the meaning of the Declaration from the moment it was published in colonial papers and read aloud in town squares,” said Beth English, Executive Director of OAH. “U.S. History at 250 will leverage OAH’s unique convening power as well as the intellectual breadth and depth of our members to guide spirited, informed, and critical discussions of our history, and highlight the multiple interpretations of America’s past.”

A foundational element of U.S. History at 250 is a nine-issue arc in OAH’s quarterly magazine, The American Historian, beginning with the Winter 2024 edition, “Rethinking Encounters,” and running through 2026. Each issue will include articles by leading OAH scholars that offer fresh insights into the broad sweep of U.S. history.   

“In this moment, the semiquincentennial is a valuable opportunity to take stock of how the history of the United States is understood and taught by scholars and teachers in all fields, and in every part of the profession,” said Stephen D. Andrews, Interim Executive Editor of the Journal of American History. “We seek to provide the widest range of audiences and constituents a broad synthesis of U.S. history that is retrospective, descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive to show how we got here, and where we are going.” 

These special issues of The American Historian will frame conversations about how the history of the United States from the colonial era to the present day has unfolded, how we collectively understand and interpret this history, and how our understanding of our shared history is likely to evolve. Over the next two years, open-access webinars, moderated conversations, scholar roundtables, workshops, and town hall style community conversations will expand on the dialogue started in the pages of the magazine and facilitate wider public engagement. 

The project will culminate in Philadelphia on April 16-19, 2026, at the annual OAH Conference on American History.

“This is a natural time of reassessment of the field of U.S. history, and the OAH and The American Historian are ideally positioned to catalyze and guide these conversations,” said OAH President Anthea M. Hartig, Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. “Through U.S. History at 250, we are able to engage a wide and diverse set of contributors and colleagues into a national conversation examining the struggles across our nation’s history to enact a more perfect union.”

By launching U.S. History at 250 in 2024, the OAH will use the lead time to the semiquincentennial to offer everyone interested in history, including educators at all levels, informative historical resources, derived from reputable, vetted, and verifiable sources. The nine-issue series in The American Historian magazine will highlight the best, most leading-edge scholarship and will serve to demonstrate the vitality of the broader discipline of American history and its sub-fields, while the Journal of American HistoryProcess: A Blog for American History, and the JAH Podcast will feature special U.S. History at 250 content.

Visit the OAH website for regularly updated information about U.S. History at 250, programming details, and special content.