OAH Constitution and Bylaws

The OAH is 501(c)3 nonprofit organization governed by an Executive Board composed of fifteen elected volunteer leaders.


Article I – Name

The name of this Organization shall be the Organization of American Historians.

Article II – Mission

The Organization of American Historians promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.

Article III – Membership

Section 1

Membership in the Organization is open to anyone interested in American history. The Executive Board shall have the power to create, alter, or eliminate classes of membership and to establish the dues for each membership class.

Section 2

Institutions may subscribe to the publications of the Organization, but they are not eligible for membership.

Article IV – Officers and Terms of Office

Section 1

The officers of the Organization shall be a President, a President-Elect, who shall succeed to the presidency at the end of his/her term, a Vice President, who shall become President-elect at the end of his/her term, an Editor of the Journal of American History, an Executive Director, and a Treasurer. The Editor and Executive Director shall serve as nonvoting members of the Executive Board.

Section 2

The officers, together with former Presidents who continue to serve for two years immediately succeeding their presidency, and nine elected members shall constitute the Executive Board. Officers and other members of the Board must be members of the Organization and will exercise the fiduciary, legal, ethical, and philanthropic responsibilities of a nonprofit board.

Section 3

The President, President-Elect, and Vice President shall serve one-year terms. Members elected to the Executive Board shall be elected for three-year terms.

Section 4

In the case of death, disability, or resignation of the President, the President-Elect shall succeed as President. In the case of the death, disability, or resignation of both the President and President-Elect, the Vice President shall succeed as President. In the case of the death, disability or resignation of the President, President-Elect, and Vice President, the most recent past President shall serve as President Pro Tempore.

Section 5

The Executive Editor and the Executive Director shall be appointed by the Executive Board. The Treasurer shall be appointed by the Executive Board for a term of five years.

Section 6

The term of office of elected officers shall begin with the adjournment of the OAH Annual Meeting.

Article V – Elections

Section 1

There shall be an annual election by mail or e-mail ballot.

Section 2 – Nominations

Nominations shall be made by a Nominating Board including nine persons elected by the membership. Members of this board shall serve three-year terms, with three being elected each year. The President-Elect shall appoint one of the second year members to serve as Chair during his or her third year. The Second Past President shall also be a voting member unless unavailable for this service, in which case the President shall appoint another Past President to serve. The Executive Director will serve as staff liaison and will attend all meetings. The Nominating Board shall report to the Business Meeting its nomination of a candidate for Vice President. Each year the Nominating Board will nominate a slate of at least six candidates for the Executive Board. The Nominating Board may choose to pair any or all candidates on the ballot. Voting members of the Organization will be asked to vote for not more than three candidates. In addition, the Nominating Board will select two or more candidates for each vacancy on the Nominating Board. These nominations shall be communicated to the Executive Director before July 1 and to the membership before October 1. One hundred voting members of the Organization may present a petition for an additional candidate for any office open for election, such petition to be presented to the Executive Director by October 15. The names of persons so nominated shall be placed on the official ballot, being identified as “candidate by petition.” The ballot shall also contain a space where members may suggest candidates for the following year.

Section 3 – Voting

The Executive Director shall prepare and make available the official ballot to the membership at least six weeks before the OAH Annual Meeting. Ballots, to be valid, must be cast electronically or returned by regular mail at least two weeks before the OAH Annual Meeting to the Nominating Board Chair at the address of the OAH Executive Office. The Executive Director shall report the results to the Chair of the Nominating Board at least one week before the annual meeting. The Executive Board shall be empowered to fill all vacancies occurring between elections or a term of office and to resolve any tie votes. The election results shall be announced at the annual Business Meeting and in the September issue of the Journal of American History.

Article VI – Powers and Duties

The Executive Board shall have the final and legal responsibility for the management of the Organization. It shall have general charge of the affairs of the Organization including the call and the conducting of the annual and special meetings, supervision of business affairs and development, including the hiring of a certified public accountant to audit the Organization’s books, the publications program, and any other programs adopted by the Organization. The Executive Board shall be presided over by the President. It shall establish such committees from among its members as necessary to carry out its responsibilities in an efficient manner. A quorum of the Executive Board shall be seven voting members.

Article VII – Annual Business Meeting

  1. The annual business meeting of the Organization shall take place during the Organization’s annual meeting held each spring.
  2. A parliamentarian shall be appointed by the president and shall advise the president on conducting the annual business meeting. Robert’s Rules of Order shall govern the meeting’s conduct.
  3. A quorum of the membership for the Business Meetings shall consist of twenty-five members. However, when resolutions are to be discussed, debated, and acted upon the quorum shall consist of one hundred members. 

Article VIII – Amendments, Bylaws, and Business Resolutions

Section 1

Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed by the Executive Board, by [members attending] the annual Business Meeting through a motion adopted by a simple majority, or by a petition signed by one hundred (100) members and submitted to the Executive Director. All proposed amendments, along with clarifying information and pro and con arguments, must be submitted to the total membership through a mail and/or e-mail ballot, and for ratification require a favorable vote by two-thirds of the members voting.

Section 2

The Organization must adopt bylaws to specify any added conditions of membership, procedures for holding annual meetings, duties or terms of officers, and requirements for fiscal responsibility, to constitute and empower permanent or recurring committees, and to make other changes in operational procedures as necessary, so long as they remain consistent with the mission of this Organization as stated in Article II. New bylaws, or amendments to existing bylaws, may be proposed by the Executive Board, by [members attending] the annual Business Meeting through a motion adopted by a simple majority, or by a petition signed by one hundred (100) members and submitted to the Executive Director. However originated, such bylaw proposals shall be voted on by the Executive Board. If approved by a majority of the Board members the bylaw changes take immediate effect.

Section 3

Proposals for action by the Organization, consistent with Article II of this Constitution, which do not involve changes in the Constitution or Bylaws, shall be made in the form of ordinary motions or resolutions to be submitted to the annual Business Meeting. All such motions or resolutions submitted at the Business Meeting must first be submitted at least forty-five (45) days prior to the meeting to the OAH Executive Director and the OAH Parliamentarian and be signed by fifty (50) members in good standing. If these conditions are met, then the OAH membership will be notified via electronic communication thirty (30) days in advance that this resolution will be presented at the Annual Business Meeting. [Note: a quorum of one hundred (100) members must be present to discuss, debate or act upon a resolution–see Article VII, Section 3.] Motions or resolutions presented by the Executive Board become effective when carried by a simple majority vote of the meeting. Motions or resolutions originated by members and adopted by a majority of the meeting and Executive Board motions or resolutions amended on the floor may be reviewed by the Executive Board at its next meeting, but if rejected by the Executive Board must be submitted to the full membership in a mail and/or e-mail ballot accompanied by a summary of the pro and con positions as developed in the debates within the Business Meeting and within the Executive Board. Such a motion or resolution is adopted by a favorable majority vote of the members voting.


Revised and amended by the OAH Executive Board on November 17, 2023.

I. Meetings

The Executive Board shall set a date between March 1 and May 15 or whenever the Executive Board approves another appropriate time and place of the Annual Meeting at least two years in advance of said meeting. The Annual Meeting should be scheduled so as not to interfere with either the Easter holiday or the Passover holiday.

II. Duties of Officers

  1. The President shall preside at the official meetings of the Organization and the Executive Board and shall perform all duties of the presiding officer, including the appointment of ad hoc committees. The President shall also fill service and award committee vacancies created by a member’s death or resignation that occurs between the annual appointment meetings of the Committee on Committees.
  2. The President-Elect shall appoint the Committee on Committees, including its chair, and serve in the absence of the President.
  3. The Vice President shall appoint the Program Committee and the Convention Local Resource Committee.
  4. The Executive Director shall be responsible for the business affairs and operations of the Organization under the direction of the board and shall keep current, timely, and accurate records and ensure legal and other compliance with external entities as required. The Executive Director shall have a job description specifying accountabilities, duties and responsibilities, and annual performance goals against which he/she shall be reviewed for performance.
  5. The Executive Editor shall be accountable and responsible for all scholarly aspects of the Organization including but not limited to the publication of the Journal of American History, the OAH Magazine of History, special issues, and online scholarly content. The Executive Editor shall have a job description specifying accountabilities, duties and responsibilities, and annual performance goals against which he/she shall be reviewed for performance.
  6. The Treasurer shall supervise the disbursements of funds, shall report to the membership annually on the financial status of the Organization, shall, together with the Executive Director and Executive Editor, prepare a proposed budget each spring for submission to the Finance Committee, shall serve on the Finance Committee, and shall serve as financial adviser and consultant to the Organization.

III. Committees

Committees of the Organization shall be appointed by the Executive Board, unless otherwise provided for in these bylaws. The Committee on Committees shall provide annual recommendations for service and ad hoc committees and task forces as requested by the Executive Board. The Committee on Committees shall also recommend individuals as committee chairs unless otherwise provided for in these bylaws. All committee members must be members of the Organization by January 1 of the year in which their term begins. All committee members must remain members of the Organization throughout their terms. To the extent possible and appropriate, committee members should reflect the diverse constituencies of the profession.

A. Standing Committees
There shall be four standing committees of the Organization: Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Committee on Committees, and Nominating Board.

1. Executive
The committee is composed of the officers of the Organization and the immediate past President. The Executive Committee acts as necessary between board meetings to make decisions to further the mission of the Organization.

2. Finance Committee
This committee shall consist of the incumbent President, President-Elect, immediate past President, Vice President, Treasurer, and chair of the Executive Board Standing Committee for Finance as voting members, and the Executive Director and Executive Editor as nonvoting members. The committee shall receive and review quarterly reports on the financial situation of the Organization, such reports to be provided by the Executive Director. The committee shall meet each fall to review the budget and overall financial situation of the Organization including investments, to develop any necessary budget adjustments for proposal to the Executive Board, and to develop recommendations for ongoing operations and investments. The committee shall meet each spring to review, modify, and approve the proposed budget prior to its presentation to the Executive Board and to consider other matters within its responsibility. The committee shall also project long-range needs and probable constraints—budgetary and otherwise—with regard to future years. The committee shall meet at all other times when called by the President, the Executive Director, or the Treasurer. Committee meetings may be conducted in person or through an electronic medium.

3. Committee on Committees
The ten-member Committee on Committees will recommend candidates to fill all regular annual vacancies on the service and awards committees of the Organization, subject to the approval of the Executive Board. The President-Elect will annually appoint members to fill vacancies on the committee. Committee members shall serve for two years. 

4. Nominating Board
The Nominating Board nominates candidates for the annual election of the President, President-Elect, and Vice President as well as three members each of the Executive Board and the Nominating Board.

B. Service Committees and Ad Hoc Committees or Task Forces
The Executive Board may create other service committees for any purpose. Each such committee shall have a specific charge and deliverables defined by the Executive Board. Each such committee shall counsel and otherwise assist the Executive Board and staff and recommend positions to be taken by the Executive Board on policies, plans, and projects within the purview of that committee as stated in its committee charge.

C. Award and Prize Committees
The Organization of American Historians sponsors or cosponsors awards, prizes, fellowships, and grants recognizing scholarly and professional achievements in American history. Recipients are expected to exemplify the discipline’s highest professional ethics.

IV. Dissolution

Upon dissolution of the Organization, any assets remaining after payment of obligations shall be distributed to one or more nonprofit entities exempt from Federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and focused on charity and education in the field of history, as may be determined by the Executive Board.