2021 OAH Annual Meeting | Virtual Conference on American History

2021 OAH Annual Meeting - Virtual Conference on American History, April 15-18, 2021, Pathways to Democracy


We looked forward to bringing practitioners of American history together to share scholarship and camaraderie at a full in-person conference in Chicago, IL, April 15‒18, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic, and city and state-wide restrictions have made it necessary for us to cancel the in-person conference and to move to a new, virtual conference in a safe and certain online format. The health, safety, and well-being of our attendees, participants, partners, and employees is paramount.

Though a virtual conference was not the initial format planned for the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting, we are excited to create and build an innovative new channel for circulating American history and connecting American historians. This is a moment when we can collaborate to develop the online interactions that enable the organization to deliver experiences for all current and future American historians.

The new format will include all the things you love about the OAH Annual Meeting, and some new benefits too:

Over the last several years we have worked to diversify the OAH Annual Meeting and provide inclusive space for all American historians. This new opportunity for interaction provides all American historians, regardless of  background, career path and level, location, and resources to participate in the scholarship, community, and networking that those attending the in-person meeting have enjoyed. 

Education and Scholarship
The virtual venue will eradicate the dreaded conflicting sessions, allowing you to see as much content as you desire‒for up to 30 days after the live event! With over 150 sessions and workshops, most attendees only get to attend a handful of sessions. With the virtual conference attendees will be able to watch as many as they like. Live sessions will be available on-demand after they broadcast.

Engagement and Interaction
We recognize that community engagement is a top reason American historians attend the OAH Annual Meeting, so we were deliberate in selecting an online venue that made this interaction easy! Just like the in-person conference, if you see someone sharing your virtual space, you can chat with them publicly or invite them to a one-on-one video chat. You also have the option to search for people you know and send them a message--meet up for a coffee or plan to have lunch!

The virtual conference includes a fully interactive exhibit hall where attendees will be able to visit, explore, and talk live with their favorite publishers and service providers. Schedule meetings, purchase books, and browse through the many offerings...oh and did we mention that you can start up conversations with anyone you bump into at the booth? Well, you can!

Explore the New Virtual Venue


At this long portal moment, our role as historians serving public needs has never been more important. Since the beginning of American history, some residents of the United States have thought of themselves as living in a “democracy,” even when vast numbers of their fellow residents were excluded from voting and full citizenship by virtue of race, gender, or lack of property. Yet, the influences from classical Greece to Haudenosaunee as expressed in the founding documents of the nation often inspired those left out of full citizenship to fight for rights that would allow them to claim the power to be full members of the civic society. In addition, discussions of modern democracy often disavow how it was built on systems of inequality and extraction: settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, imperialism.

In our own times, it is clear that democratic principles need to be living and to be protected, and the quest for civil and human rights never can be taken for granted. How has democratic practice informed American politics and culture, including the ways historians have written about the changing contours of democracy? How have the boundaries of full citizenship been reshaped by social movements and political transformation, at national, regional and local levels? What responsibility do we have as historians to inform public debate about democracy and citizenship in our teaching, research, publications, and exhibitions? How might we reimagine and reorganize our colleges and universities to respond to the immanent cascading crises of climate justice, for example, in participatory democratic ways? In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, has civic engagement by historians been renewed or diminished? The 2021 OAH Annual Meeting will address the theme of “pathways to democracy” in our past and present.

Program Committee

  • Cochair: Natalia Molina, University of Southern California, 
  • Cochair: Jack Tchen, Rutgers University-Newark
  • Elizabeth Ellis, New York University, Department of History
  • Virginia Espino, UCLA NTT, Chicano Studies, filmmaker & public historian
  • Max Krochmal, Texas Christian University, 
  • Jessica Lovaas, Harvest Collegiate HS, New York City
  • Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth University, Department of History
  • Kate Masur, Northwestern University, Department of History
  • Jennifer Scott, Director/Curator, Jane Addams Hull House Museum
  • Christopher West, Social Sciences, Pasadena City College

Local Resource Committee

  • Cochair: Kathleen Belew, University of Chicago
  • Cochair: Geraldo Cadava, Northwestern University
  • Fernando Diaz, Editor and Publisher, The Chicago Reporter
  • Kate Masur, Northwestern University, Department of History 
  • Robert Morrissey, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Liesl Olson, Newberry Library, “Chicago Studies Program”
  • Antonio Ramirez, Elgin Community College
  • Jaclyn Rodriguez, Benito Juarez
  • Elizabeth Todd-Breland, University of Illinois, Chicago


April 15 to April 18, 2021

Live Conference Dates
Thursday, April 15 to Sunday, April 18



Content Availability
Content will be available for 30 days to registered attendees


General Inquiries
812 855 7311

Sales Inquiries
812 855 5520