2021 Participant Information

2021 OAH Annual Meeting | Conference on American History

Below you will find pertinent information to assist you in preparing and presenting at the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. Please read through all sections carefully and make particular note of the deadlines provided. Any questions are welcome at meetings@oah.org.


April 15 to April 18, 2021

Breakout sessions:
Thursday, April 15 to Saturday, April 17, 2021

Workshops and Half Day Tours:
Sunday, April 18


301 E North Water St,
Chicago, IL 60611

General Inquiries:  meetings@oah.org | 812 855 7311


July 1, 2020—Speaker Agreement Due

November, 2020—Registration Opens

January 15, 2021—Last day to cancel participation without  future restrictions

January 15, 2021—All participants must be have current OAH membership and be registered for the conference

March 1, 2021—Paper submissions to session chairs (paper presenters only)

March 29, 2021—OAH Room Block Closes


Should the current pandemic or its ramifying impacts hinder our ability to produce an in-person conference, we will convert the Annual Meeting to an online event. We will, at that time, request that you present your session in a digital format to post in the OAH portal. (We can offer guidance.) If the in-person meeting is canceled and you do not have a digital session format to post, unfortunately we will have to consider your presentation canceled and you will not be listed as a presenter.

Given the penalties, cancelling another in-person conference will put the organization in a dire financial position. For this reason, we will only be able to cancel the conference if we are able to enact the Force Majeure clause in our venue contract. This clause permits us to cancel the venue with minimal or no penalty, and can only be enacted if the venue is unable to hold the meeting. Often this clause will not take effect until all other options are exhausted, so, for legal reasons, a cancellation notice will only be announced at that time. Even with the Force Majeure clause enacted, the financial loss due to both expenditures and lost revenue, may result in serious financial implications for the organization and the curtailment of many of the organization’s services. Continuing the conference in an online format, though not preferred, would help in avoiding the worst-case-scenario. Regardless of whether the conference occurs in-person or online, all policies and procedures listed in the speaker agreement will be in effect. We do not plan to repeat the events of 2020, but it has taught us to be better prepared for the unexpected. Should an event like this happen, we will make sure you are informed and extend deadlines if necessary.


Due to the cancellation of the 2020 OAH Annual Meeting coupled with the costs of AV in Chicago (almost $130,000), we sincerely regret to inform you that we are unable to provide LCD projection in the breakout rooms (excluding film screenings and special events). We will be providing an online platform for all presenters to post power points, slide shows, and links that will be accessible by 2021 Annual Meeting registrants only.

Internet is not available in breakout rooms unless specifically requested by September 10, 2020. As per the program committee, Skyping into sessions will not be permitted.


Your session will be scheduled upon the submission of your speaker agreement. If you have not completed your speaker agreement, please do so as soon as possible, and no later than July 1, 2020. If you are unable to access your speaker agreement, please contact meetings@oah.org. Once you have completed your agreement, and after all sessions have been scheduled, your schedule will appear in the Speaker Center in the OAH User Portal. Room locations will be finalized in late February.

Media may be present during your session.


Please note that the conference takes place from Thursday, April 15  through to Sunday, April 18. Please make sure you are available during these days.

The OAH will make every effort to accommodate OAH committee and affiliate group conflicts. This includes all meetings and sponsored sessions. OAH committee and affiliate group participation must be noted in the speaker agreement to allow the OAH to schedule sessions appropriately, if you do not mark your committments by July 1 we may not be able to move your session once the schedule is assigned. Note: due to the high number of scheduling requests we are no longer able to accommodate for personal conflicts, such as family or work. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Changes to session information may be made after the submission of the speaker agreement. If you need to make changes to your submission  please email meetings@oah.org by August 1, 2020. Changes after this date will not be accepted.  Cancellations, additions, or changes to speakers must be emailed to meetings@oah.org immediately, and no later than January 15, 2020. 

Please note: Any speaker cancellations that occur must be communicated with the OAH at meetings@oah.org, no later than January 15, 2020.


Please note, each session is allotted 90 minutes. The 15 – 20 minutes between sessions is designed to allow ample preparation time for other session speakers and grant networking time for attendees. We ask you be considerate of the time limitations of your session.

You should be in contact with your fellow participants ahead of time to reach an agreement about respective time allocations. The OAH requires that twenty five minutes be reserved for audience participation. Please keep that in mind when allocating time for presentations, comments, and introductions.

We strongly encourage presenters to deliver ideas and arguments without reading from papers and not to exceed stated time limits. While all of us are tempted to exceed the time allowed, overlong presentations or comments eliminate the opportunity for the kind of meaningful discussion that makes OAH meetings vital.

Whatever form a session takes, we propose that all papers given adhere to the "words per minute" formula outlined below. Most speakers read 100 words comfortably in 1 minute, taking into consideration the "asides" commonly made while presenting a talk. Experience suggests most speakers and listeners find this rate comfortable.
The formula is simple:

10-minute papers = 1000 words
12-minute papers = 1200 words
15-minute papers = 1500 words
20-minute papers = 2000 words

Session chairs should remind panelists of the time allotted and thus the number of words suggested for each paper or comment. Sessions will be 90 minutes in length, with the exception of workshops (which may run longer). Twenty-five minutes should be reserved for discussion. Please take these time limits into account when planning your session.


All participants must be registered and be a member of the OAH by January 15, 2021 to participate in the conference. 

Please be aware that OAH policy requires all participants whose career is in the field of U.S. history (either as a professor/instructor, graduate student, K-12 teacher, or public or independent historian) to be members of the OAH. If you have any questions about whether the membership requirement applies in your situation, please contact us at membership@oah.org.

All participants are also required to register for the meeting. We will be providing a special presenter registration rate until January 15, 2021. We require that you be registered and be a member of the OAH by this date in order to be included in the program. Once registration becomes available later this year, we will contact you with the details.


If you are serving as a chair at the meeting, make sure that all the required material and participants are present before your session begins. If the room is missing requested equipment, contact the room monitors assigned to your room. If a participant fails to appear, proceed with the session as best you can, and notify meetings@oah.org. Your most important responsibility as chair is to keep the session moving smoothly and on time. Introduce each of the participants briefly and, if you wish, make some prefatory remarks about the theme of the session and the participants.

Please be firm in enforcing time constraints (no more than 90 minutes total), even if that means interrupting a speaker, so that all participants will have their full share of time and the audience will have the opportunity to respond. It is often helpful to alert a speaker when her or his time is about to expire by handing him or her a note indicating how many minutes remain. Audience responses must also be monitored by the chair. Please ask each speaker to identify herself or himself, and you should interrupt a member of the audience who speaks too long or otherwise inappropriately. You might also consider soliciting questions for a session participant who is being ignored or perhaps pose such a question yourself.

Paper Presenters
Paper presenters must send copies of their papers to the session chair and commentator(s) no later than February 15, 2019. To facilitate introductory remarks, please send a brief c.v. or biographical statement to the session chair.

Other Session Types
Workshops, roundtables, and other less traditional sessions are also allotted 90 minutes. Panelists on these sessions should reach agreement prior to the meeting on time allocations. Although these sessions are more flexible, it is important that the ninety-minute limit be observed and that at least 30 minutes be reserved for audience response.