2021 Virtual Participant Information

2021 OAH Annual Meeting | Virtual Conference on American History

Below you will find pertinent information to assist you in preparing and presenting at the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting Virtual Conference on American History. 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

Live Conference Dates:
Thursday, April 15 to Saturday, April 18, 2021






July 1, 2020—Speaker Agreement Due

October 12, 2020—All Virtual Response Forms must be submitted to determine participation in the conference. These are submitted by the proposal submitter or chair.
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November, 2020—Registration Opens

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

February 22, 2021—All session recordings must be complete and sent to the OAH (unless OAH is coordinating the recording)

Rerouting from an in-person to virtual conference

We had fully intended to bring scholars 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, city and state-wide restrictions, and the uncertainty of the months ahead make it necessary for us to move the conference to a safe and certain online format. The health, safety, and well-being of our attendees, participants, partners, and employees is paramount, and this is the only action that is within our power to make sure you remain healthy and safe during these uncertain times.

Sessions at the virtual conference

  1. All breakout sessions will be pre-recorded: Pre-recorded sessions reduce instances of technological issues during a live feed, and allow presentations to be edited or enhanced for a more engaging online presentation.
  2. Sessions will be delivered in two ways. Given the number of sessions and the nature of interaction in a virtual conference, we will not broadcast all sessions live:

    2a. Live Broadcast: the pre-recorded session will be broadcast at a scheduled time with full participant interaction. Participants will be logged on to take part in question and answer and engage the audience in a chat box throughout the session. Attendees will view these sessions as live events. A recording of the broadcast with the full question and answer will be available on-demand following up to 30 days. Live Broadcast sessions will be determined by the program committee.

    2b. On-demand: these sessions will be available to view at anytime during the conference and up to 30 days following. Sessions have the option to sign up for 30 minute scheduled discussion times in the Session Discussion Hall. Spaces are first come, first served, beginning on Friday through Sunday.

Step 1: Determine how you will record your session 

Please work with your group to determine the best method for recording your session

You have the option to:

  1. Self-produce: You may record your session using Zoom or another platform of your choice and upload your recording to the OAH Virtual Folder by January 15, 2021.
  2. Have the recording coordinated by the OAH: The OAH can coordinate your recording for you. Your session recording would be moderated (technologically speaking only) by either an OAH staff member, OAH committee member, affiliate group member, or volunteer. This option is only available on a set schedule and is offered first-come, first-served.

PLEASE NOTE: Session recordings will only be available to view by registered attendees of the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting during the conference dates and for 30 days following. The system will not be available to the public and no session recording or supplemental material will be available for download to anyone.

Session Delivery

An in-person session typically needs to be adapted slightly for an online format. We encourage your group to brainstorm ways to adapt your presentation into engaging online content. For instance, if you are presenting a paper presentation, consider posting the papers as files and presenting summaries with more focus on commentary and discussion between participants rather than speed reading the paper on camera. Short video clips with tips and ideas will be forthcoming.

Step 2: Work with your session participants to adapt the session for an online format

Q&A Opportunities

Sessions that are selected for live broadcast will take part in live Q&A and discussion at the time of their session broadcast. Participants taking part in on-demand sessions have the option to sign up for 30 minute Q&A in the On-Demand Discussion Hall.

Step 3: Q&A preparation

  • Live Broadcast sessions: during the live broadcast you will be able to engage attendees in a chat box. At the end of the session you will take part in Q&A. Please ensure your session recording is no more than 60 minutes to allow for ample discussion. if the discussion runs longer than 90 muinutes you may invite attendees to meet you in the Green Room Lounge to continue.
  • On-demand sessions: please determine with your session if you would like to book 30 minutes in the Session Discussion Hall. This hall will be set up similar to a virtual poster hall. As a group you will be able to provide supplemental information and talk with attendees about your session or research. Detailed information on the Discussion Hall will be comign.


Please note, each session is allotted no more than 90 minutes, this includes at least 30 minutes of Q&A. In order to maintain attendee engagement in the virtual format we  reccomend limiting sessions to 60 minutes or less. You may provide additional information by posting material such as full papers, links, or other supplemental information. 

Participation Prerequisites

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

OAH Policy for participating in the Annual Meeting: 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.

Though the online format was not what we had in mind when we first started planning the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting, we are extremely excited for the opportunity to transition the conference into this forward-looking model. In order to provide the most interactive online experience in American history we contracted a service that can provide the innovative technology and convenience to house the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting in the virtual realm. Though we will be reducing the cost of registration by about 30%, the costs associated with the use of this online venue, as well as staff, and other associated costs, will not make it permissible for us to waive the registration and membership requirements for participants.

Step 4: OAH Requirements

Please ensure that each member of your session understands that they must be registered for the conference and be members* of the OAH to have the session recording and any supplemental material posted in the virtual conference. Registration and membership requirements must be completed by January 15, 2021.

Changes to session information

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.


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 a participant fails to appear, proceed with the session as best you can, and notify meetings@oah.org to adjust the information in the virtual listing. Introduce each of the participants briefly and, if you wish, make some prefatory remarks about the theme of the session and the participants.

Your most important responsibility as chair is to keep the session moving smoothly and on time. Please note: Sessions will be cut off at the 90 minute mark. If you are chair of a live broadcast session please leave enough time for Q&A. If Q&A goes beyond the 90 minute mark please invite people to the Green Room Lounge. 

Please be firm in enforcing time constraints,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 messaging them through the Zoom private chat  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) prior to recording the session. Please consider sending a copy of the full paper to be posted with your session and recording a summary of your paper, rather than reading the paper.  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.