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A panel discussion at the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, April 9, 2016, in Providence, RI

Saturday Highlights at OAH 2016


There was a steady hum of conversation in the exhibit hall throughout the day. In the morning, the Hub offered spaces on the edge of the exhibit hall for prospective authors to meet with publishers. Publishers who participated this year included University of Chicago Press, Duke University Press, McFarland Publishing, Southern Illinois Press, SUNY Press, Temple University Press, and Wiley. OAH members attending the meeting were able to sign up for a 15-minute meeting with a participating publisher to discuss their work. Several participants (presses as well as attendees) applauded this new initiative, likening it to speed-dating, and by the end of the day, even more publishers were talking about arranging to take part next year.


This year’s exhibit hall layout featured a concession stand and lots of cafe-style seating, providing an easy spot to sit, recharge devices, and catch up throughout the day. At lunch on Saturday, the OAH’s new Chat Room activity commandeered 6 tables in that area, drawing small groups of historians together to informally discuss topics of mutual interest. “Teaching Violence in the Classroom,” the ins-and-outs of journal and monograph publishing, “When Stuff Matters: How Objects of Controversy Can Spark Civic Engagement,” and “Historians without Borders: Collaborative Projects in the Digital Age” drew the most interest, but all topics featured lively discussions.

Among the best-attended concurrent sessions Saturday were: “Whatever Happened to the Liberal Tradition in American Politics?” “New Directions in the History of Abolitionism and Antislavery,” “Legacies of Leadership: Defining the Presidency in the Early Republic,” “Christianity and Capitalism in the Modern United State: Historians Respond to Kevin Kruse’s One Nation under God,” and “The World the Civil War Made: Revisiting and Revising Reconstruction.” 


At the afternoon’s business meeting, OAH Executive Director Kathy Finley, announced that this year’s Annual Meeting attendance was 1,700.

The award ceremony began with the presentation of the new John Higham Research Fellowship to Evan Taparata  (University of Minnesota). “This inaugural John Higham Research Fellowship is awarded to graduate students working on their dissertations in areas congenial to those topics that animated Higham’s work,” said the award’s presenter, William Joyce, Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair for Special Collections, emeritus, Pennsylvania State University Libraries. “We believe that he would have been pleased to know that his name was attached to a fellowship designed to encourage the work of rising historians.”

The Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award was presented to Nancy A. Hewitt, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University. The awards committee remarked, “Occasionally an educator appears on the scene with a talent for individual mentorship that is so great, so charismatic that her accomplishments can best be measured in the satisfaction and achievements of those whose lives they have touched in a direct and personal way. That is especially true of this year’s recipient of the Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award. Many who wrote in support of Nancy Hewitt’s nomination praised her peer mentoring of scholars at her home institution and across the profession. Those who know her best—her colleagues, her fellow historians—know that the measure of Nancy Hewitt’s contribution is perhaps most reflected in the undergraduate and graduate students whom she has mentored over the years.”

Kudos to all award winners, listed here.

Outgoing OAH president Jon Butler offered his Presidential Address,”God, Gotham, and Modernity,” as the final plenary of this year’s meeting. Butler is Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies at Yale University and an Adjunct Research Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

The presidential address was live-streamed on the OAH’s YouTube channel, another first for the organization.


Did you live tweet a panel that we missed? Tweet us @The_OAH and let us knows!

Some tweets that caught our eye: