News in American History

In Memoriam: Thea K. Hunter

Dr. T.K. Hunter died of congestive heart failure on December 17, 2018, in New York City. Born there on July 4, 1956, to mathematician Herman Hunter and Grace Wood Hunter, a paralegal, she is survived by one brother Eric Hunter, Providence, RI, and many friends.

Thea Kai Hunter graduated from Barnard College (B.A. in Biology and Art History, 1978), Hunter College (M.A. in Art History, 1996), and Columbia University (M.A. in History, 1998; Ph.D., 2005). Her doctoral advisor Eric Foner, speaking at a memorial service in January, praised Dr. Hunter as a pioneer in the trans-Atlantic study of law and slavery.

Her dissertation, “Publishing Freedom, Winning Arguments: Somerset, Natural Rights and Massachusetts Freedom Cases, 1772-1836,” explored the landmark decision that slaves transported to England could not be forcibly returned to the colonies. She established that people of African descent not only made claims to individual liberty but thereby transformed Enlightenment principles, bolstering the pursuit of freedom for African-descended people throughout the Atlantic World.

T.K. Hunter’s publications included “Geographies of Liberty,” in Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism (2006); and “Transatlantic Negotiations: Lord Mansfield, Liberty and Somerset,” Texas Wesleyan Law Review (2007). Her professional and personal papers will be donated to the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe/Harvard.

Dr. Hunter spent most of her career as a part-time instructor. After resigning a tenure-track assistant professorship at Western Connecticut State University in 2006, she taught a wide variety of courses at Princeton University, Columbia University, Montclair State University, Horace Mann School, Manhattan College, Brooklyn College, the New School, and City College of New York. She began a new research project at City College’s Rifkind Center for the Humanities and the Arts, as a Faculty Fellow in 2017-2018. She was first adjunct instructor selected for this fellowship.

Dr. Hunter's work as adjunct faculty was recently chronicled by the Atlantic and discussed widely on social media.

Posted: April 25, 2019
Tagged: In Memoriam


Proposed Changes to National Register of Historic Places

On March 1, 2019, the National Park Service (NPS) proposed making significant changes to regulations regarding nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. These changes would shift authority away from state, local, and tribal entities and give unprecedented power to federal agencies and large private landowners to stymie local historic preservation efforts.

The Organization of American Historians joins our colleagues at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Action, and others in opposing these amended regulations.

The NPS is accepting public comments on the proposed changes through April 30. We encourage you to go to regulations.gov and click the "Comment Now!" button to make your voice heard.

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Posted: April 25, 2019
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Profession


In Memoriam: Robert K. Murray

The OAH's longest serving member, Robert K. Murray, who joined in 1947, has died at the age of 96. Dr. Murray served as the OAH Treasurer from 1975 to 1984. Prior to his passing, Dr. Murray composed his own obituary, which can be read here. 

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Posted: April 15, 2019
Tagged: In Memoriam, News of the Organization


OAH Issues Statement on Government Shutdowns

During the April 4,2019, board meeting, the OAH Executive Board approved the following statement and sent it to the Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

The Organization of American Historians (OAH) affirms the value of the work of historians in the federal government who were furloughed for over a month due to the partial government shutdown in 2018-2019. These historians’ work is essential to preserving, understanding, and interpreting the vast array of documents, artifacts, buildings, structures, and natural resources that the federal government owns and stewards.

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Posted: April 15, 2019
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Organization, News of the Profession


In Memoriam: Anne Firor Scott

By William Chafe

Anne Firor Scott, a brilliant historian who helped establish the field of women’s history in the 1970s, passed away at the age of 97 this past February. Anne was a devoted mother, wife and grandmother, an engaged colleague, a brilliant scholar, a dear friend. But above all she was a pioneer.

Read full obituary here >>

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Posted: April 12, 2019
Tagged: In Memoriam, News of the Organization


Call for Chapter Proposals: “Where East Meets (Mid)West: Exploring a Regional Divide”

Volume editors seek proposals for chapters to be included in an edited collection focused on exploring the history, development, and culture of the Eastern edges of the American Midwest and the distinctions between the American East and Midwest. The volume is planned for publication by the Kent State University Press.

Proposals should explain the author’s general approach to the topic and include the sources to be consulted as well as the author’s curriculum vitae. Topics to be explored include, but are by no means limited to, historical understandings of the dividing line between the East and the Midwest; historical examples of friction between the East and the Midwest; examples of the transference of Eastern culture and institutions into the Midwest and, conversely, examples of the development of regionalist culture and institutions in the Midwest; general Midwestern resistance to “derivative” institutions and culture; historical and contemporary examples of frictions between the Midwestern “backcountry” and the Eastern seaboard; the geographical and topographical approaches to designating the East and the Midwest as distinct regions; literary or other cultural understandings of the dividing line between East/Midwest; the political distinctions between East and Midwest; descriptions of the growth of regionalist thought and practices that have contributed to a distinctive Midwestern consciousness; the regional identity of Cleveland; the attempt to embrace Eastern culture in the Midwest (e.g. Ann Arbor); the identity of borderland cities such as Pittsburgh; discussions of debates about whether Ohio is Midwestern; analyses of the real and perceived dividing line between Pennsylvania and Ohio; economic unities and frictions between the East and Midwest.

Chapter proposals will be due July 1, 2019. If a proposal is accepted, the author’s chapter will be due July 1, 2020. Final chapters should be approximately 7,500 words, including notes, and in Chicago style. The editors of the collection will be Jon K. Lauck and Gleaves Whitney.

All proposals should be sent to jlauck1941@hotmail.com

For further information, click here>>

Posted: March 19, 2019
Tagged: Calls for Papers


Yale Public History Institute: Accepting Applications

Yale Public History Institute 2019: "Interpreting Difficult History"

June 9-14, 2019, The Gilder Lehrman Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale University, in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), announces its 8th annual Public History Institute (PHI). Fifteen professional public historians at museums and cultural agencies in the United States, and six Yale graduate students, will be invited to come to New Haven to explore themes central to the public interpretation of "difficult history," taking account of the some of the most challenging narratives in the American past including race and racism, conquest, enslavement, economic exploitation, violence, abuse, exclusion, and stigmatization.

For an application form, email: gilder.lehrman.center@yale.edu
Application deadline: April 1, 2019

For further information, click here>>

Posted: March 19, 2019
Tagged: Meetings, Conferences, Symposia


CFP: Ohio Valley History Conference; Contested Histories in the Public

Now in its 35th year, the Ohio Valley History Conference (OVHC) is open to historians and advanced graduate students from all time periods and specializations, including public and digital history. This year’s theme, Contested Histories in the Public, will examine the ways in which historians, public history professionals, and historical affinity organizations affectively research, interpret, and teach difficult histories. The OVHC welcomes proposals for individual papers, full panels, roundtables, and volunteers to chair panels or provide comment. Graduate students are particularly encouraged to attend and present.

The Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky, will host the conference on October 3–5, 2019.

Possible topics can include but are not limited to:

  • Gender and Labor
  • Environmental Issues
  • Military History
  • Activism
  • Healthcare
  • Digital History
  • Race
  • U.S. History (open time period)
  • Museum Interpretation
  • Memory
  • European History (open time period)
  • Public History

Submission Process: For a panel or roundtable, please submit the panel title, a 100-word abstract of each paper, and a 1-2 page CV for each participant. For individual papers, please submit a 250-word abstract and a 1-2 page CV. Volunteers to chair sessions or provide comment should submit a 1-2 page CV indicating areas of interest and expertise. All proposals should be in a Word document and include the affiliation and contact information of each participant.

The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2019. Please send proposals to KHSpublications@ky.gov

Keynote Speaker: We are proud to announce the Friday night keynote speaker will be Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries from The Ohio State University. Dr. Jeffries’s research examines the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement. He is the author of the 2009 Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, which tells the remarkable story of the African American freedom movement in Lowndes County, Alabama. Dr. Jefferies’ current book project, In the Shadow of Civil Rights, examines the black experience in New York City from 1977 to 1993. Dr. Jeffries’s has worked on several public history projects. From 2010 to 2014, he was the lead historian and primary scriptwriter for the $27 million renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He hosts the podcast “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project.

Location and Accommodations: The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) is conveniently located in Frankfort, a short drive from airports in Louisville and Lexington. A block of rooms will be available the Capital Plaza Hotel, within walking distance of KHS. Several chain hotels are also located near the two Frankfort exits off I-64, along with a number of local Airbnbs. Visit https://history.ky.gov/ for directions to KHS.

Posted: March 19, 2019
Tagged: Calls for Papers


Action Alert - Help Preserve American History & Civics Education in California

Alert from the National Coalition for History

The California State University (CSU), the nation’s largest university, has proposed to eliminate the system's founding commitment to the “comprehensive study of American history and American government” as the basis for its long-standing “American Institutions” requirement. This program of study has bolstered California’s diverse democracy for 60 years, providing millions of Californians with tools necessary “to contribute to ...society as responsible and constructive citizens.” We’re asking your help in maintaining this essential part of the CSU curriculum.

Under a plan released this month by a CSU General Education Task Force, the system would cut civic education in half, and no CSU student would be required to study the history of American institutions and ideals, including the US Constitution and representative government, or the development of local and state government. This change would reach beyond the 500,000 students of the CSU, to affect over 2 million students in California Community Colleges and 6 million K-12 students whose curricula follow the lead of higher education.

Read more here

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Posted: March 18, 2019
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Profession


Information from the National Archives Regarding the Obama Presidential Library

In response to numerous questions from historians throughout the field, the National Archives has updated their website to address how the Obama Presidential Library will differ from previous presidential libraries and access to presidential records and other archival materials will work following this new format.

Read more here.

Posted: March 18, 2019
Tagged: None