News in American History
Advocacy news and important action alerts.
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 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.
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.
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
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced effective March 4, 2019, it is changing the process for public review and comment of proposed records schedules. Under the old process, NARA published notice in the Federal Register of agency records schedules open for comment. People who wished to review and comment on the schedules had to request copies of the actual documents, submit comments, and receive responses via mail or email. Now the public will be able to access the accompanying documents online using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, https://www.regulations.gov. Click here for a NARA summary of the new procedures.
Read more here
In recent days, misinformation has gone viral on the internet that the Department of Interior is proposing to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) the destruction of valuable historical records having to do with the Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife, energy management and other important environmental issues under the department’s jurisdiction. Conversations with senior officials at the National Archives, as well as colleagues working for several major open government groups and other in the archival community has helped the NCH to clarify the situation. NARA has been most cooperative and agreed to extend the comment period on recently proposed decisions on the disposition of records to November 26, 2018, so all parties have adequate opportunity to prepare responses.
Thank you to all OAH members who wrote or called their members of congress to voice their concern about proposed cuts to the NEH earlier this year. The National Humanities Alliance (NHA), of which OAH is part, has prepared a report detailing their efforts and those to come. To read NHA Executive Director Steven Kidd's entire report, click here.
The OAH Executive Committee has endorsed the AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments. We would especially like to emphasize that:
"To remove a monument, or to change the name of a school or street, is not to erase history, but rather to alter or call attention to a previous interpretation of history," and
"To remove such monuments is neither to 'change' history nor 'erase' it. What changes with such removals is what American communities decide is worthy of civic honor."
We are grateful for the many OAH members who have spoken on this issue.
The Organization of American Historians (OAH) is pleased to announce a new resource for members of the media. With over 7,000 member historians, the OAH can connect you with subject matter experts on topics ranging from the Electoral College, executive orders, U.S.-Russian relations, and everything in between. In these contentious times, understanding our nation’s history is of critical importance.
As many of you already know, the humanities received two pieces of bad news this week. William "Bro" Adams, the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, resigned on Monday, and President Donald Trump's FY18 budget was released with major cuts to and elimination of many programs. As Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History (NCH), notes, Congress controls appropriations, Trump's budget has already met with criticism on both sides of the aisle, and the process of passing a budget is lengthy and goes through a number of subcommittees.
Posted: May 31, 2017
The Organization of American (OAH) Historians Committee on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Historians and Histories celebrates the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states and making marriage equality a reality.
In a historic civil rights ruling issued today in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage a right available to all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation. The OAH Executive Board submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petitioners written by historian and OAH member George Chauncey on the history of discrimination against gay men and lesbians in America. This brief was cited specifically by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion in today's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, as was the historical scholarship of OAH president-elect Nancy Cott and other prominent American historians.
Read the OAH LGBTQ Committee statement here.
Read the U.S. Supreme Court decision here.
Read the amicus curiae brief here.
During the business meeting at the 2015 OAH Annual Meeting, members voted to pass the following resolution asking the Washington Redskins to change their name.
The Organization of American Historians hereby adds its voice to the growing demands by Native American organizations, our sister disciplines, and conscientious people of all ethnic backgrounds, to change the name and logo of the Washington "Redskins."
In a subsequent meeting, the OAH Executive Board voted to let the resolution stand as passed by the membership.
Posted: June 6, 2015
OAH Executive Committee Issues Statement of Opposition to Indiana's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act"
On Thursday, March 26, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" despite exceptionally strong protests of the Republican Mayor of Indianapolis, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA, headquartered in Indianapolis), Visit Indy (the Indianapolis convention bureau), churches, and many individuals presenting multiple petitions. As the statements of these individuals and groups indicate, the Act does not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of Indianapolis and Bloomington residents or of Indiana's many other cities that have worked hard to welcome residents of many backgrounds and views, creating a highly diverse state. The OAH Executive Committee has issued the statement below regarding the Act and is writing the Governor and the leaders in the Indiana House and Senate indicating its strong disapproval of this Act.
"The Executive Committee of the Organization of American Historians, headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, strongly urges the Indiana Legislature and Governor Mike Pence to repeal the 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' signed into law March 26, 2015. The Act carries alarming potential for abuse in the form of discrimination on many grounds--religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. The OAH strongly condemns any legislation that can be employed to discriminate against any person, whether on the basis of 'any exercise of religion' or simple personal ethnic or racial prejudice. The OAH Executive Committee urges the immediate repeal of this Act to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all residents of the State of Indiana and visitors to the state."
An article was written in The New York Times on the reactions of Indiana citizens and businesses. That article can be read here.
The Organization of American Historians is an external agency of Indiana University and is housed on the Bloomington, IN campus. The President of IU, Michael McRobbie, issued a statement about the passing of the new law. It can be read here.
In an unusual move, the Indianapolis Star on March 31, 2015 placed an editorial on its front page demanding that this bill be fixed - read more here.
Earlier articles in the Indianapolis Star about the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act":
- What the 'religious freedom' law really means for Indiana
- Thousands in Indy protest 'religious freedom' law
The text of the new law can be read in full here.
The OAH has submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the same-sex marriage case, James Obergefell, et al. vs. Richard Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Public Health. Written by OAH member George Chauncey, professor of history and American studies at Yale University, the brief focuses on the history of discrimination against gays. Opening oral arguments are expected to be heard in the last week of April, with a decision to be issued the last week of June.
From the OAH President. In his February 2014 column in OAH Outlook, OAH President Alan M. Kraut stresses the importance of open scholarly discourse when historians debate the issues surrounding important subjects. Read more >