On January 5th, at the annual meeting in Atlanta, William Chafe, James Grossman, Lynn Hunt, Earl Lewis, Danielle McGuire, Stefan Tanaka, and Paula Michaels*—the names behind the Working Group on the Future of the American Historical Association—fielded questions and received suggestions on how the AHA can better serve its constituents and expand its membership base in the coming years. Meeting attendees encouraged the panel to find new ways to increase diversity, lobby state legislators on behalf of the profession, and generate more interest in disability history. William King, professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, suggested that the AHA forge closer ties with groups specializing in minority history, like the Society for the Study of African-American Life and History. Linda Shopes, a historian with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, wants the Association to be more involved in state legislative debates over funding for history-related projects. And several audience members, including Frank Wyman from Drew University and Cathy Kudlick from UC-Davis, challenged the panel to raise the profile of disability history. With ideas like these, our future looks bright indeed.
*Paula Michaels’ name was regrettably left out of the original blog post.