AHA Member Spotlight: Conrad Edick Wright

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

Conrad Edick Wright is the Ford editor and director of research at the Massachusetts Historical Society. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, and has been a member since 1978.

Wright_PhotoAlma maters: AB, Harvard College, 1972; AM, Brown University, 1975; PhD, Brown University, 1980

Fields of interest: colonial America, revolutionary America, early national United States

When did you first develop an interest in history?
I have been interested in history almost all my life. My father, who was a historian (and a life member of the AHA), read Francis Parkman’s description of Wolfe and Montcalm at Quebec to me when I was three. With such a background, what were my other options?

What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a great many, including an edition of the diary of a Harvard College student in the late 1760s; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates (the MHS’s multivolume series of sketches of everyone who attended Harvard, now through the class of 1774); and a special issue of our periodical, the Massachusetts Historical Review, on “Massachusetts and the Origins of American Historical Thought.”

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
My interests have diversified considerably because of the nature of my job. Trained as an early American historian, the field with which I continue to identify, I ended up in a position that has called on me to work on projects ranging from the 17th to the 21st century and in almost every thematic subfield American historians recognize. Such a range of responsibilities is both very challenging and incredibly stimulating!

What do you value most about the history profession?
I value the people. As director of research at the Massachusetts Historical Society, I network with hundreds and hundreds of colleagues every year in order to organize conferences, seminars, and fellowship competitions as well as to bring out a number of publications. The historians I work with are intelligent, committed to their work, thoughtful, and generous with their time.

Why have you continued to be a member of the AHA?
The AHA performs important professional services, especially for scholars at the start of their careers. Those of us who have benefited from the efforts of past generations have an obligation to pay it forward. Supporting the AHA is one worthwhile way to meet this duty.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?
I love New England! My roots are here, my wonderful family is here, and this is where I always want to be.

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