Laura Kamoie still receives periodic royalty statements for a book she published over a decade ago—an economic history of the early American Tayloe family, based on her PhD dissertation from the College of William and Mary. She knows that, to date, it has sold 773 copies, an ordinary showing for a first book that might be assigned in a university class once in a while. As for the next work she lists under the publications section of her CV? That one has sold over 350,000 copies.
By Antia Wiersma
On the one day between the first European winter storm of the year and a North American snow blizzard, I flew to Washington, DC, to participate in the 2018 AHA annual meeting. The United States and the Netherlands are both dealing with difficult issues regarding structural discrimination of certain groups in society, and both are engaged in vigorous debates about history and memory in the public sphere. I came to the AHA annual meeting hoping to get some new perspectives on these issues, and to see how historians in a different political and social context are tackling these debates.
By Kaete O’Connell
I arrived at my first AHA annual meeting layered in clothing and emotions. The expected trepidation (is there anything more overwhelming than stepping into a hotel literally buzzing with historians?), was coupled with curiosity and a smidge of excitement. I was attending as an observer, getting my feet wet for next year when I will be on the job market. To get the most out of a busy three days, I attended a variety of panels discussing everything from teaching methods to writing historical fiction.
Following the American Civil War, the United States engaged in a process of reconstruction that was not only political and constitutional in nature, but also had serious, lasting cultural and social ramifications for the nation as a whole. During this period, formerly enslaved southern African Americans worked to reunite with families and created communities, while legislatures and courts debated who counted as a citizen and what rights they possessed. Americans were grappling with critical questions: What would freedom look like? What national identity would emerge from war?
By Ethan Ehrenhaft
In 2009, archaeologists uncovered a small copper medallion in a pit at Fort Shirley, Pennsylvania. Dated to the early 1750s, the trinket may have gone unnoticed were it not for the single phrase in Arabic emblazoned on its surface: “No god but Allah.” Its owner was most likely an enslaved person in the service of trader George Croghan. The Fort Shirley medallion has become part of a rare yet influential assortment of artifacts connected to the lives of enslaved Muslims in the United States.
By Ashton Merck
Think tanks, also known as research institutes, advocacy organizations, and policy centers, are often described as “universities without students.” These organizations run the gamut of political orientations, thematic focus, size, and scope, but most share a common emphasis on research and writing—two core features of doctoral programs in history. Thus, working at a think tank seems like a perfect example of the kind of career outside academia that forward-thinking institutions and professional associations, including the AHA, are increasingly encouraging history PhDs to pursue.
Released in September 2017, The Vietnam War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 10-part, 18-hour documentary series, has been widely acclaimed by film critics. In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, Burns addressed the timing of the film, explaining, “You need the passage of time, the triangulation of scholarly information.” And yet, while historians—makers of such scholarly information—were consulted in the making of the series, their voices—and their interpretive disputes—are notably missing on screen.
By Claire Potter and Brian Ogilvie
Chairing a conference program committee is a humbling experience, both because of the fine people in it, and because of the opportunities it provides to encounter thoughtful and engaging scholarship. Building the program of the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, especially, offers an opportunity to see what our colleagues are thinking about across the many fields and subspecialties represented in the Association’s membership. We want to congratulate the 2018 committee for the excellent meeting program in Washington, DC, and are eager to read the proposals we receive for #AHA19.