National Coalition for History

AHA Message on the New Presidential Budget Request

What follows is a mildly revised version of a memo prepared by the National Humanities Alliance relating to the budget proposal recently submitted to Congress by the Trump administration. In addition to housing the National Coalition for History which coordinates activity among history organizations, the AHA is an active member of the alliance. The AHA will keep historians up to date on what is happening here in Washington, DC, and what we would like you to do at various stages. We ask that you act only when we think it’s useful.

Contact Congress Immediately Regarding FY 2018 Federal Budget

This morning the Trump administration released its “America First” budget blueprint. We are not surprised by either the breadth or depth of the recommended cuts, given the rhetoric, rumors, and policy rationales that have circulated through Washington over the past two months. Indeed this expectation has shaped our general “wait until the document lands” approach to action alerts. As we have emphasized before, we ask our members to act only when we think it’s an issue of vital importance and will make a difference.

Oral History Research Excluded from IRB Oversight

By Lee White

On January 19 the federal government issued its final rule governing Institutional Review Boards, which “explicitly removes” oral history and journalism from the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects. It was originally promulgated as the “Common Rule” in 1991. The historical community, collaborating through the National Coalition for History, has long argued that scholarly history projects should not be subject to standard IRB procedures since they are designed for the research practices of the sciences. The new IRB rule goes into effect January 19, 2018.

Urge the House to Fund K–12 History and Civics Education!

By Lee White

In December, President Obama signed into law a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The “Every Student Succeeds Act” restored funding for K–12 history and civics education that was eliminated five years ago. Unfortunately, when the president’s budget request was released on February 9 it did not include appropriations for the major new program source of funding for history and civics.

Federal Proposal Would Eliminate IRB Oversight of History

By Zach Schrag

Historians have long complained about interference with their work by institutional review boards (IRBs), university-based ethics committees charged with protecting people who participate in experiments and other forms of human subjects research. Though well intentioned, IRB members and staff frequently fail to understand the differences between psychology experiments and genetic research on the one hand, and oral-history interviews and archival research on the other. For instance, they have sometimes insisted that oral historians disguise the identities of their narrators or destroy audio recordings, even though the identification of narrators and the preservation of their stories are central to the discipline.