March 15, 2010
By Robert B. Townsend
Members of the American Historical Association will now be able to create interest groups (organized bodies of history specialists), under a policy approved by Council in January. The new interest groups are intended to supplement the existing affiliated societies—creating opportunities for new or underserved areas of topical and professional interest to develop within the AHA.
Drawing on the experience of the other disciplinary societies, we believe interest groups will provide individual members with a more comfortable home within the AHA. Interest Groups will be able to offer more targeted programs, such as sessions and other gatherings at the annual meeting, as well as other communications in the form of sponsored listservs, blogs, and newsletters. Ideally this can satisfy members’ particular interests, while at the same time providing an incentive to remain connected to the Association’s more general disciplinary offerings.
Members interested in organizing will be asked to submit an application, a petition from at least 50 members; and a brief memo describing the proposed interest group’s location and significance within the discipline, the types of activities envisioned for the new interest group, and how these activities would contribute and relate to the larger intellectual and professional goals of the Association. Once organized and approved by Council, the interest groups will be able to set dues that they can use to support and sponsor activities in their area of interest.
Anyone interested in learning more about interest groups or the application process should contact Assistant Director Robert B. Townsend, staff to the AHA’s Committee on Affiliated Societies and Interest Groups.