Dwelling as they usually do in dark and dusty archives or hallowed halls of academe, historians are not often linked to deeds of derring-do and bravery. But AHA member James Coll was recently in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there, and helped to save at least six lives, it has been reported.
Coll, an adjunct professor of history and social sciences at the Nassau County Community College and the Suffolk County Community College (both in New York State), and who also works as a detective in the New York Police Department’s elite emergency squad, was a part of the 40-member emergency rescue team that went from the NYPD to Haiti after the earthquake.
Last month the New York Times noted that the first decade of the new century is just about to officially slip into history and wondered what the results of that "beloved and enduring parlor game known as ‘Name That Decade’" would be. Historians frequently chafe a bit at reductive labels such as the "Roaring Twenties." Nevertheless, the urge to categorize is nearly irresistible, and since it is also virtually inevitable, we are asking AHA members to offer their suggestions–by posting in the comment section below–for a catchy phrase that can wittily sum up the decade.
We are pleased to announce the establishment of an Early Career Member category, to assist junior members of the profession in their transition from graduate school into long-term employment in the profession.
For years now, younger members of the Association have chafed at the doubling of dues when they switch from student to regular member, and quite a few have indicated they had dropped their memberships as a result. To encourage sustained membership in the Association, the new category will provide an incremental step on the path toward sustained membership—rising from the student rate of $39 to the transitional rate of $50 for the first three years after leaving the student membership category.
We are pleased to announce that a searchable edition of the Directory of History Departments and Organizations is now available online, and we are offering a special trial preview through October 31 to anyone with a web browser.
The new version is intended to make the Directory more useful for historians, administrators, and anyone interested in the history profession. Like the print version (mailed out in early October), the online Directory has information on over 820 history departments and historical institutions, and nearly 20,000 historians and history specialists.
The Members column, which is published in Perspectives on History as space permits, is designed to recognize and honor the accomplishments of AHA members. News of recent hires, promotions, publications, fellowships or awards received, and other news of a professional nature are welcomed. Entries will be published in alphabetical order by name. To submit an entry, please send your name (and affiliation, if applicable) and news to David Darlington, Associate Editor, AHA, 400 A St., SE, Washington, DC 20003-3889.
Despite the hardships in the economy, membership in the AHA actually increased slightly over the past year. In our annual membership snapshot (taken on March 31 of each year), membership rose to over 15,000 members for the first time in 35 years. While this marks an important milestone, in real terms the 15,055 members marked only a modest increase (just 152 more than last year).
And beneath the changes on the surface, there was a troubling loss in the number of members in many of the higher dues-paying categories, as many faculty members and professional historians felt the effects of the economy.
It is sometimes difficult to gain access to institutions while doing research. This is why the American Historical Association (AHA) provides Letters of Introduction to assist researchers in gaining access to foreign research facilities, special collections, and government archives. These letters are very effective because the executive director signs them and they are embossed with the official seal of the AHA. The only requirement for obtaining the letters is that one must be an AHA member. If interested, please submit a request to Matthew Keough via e-mail or by mail at
American Historical Association
400 A Street SE
Congratulations are in order for AHA member Annette Gordon-Reed, professor at Rutgers University-Newark and New York Law School, who has won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. The book recounts the history of four generations of the Hemings family up to the 1826 death of Thomas Jefferson. The Pulitzer judges said The Hemingses of Monticello is a “painstaking exploration of a sprawling multi-generation slave family that casts provocative new light on the relationship between Sally Hemings and her master, Thomas Jefferson."
The book previously won the 2008 National Book Award for Nonfiction.