American Historical Association

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The American Historical Association (or AHA) is the largest organization for the history profession in the U.S. Its chief rival is the Organization of American Historians. Founded in 1884, its members include 14,000 college and university professors in the U.S., along with some public historians, independent scholars, archivists, librarians, and amateurs. In 1889 it was incorporated by an act of Congress. In 1898 the Association began to publish the American Historical Review (AHR), which remains the premier scholarly journal. All back issues are online through JSTOR. It also publishes a newsletter, Perspectives on History.

The AHA before 1940 identified major records in foreign archives, and published documentary records. At one point it was influential in shaping the history curriculum in the schools. Today it sponsors a major annual conference in January, which brings together thousands of AHA members and members of 100 other history societies. The AHR journal is edited at Indiana University by the history faculty and graduate students. Since 1999 the Executive Secretary has been Dr. Arnita Jones. The AHA holds a contested election every year for the mostly honorific post of president. Numerous committees award prestigious awards every year for the best scholarly history books in a variety of categories.

The organization always officially accepted women and minorities, but no African Americans were represented on the AHA governing Council until 1959, and only 15 women served on the AHA Council before 1971 (out of over 186 members).

The AHA formerly dealt with questions of professional misconduct, such as plagiarism, but has seldom played that role recently.

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