Dear friends of H-PAD,
This is a preliminary report. On Saturday evening, January 6, the Business Meeting at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association voted unanimously in favor of our resolution. We had agreed to support two amendments proposed by AHA’s Council, and there was an additional one from the floor which amended one of those. Below is the final text, which the AHA will post next week. It was a harmonious deliberative process, part of an annual meeting notable for a high level of debate and engagement about how to defend the teaching of “honest history.” More reporting on the AHA and everything else H-PAD is doing will reach you shortly!
Van Gosse and Margaret Power, Co-Chairs
In Defense of the Right to Learn
[Passed at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, January 6, 2024]
Whereas, the AHA’s Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance (2017) specify that “in a wide range of situations, whether involving the rights and careers of individual historians, historical practice in diverse venues, or the role of history in public culture, the AHA has the responsibility to take public stands”;
Whereas, the AHA further stipulated, as an example, “When public or private authorities . . . censor or seek to prevent the writing, publication, exhibition, teaching, or other practices of history or seek to punish historians . . . for conclusions they have reached and evidence they have unearthed as a result of legitimate historical inquiry,” mandating that “the AHA should defend historians, regardless of institutional affiliations or lack thereof, against efforts to limit their freedom of expression, or to punish them for ideas, grounded in legitimate historical inquiry, they have expressed or material they have uncovered”;
Whereas, numerous state legislatures and officials are censoring the teaching of history in public schools and universities;
Whereas, under pressure, a number of school boards across the country are forcing teachers to censor their treatment of particular historical topics in their classes, and libraries are removing books in literature and history from their shelves;
Whereas, teachers and librarians who resist these measures have faced personal attacks and threats;
Therefore, the Association will continue to vigorously
- uphold accuracy in history teaching;
- intervene where appropriate and encourage members to organize against attacks on history and the work of historians;
- defend academic freedom and job security for history teachers at every level;
- write editorials and letters-to-the-editor defending teachers, librarians, and school board members; and
- testify before legislative bodies and school boards about the right to learn.
The Association welcomes support from its members for such activities.