Conferences and Workshops History

Digital History at the 2011 AHA Meeting

It’s time for my annual report/rant on the lack digital sessions at the American Historical Association annual meeting, a good gauge of what professional historians are interested in. Evidently we historians will just keep on doing what we’re doing how we’re doing it until it seems truly anachronistic. Just one of the main AHA panels, out of nearly three hundred, covers digital matters; perhaps another will touch on digital methods. By my count there are another six digital sessions overall, but these other sessions are put on by affiliate societies or were added by the program committee during lunches or other break times (that is, there were almost no digital panels proposed by historians attending the meeting). Incredibly, there are actually fewer digital sessions at the 2011 annual meeting than in prior years. Because clearly this digital thing is a flash in the pan.

OK, I’ll stop with the sarcasm. I love my colleagues in history, but it’s time for a change, and as a new member of the AHA program committee I suspect the state of affairs will be different at the 2012 meeting. For now, here is this year’s list of digital sessions at the AHA annual meeting:

When Universities Put Dissertations on the Internet: New Practice; New Problem?
[Special session added by the program committee during lunch on Friday]

Critical Issues in Bibliography and Libraries in the Digital Age
[Sponsored by the Association for the Bibliography of History and the American Association for History and Computing]

Digital Tools for Teaching and Learning American History
[CHNM‘s own Rwany Sibaja hosts a 45-minute intro/demo]

Public Media and the Case for Digital History: New Directions and Opportunities for Students, Teachers, and Historians
[Special session added by the program committee during lunch on Saturday]

What’s Next? Patterns and Practices in History in Print and Online
[AHA Session 191, co-sponsored by the American Association for History and Computing]

History and Technology In and Out of the Classroom
[Sponsored by the Coordinating Council for Women in History]

Religious History’s Digital Future
[Sponsored by the American Society of Church History]

Enhancing Historical Thinking Skills Through Teaching American History Grants
[AHA Session 269]

15 replies on “Digital History at the 2011 AHA Meeting”

Let me draw your attention to a presentation on historical social network analysis that a few historians (including myself) are giving at the AHA 2011 (, “Historical Social Network Analysis: A Practicum.” Two of us in particular attended the NEH DH summer institute at UCLA this past summer, which involved training in new software methods for doing DH for both social network analysis proper and a variety of techniques in text-mining.

Great post Dan. But do you really think that the AHA program represents “a good gauge of what professional historians are interested in?” Because interesting is not a phrase that one usually hears in association with an AHA meeting.

What is sad is the way that boring annual conference and arcane dead tree journals have become the reasons for being for our professional organizations. How about advocacy, education and outreach?

Late to the party on this thread because I missed it in October. The Dissertation panel scares me a little, because many publishers tend to pronounce that Librarians May Not Buy Your Book If Your Dissertation Is Online. Which is hogwash, unless your book is a straight reprint of your dissertation, in which case “book” is not the right word for it, and no real publisher will do that. No one has shown data that shows a real correlation between online dissertation and book sales, any librarian could talk more eloquently about book buying decisions than any publisher. I may be getting worked up over nothing, but I am glad that Ed Fox and Stuart Shieber are a part of that panel.

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