From the MVHA to the OAH, 1951–1981

Richard S. Kirkendall

in The Organization of American Historians and the Writing and Teaching of American History

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790562
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896820 | DOI:
From the MVHA to the OAH, 1951–1981

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This chapter traces the emergence of the OAH, chronicling the burst of membership and support for the new organization that saw its constituency vault from a little more than 3,000 in 1957 to almost 12,000 a decade later. It shows that the major shift in the period from 1951 to 1981 was the much belated recognition of women and blacks in the organization's ranks and leadership. All this, in turn, reflected the turbulent history of the 1960s and 1970s when black history and women's history became defining priorities for a generation of graduate students, in the process helping to transform dramatically the writing and teaching of American history. In historical organizations generally, but especially in the OAH, this shift resulted in substantive differences in how programs at the annual meetings were developed, who was elected to the executive board and the leadership of the organization, and how actively and publicly the OAH took on an advocacy role on national issues of race and gender.

Keywords: Organization of American Historians; Mississippi Valley Historical Association; American history; women; African Americans

Chapter.  7588 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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