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Executive Director’s Report

By Kristine McCusker

            Why does the OHA choose a specific conference site? What’s a food and beverage budget? Why can’t we hold our conference in Tennessee (or Alabama or Mississippi or Iowa)? 

            After each conference, we get suggestions regarding where to hold our next conference, and I thought it might be useful for the Executive Office to describe how we go about choosing our conference sites. 

            First, we work with a meetings procurement organization called Helms Briscoe. Our representative, Katherine, knows our organization well and works hard to find us places that we can both afford and that we might enjoy visiting. 

            Second, we look for hotel/conference spaces that have food and beverage (F/B) budgets within our budget. The Council recently approved an increase in the amount we are required to spend on food and beverage from $20,000 to $30,000. To give you some comparison, the Organization of American Historians’ F/B budget is anywhere from $65,000 to $85,000 for a Tier 1 city like San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia or New York City.

            Third, this minimum F/B then waives any room fees the hotel might charge for the various social spaces and breakout rooms for presentations. We are also required to sell a certain number of hotel rooms, and so we appreciate it when members stay at the conference hotel whenever possible.

            Third, we look for spaces that are interesting and are walkable. Our membership likes to walk, so we look for cities that are fun to walk around and have lots of local restaurants.

            Fourth, we cannot hold conferences in 11 states that have passed absurd bathroom bills or similar anti-LGBTQ laws. Beyond being an offense to our members and potentially dangerous to LGBTQ scholars (the most important consideration here), several states, including California, will not reimburse state employees who travel to conferences in these states. Together, the states with such travel bans constitute more than 20% of our membership. The banned states include the ones mentioned above as well as South Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas and Kansas.

            Have other questions about conference site selection? Have ideas for us to consider when searching sites? Feel free to contact me at Kristine.Mccusker@mtsu.edu or my co-Executive Director, Louis Kyriakoudes at Louis.Kyriakoudes@mtsu.edu. We’d love to hear from you.

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President’s Letter

By Allison K. Tracy-Taylor

As 2019 comes to an end, I’m happy to reflect on a very busy fall for the Oral History Association. In October we met in Salt Lake City for our annual meeting, and what a meeting it was. We held concurrent meetings with the Southwest Oral History Association, and it was a wonderful opportunity to connect and reconnect with our colleagues in the Southwest.

            One major highlight of the meeting was keynote speaker Isabel Wilkerson. Prior to joining us in Salt Lake City, Ms. Wilkerson read our recently updated Principles and Best Practices. She was so engaged by it, she wanted a chance to talk more with those who had worked on the 2018 update. Fortunately, Sarah Milligan and Troy Reeves were close by, and they, along with a handful of attendees, were able to talk with Ms. Wilkerson during the keynote lunch about oral history, her work and our own. Along with her compelling talk and book signing afterwards, our whole afternoon with Ms. Wilkerson is something I’ll not soon forget.

            Speaking of Principles and Best Practices, if you haven’t had a chance to read the newly added Archives document (approved at this year’s business meeting), you can check it out here. We are working to add another document to the Principles and Best Practices suite: one on social justice and oral history. While the core best practices documents serve as a general guide for all practitioners, the social justice document will cover the special needs and considerations for practitioners working with or in areas of social justice work or movements. If you’d like to offer feedback or share your own experiences around oral history and social justice work, please contact the office.

            I’ve also convened two task forces, the first being the Independent Practitioners Task Force. Having worked independently for three years now, I have experienced some of the many challenges independent practitioners face and the lack of resources available. With the Independent Practitioners Task Force, it is my intention to better chart the often-difficult landscape independent people navigate and to provide meaningful support and advocacy to help them establish, maintain and build careers. Sarah Dziedzic and Jess Lamar Reece Holler have generously agreed to co-chair, and I’m excited to see the great things they accomplish.

            The second is the Financial Stability and Growth Task Force. Past President Natalie Fousekis is leading this task force, and I am grateful to her for doing so. Recognizing the need for this task force arose from the strategic planning process. As the Association’s short- and long-term financial well-being are integral to everything we hope to achieve, focused work in this area is essential.

            I wish you all the best during the upcoming winter holidays. I hope it is a peaceful and restorative time. And may we all hit the ground running in 2020.

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It’s OHA Membership Renewal Time – Stay Connected in 2020

We want you to continue your connection to the OHA network of oral historians!  It’s never been easier to renew your membership:

  • Current members will receive a renewal reminder email with instructions
  • You can visit our Membership Site, and click the blue “Join or Renew Now” Button
  • Or you can fill out and mail in this PDF Membership Form

Reminder to New and Renewing Members:

Starting in January 2020, the Oral History Review will be published by Routledge. As part of the transition to the new publisher, OHA members will have the chance to determine how they would like to receive the journal. All members will still have digital access to past and current issues of the OHR through Memberclicks. However, members will need to opt in to receive a print version of the journal, which will be sent twice a year.

To opt in to receive the print version of the journal, please update your membership profile: https://oha.memberclicks.net/update-member-profile

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