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Co-Executive Directors’ Report

By Kristine McCusker
February 2021 Newsletter

We hope that, during in the difficulties of a pandemic and political and economic uncertainty, you are surviving.

The OHA is navigating the perils of the pandemic well, thanks to the hard work of Council, volunteers and our intrepid Program Associate Faith Bagley. We are busy planning #OHA2021 and are pursuing positive approaches to holding a meeting in a time of pandemic. We are still monitoring the situation, preparing for the possibility of another virtual meeting, and will know more soon. Once we know for certain, we will send an email to the membership.

In the meantime, we are finding new opportunities to promote the organization:

  • This year, we will conduct two oral history trainings for regional library systems in Tennessee.
  • Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we are publishing online our most compelling 2020 conference sessions. They will be available by the end of February and will be open to the public.
  • Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez will be conducting an OHA-sponsored workshop on Latinx oral histories for the Organization of American Historians on April 15 from noon-1:30 p.m. EST. Special thanks to Virginia Espino for organizing this session. Pre-registration with OAH is required.

We are also helping Troy Reeves, the OHA’s new treasurer, ease into his job. He has already been a stellar support, providing good observations and wry asides as we make finance and insurance decisions. He also enjoys horrifying us southerners with horror stories of snowy Wisconsin.

We are in the process of setting up new financial systems (e.g. making Paypal a payment option) that will make it easier for our members.

As always, if there’s anything the OHA can do, please let us know. Until we hear from you then, best–or at least better–for 2021.

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President’s Column

By Dan Kerr
February 2021 Newsletter

The Oral History Association’s Vision Statement: We envision a world where a deep humanistic understanding of the past, developed through a process of listening and mutual respect, shapes a more inclusive and equitable future.

The waning days of the Trump administration posed unprecedented challenges for the United States as a whole as well as for the Oral History Association. On Jan. 6 a mob of Trump supporters sought to overthrow our democratic form of governance, displaying symbols of hate while claiming to be patriots.

Less than two weeks later, the Trump administration issued the “The 1776 Report,” which attacked a half century of historical scholarship, called for a form of government indoctrination of American students and provided ideological justification for the failed coup.  The OHA joined with dozens of other academic associations to sign onto statements issued by the American Historical Association denouncing both of these developments (January 6th Statement and 1776 Statement).

In considering OHA’s position on these statements, OHA Council and the Executive Office realized we need to make more transparent the process we have in place for making quick decisions on the issuance of public statements. Our OHA Policy on Public Resolutions states that ultimate authority to approve public statements rests with OHA Council.  However, the language that follows assumes a lengthy process linked to our Annual Business Meeting.  We hope to clarify this process with additional language that will be presented to the OHA membership this year that delineates how decisions are made outside of our annual meeting.

At any time, members can reach out to the Executive office or any Council member seeking support for public statements on issues that impact our field. If Council does not support intervention, members will have recourse to bring their proposal before our membership using the process laid out in the existing OHA Policy on Public Resolutions.

The Committee Restructuring Task Force, which seeks to realign committees so that we can more effectively push our strategic plan forward, has proposed that OHA develop a model where members can self-organize into officially recognized caucuses.

Such caucuses would provide a means for members to affect the direction of the OHA from the bottom up. Now is a great time to start thinking of the caucuses that you would like to form or be a part of.  Other ideas that are being considered include the formation of a Development Committee and Advocacy Committee.  If you have any suggestions for the task force to consider, please reach out to the Executive Office and these ideas will be considered by the task force.

After a lengthy search, the OHA now has a new treasurer, Troy Reeves.  He will chair the Finance Committee, advise the OHA on all budgetary matters and be a non-voting participant in our monthly Council meetings.  In anticipation that a Development Committee will be formally established this year, we have formed a Development Task Force that is chaired by Stephen Sloan. Troy Reeves and I will work closely with this task force as we seek to institute regular and standardized development practices within the OHA.

This work is critical as we begin the first stages of planning the transition of our Executive Office.  Council approved the formation of an Executive Office Search Committee that will include Kelly Navies, LuAnn Jones and Zaheer Ali. We expect the OHA will issue a Request for Proposals by early summer.  Please seriously consider pitching your own proposal to serve as OHA’s next Executive Director.

It is never too late to get involved with one of the OHA committees or task forces that are essential for advancing OHA’s mission.  If you would like to get more involved, please send a note to gro.y1620392775rotsi1620392775hlaro1620392775@aho1620392775.

 

 

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OHA’s 2021 Annual Meeting is Virtual!

“Moving Stories”
October 2021 (Exact Dates To Be Determined)

The OHA’s Call for Proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting is now closed.

We are writing to announce that the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Oral History Association will be virtual. Of course we mourn the opportunity to meet in person as a large group, to eat and drink and explore a new place together, but we are excited by the opportunity to plan a virtual meeting from the ground up.

Changing how we meet forces us to really think about what our meetings are for and how we structure them – we are not going to try to recreate the immersive intensity of an in-person conference, but make the most of the potential of meeting online. For example, while we all know that listening to someone read a paper in person can be less-than-engaging, on Zoom it can be even less so. We are offering a bunch of new interactive formats for sessions, from Birds of a Feather Caucuses where you can convene a conversation among attendees who share an identity or experience, to sessions for workshopping pre-circulated works in progress and satellite gatherings, where we invite you to host a socially-distanced in-person local meet-up to share a meal, take a walk, or watch a session together. We also expect that the conference may be spread over a longer period of time in October, exact dates TBD.

We anticipate that meeting virtually will make the gathering accessible to more people – we are investing in live captioning and interpretation, and hoping to welcome many newcomers who have been excluded from past meetings due to travel costs and other barriers.

We know that there may be people who can only now imagine participating in this gathering, knowing it will be virtual. For that reason we have extended the deadline on the Call for Proposals to April 1. You can find extensive instructions and tips on submitting here.

We want to hear your visions for the conference, and invite you to participate in making it happen. Here is a form to share ideas and concerns, which includes an opportunity to volunteer to join our organizing team.

So, please share this CFP widely – this is the perfect opportunity to invite friends, colleagues and neighbors into the OHA without asking them to buy a plane ticket!

Sincerely,

Amy Starecheski, OHA Vice President
Sara Sinclair and Nikki Yeboah, Program Committee Co-Chairs

PS – And we are now scheduled to meet in Cincinnati in 2024! It will 100% be worth the wait.

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