New AHA Policies for Adding and Deleting Membership Categories

Historians in the News

As the dustup last fall about the deletion of “psychohistory” from our membership taxonomy indicated, inclusion on the AHA’s list of membership categories can be highly political—serving in many eyes as a mark of standing in the discipline.

Unfortunately, this sets up two competing problems. The taxonomy needs to be open to the emergence of new areas in the discipline, but it also needs to be functional in a variety of contexts—for members trying to identify themselves, historians trying to find a specialist for a meeting panel, or members of staff trying to offer a coherent profile of the membership. With 297 different options in the taxonomy (and an open field for still more specific subjects of “current research”) many members complain that the taxonomy proves quite daunting and unwieldy.

So after a decade of dealing with requests for new categories on an ad hoc basis—and more recently trying to delete a couple categories with only a small representation on a similarly ad hoc basis—the Council adopted the following formal policies for adding and deleting categories in the future, effective June 4, 2007:

Policy for Adding Categories Adding new categories requires a petition from 10 members in good standing requesting the addition of a particular category. Staff will review the membership status of the petitioners and the current selection of related topics in the open “Current Research” field, and submit a recommendation to Council. If a majority of members on Council agree, it will be added to the taxonomy.
Read entire article at Robert Townsend writing at the website of the AHA blog

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