(Re)Connecting with Professional Organizations

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One of the greatest professional disappointments of the COVID-19 pandemic for me personally was the necessary cancellation of the 2020 Organization of American Historians (OAH) Annual Meeting. I had been super excited to participate in a panel called “State, Society, and ‘Correcting the Body,’” during which I would have presented research begun during my 2019 sabbatical. Instead I spent that April weekend in lock down, at home, helping my students and my own children transition to fully remote classes. I truly missed the opportunity to engage with fellow historians and teachers, and to hear about the new research happening in our field. This week, therefore, I want to encourage us all to visit the online resources of the many professional organizations dedicated to supporting our teaching and research.


Most of us belong to at least one professional organization. Maybe, like me, you have a pile of publications in your home office waiting to be read when the challenge of recording online lectures and holding virtual meetings with students wanes this summer. Don’t wait, however, to visit the organization’s web sites, many of which have been updated to support remote teaching and learning. Here are just a few examples:


The Organization of American Historians (OAH) is moving forward with this year’s Annual Meeting, Pathways to Democracy, virtually and has a robust schedule of panels and speakers available through their website. The event features both live and on-demand content this year, as well as workshops and discussion groups. The American Historical Association (AHA) has a particularly useful collection of online resources available through their Teaching & Learning Remote link, which reflect the wide-range of areas studied by AHA members. Materials are listed chronologically, geographically, thematically, and by resource type. 


Visit the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations website for a list of articles on teaching foreign relations to secondary and post-secondary students, in addition to suggested syllabi and assignments. The site also includes an extensive list of digital archives useful for students researching US foreign relations. The Society for History Education has past issues of their publication, The History Teacher, archived on their website, allowing visitors access to dozens of articles on the practice and process of teaching history. Scrolling through the vast collection is a great way to think about refreshing lectures and topics in our courses with new research. Finally, check out the American Social History Project’s list of History Resources for educators. Their current work on Teaching Elections and Mob Violence in US History may be of particular use this semester.


If you’ve let your membership to a professional organization lapse, still visit their site! Many of the resources are offered free-of-charge for student and faculty use. And, of course, consider renewing your professional memberships if you are able. As we approach the one year mark of teaching and learning from home, connecting with fellow teachers and researchers through professional organizations’ web presence is a great way to re-energize ourselves and our virtual classrooms. 

About the Author
Suzanne K. McCormack, PhD, is Professor of History at the Community College of Rhode Island where she teaches US History, Black History and Women's History. She received her BA from Wheaton College (Massachusetts), and her MA and PhD from Boston College. She is currently at work on a study of the treatment of women with mental illness in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Massachusetts and Rhode Island.