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Actions of the OAH Executive Board, Spring 2014

At its spring 2014 meeting held at the Hilton Atlanta on April 10, the OAH Executive Board took actions on its agenda including approving minutes from its fall 2013 meeting, endorsing the new membership magazine, The American Historian, approving the new publishing agreement with Oxford University Press, approving the organization's fiscal year 2015 budget, and more. Read the full list of action items > 

Posted: April 28, 2014
Tagged: News of the Organization


In Memoriam: Irving Brinton Holley Jr.

Irving Brinton Holley, Jr., Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University and Major General, US Air Force (ret.), died August 12, 2013, in Durham, NC. At the time of his death he was 94 years old.

Professor Holley was a native of Torrington, Connecticut, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College in 1940. He was working toward a Ph.D. at Yale University and had received the Tew Prize as Outstanding Scholar in History when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, and he enlisted in the US Army. Trained as an aerial gunner, he was commissioned at Officer Candidate School. He returned to private life as a captain after five years of active duty but remained in the US Air Force reserves until he retired in 1981 with the rank of major general, after nearly 40 years of service to his country.

He completed his Ph.D. at Yale in 1947, receiving the Townshend Prize for Best Dissertation, and then accepted a position at Duke University. Although he officially retired in 1989, he continued teaching until the age of 92, making him both the oldest and longest serving professor in Duke’s history. In 2004, Professor Holley inspired the project “Books for Baghdad,” an effort by the university community to donate scholarly books and other materials to Iraqi university libraries which had been destroyed during Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Gulf Wars. He also served on the NC Health Planning Council, the Board of Trustees of Durham Academy, and as Senior Warden at St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church. He was a member of the Organization of American Historians from 1965 until 1996. 

Professor Holley’s field was American intellectual and social history with a special emphasis on the history of technology. He was the author eight books, most notably Ideas and Weapons, a study of the relationships of technology, military doctrine, and weapons development. First issued in 1953, the book has been published in four editions and is still in print. It continues as an important text for several US military staff schools and war colleges. Other books Professor Holley wrote include General John M. Palmer, Citizen Soldier, and the Army of a Democracy, and Buying Aircraft: Materiel Procurement for the Army Air Forces, a World War II official history for the US Army Center of Military History. More recently, at the age of 89, he published his last scholarly book, The Highway Revolution, 1895-1925: How the United States Got Out of the Mud.

Professor Holley taught and mentored several generations of PhD’s and in so doing made a major contribution to the field of military history. Widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading authorities on military doctrine, he continued to lecture on the subject long after his retirement from the university. He served as visiting professor at the US military academy at West Point, NY, and the National Defense University. He was a frequent lecturer at the Army and Air Force Staff Colleges, the Army, Navy, and Air War Colleges, and the Pentagon. He also lectured at the US Marine University, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Royal Swedish Military Staff College in Stockholm, Sweden.

Professor Holley was an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was a recipient of the Duke Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for History for his body of contributions to the field of military history. He was awarded the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, and the Air Force’s Exceptional Service and Distinguished Service Medals, and the Air Force Legion of Merit. In 2007 he was the first recipient of an award named in his honor by the Air Force for individuals who have made a “sustained, significant contribution to the documentation of Air Force history during a lifetime of service.”

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Janet Carlson Holley, and his daughters Janet Wegner of Garrett Park, MD, Jean Schmidt of Greenville, SC, and Susan Holley of Clover, SC, as well as eight grandchildren and two great-grandsons. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at The Forest at Duke, 2701 Pickett Road, Durham, NC 27705 at 2:00 p.m. in the auditorium.

Posted: March 19, 2014
Tagged: In Memoriam


Open Discourse and Academic Freedom

From the OAH President. In his February 2014 column in OAH Outlook, OAH President Alan M. Kraut stresses the importance of open scholarly discourse when historians debate the issues surrounding important subjects. Read more >

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Posted: February 18, 2014
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Organization, News of the Profession


In Memoriam: Merton L. Dillon

Merton L. Dillon, professor at Ohio State University, passed away on May 3, 2013. A member of the OAH since 1950, Dillon retired from teaching in 1991. The following remembrance of Professor Dillon was written by Hugh Davis, Professor Emeritus of History, Southern Connecticut State University.

Merton Lynn Dillon (1924-2013)

Merton Dillon, professor emeritus of history at Ohio State University and an OAH member since 1950, died on May 4, 2013, from polymyositis. During his career, he taught a broad array of courses on American history, especially antislavery, slavery, the American South, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. He also guided numerous Master's theses and doctoral dissertations in these subject areas. Merton was a model teacher-scholar who impressed upon his students the necessity of engaging in thorough research In primary and secondary sources. He insisted that his students ask hard questions of the evidence and encouraged them to write succinctly and clearly. Merton was a supportive and attentive mentor to his former students and other historians. Students were drawn to Dillon by his sterling scholarship, his carefully crafted lectures, and his exemplary values. While deeply committed to the principles of justice and equality, he never sought to impose his views on his students. He was a modest man of great integrity who lived and taught by example.

Merton was born on April 4, 1924, in Addison, Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State Normal College in 1945, and then earned his MA in 1948 and his PhD in 1951 from the University of Michigan, where he studied under Dwight Dumond. He subsequently taught at the New Mexico Military Institute (1951-1956), Texas Tech College (1956-1965), and Northern Illinois University (1965-1967), before moving to Ohio State University (1967-1991).

In his dissertation on "The Antislavery Movement in Illinois, 1809-1844," and related articles and two books, Merton reoriented antislavery scholarship away from Garrisonian abolitionism in the Northeast after 1830 and toward antislavery efforts in the West and South prior to the 1830s. His first two books—Elijah P. Lovejoy, Abolitionist Editor (1961) and Benjamin Lundy and the Struggle for Negro Freedom (1966)—reinforced that shift in orientation in antislavery historical studies.

In 1959, Dillon wrote a seminal article, "The Failure of American Abolitionists," which reflected his conviction that abolitionists "failed" because slavery was destroyed by war rather than moral arguments and political pressure. Yet he also came to acknowledge that slaves and their northern black and white allies were instrumental in pushing slavery toward extinction. Dillon most fully developed his analysis of antislavery dissent in The Abolitionists: The Growth of a Dissenting Minority (1974), which remained a leading general study in the field for many years. His belief that slave resistance deeply influenced antislavery ideology and progressively weakened the institution of slavery formed the core argument in his Slavery Attacked: Southern Slaves and Their Allies (1990). Throughout this and other studies, he contended that individual actions and choices played a significant role in shaping history. This theme inspired the essays in a festschrift to Dillon, The Moment of Decision: Biographical Essays on American Character and Regional Identity (1994), edited by Randall M. Miller and John R. McKivigan.

Dillon also remained interested in the sources of southern thought. In his biography of an influential southern historian—Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Historian of the Old South (1985)—he re-examined the racist underpinnings of southern historical thought. Upon his retirement in 1991, Dillon bought a farm near his family in Michigan, where he continued to read history and mentor his former students and colleagues. He is survived by a sister and a brother.

—Hugh Davis, Professor Emeritus of History, Southern Connecticut State University.

More information is available at: http://www.brownvanhemert.com/obituary/Dr.-Merton-L.-Dillon-PhD/Somerset-Twp.-Jerome-MI/1204427

Posted: January 13, 2014
Tagged: In Memoriam


OAH Executive Board Issues Statement on Dissertation Embargoes

At its fall meeting in Atlanta, Georgia November 16-17, 2013, the executive board of the Organization of American Historians discussed the issue of temporary "embargoes" on newly completed PhD dissertations. Subsequent to its meeting, the board issued a statement. Read report >

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Posted: December 17, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Recognized for Innovative Marketing Plan

The  recognized the OAH at its 2013 STAR Awards Ceremony on December 12 for the best "Innovative Membership Marketing Program" for an Indiana association. The award was given for our program to recruit student and younger members into the organization. The program includes the new OAH sponsored membership program, the development of several career tools--including the Career COACH® (Creating Opportunities for Advancing our Community of Historians) Web site--the recent mentorship program, as well as new member benefits.

Posted: December 17, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Actions of the OAH Executive Board, Fall 2013

At its fall 2013 meeting held at the Hilton Atlanta on November 16-17, the OAH Executive Board took the following actions. Read report >

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Posted: December 13, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Executive Board Issues Statement on Dissertation Embargoes

At its fall meeting in Atlanta, Georgia November 16-17, 2013, the executive board of the Organization of American Historians discussed the issue of temporary "embargoes" on newly completed PhD dissertations and issued the following statement.

Posted: December 13, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Mourns the Passing of Michael G. Kammen

Michael G. KammenThe OAH is saddened to learn of the passing of Michael G. Kammen. He died on November 29 2013 at the age of 77. He served as president of the Organization of American Historians from 1995 to 1996. Kammen was the Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture (emeritus) at Cornell University, where he taught from 1965 until 2008. Read more >

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Posted: December 2, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Acting Editor Chosen for New OAH Publication

William GillisOctober 7, 2013. Please join us in welcoming William Gillis as the acting editor for the new OAH membership publication currently in development. Gillis, who received his PhD from the Indiana University School of Journalism with a minor in American Studies, has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and reporter for more than a dozen years.

Read more >

Posted: October 8, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


Contingent Historians Profiled in new OAH Report

The employment situation for contingent historians remains inadequate despite those scholars’ strong professional credentials and deep commitment to teaching, according to a new report prepared by the New York University adjunct professor of continuing and professional studies Edward Reiner and the market researcher Catherine Walton on behalf of the OAH. Read more >

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Posted: September 3, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


In Memoriam: Gilbert Schuyler Bahn

Gilbert S. Bahn of Moorpark, California, died on July 3, 2013.

More information is available at: http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Gilbert-Bahn&lc=4800&pid=165682285&mid=5590920

Posted: September 3, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam


In Memoriam: Pauline Maier

Pauline Maier, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Techonology, passed away on August 12, 2013. A life member of the Organiation of American Historians, Maier joined the organization in 1973.

More information is available at: http://s-usih.org/2013/08/pauline-maier-1938-2013.html

Posted: September 3, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam


In Memoriam: Robert F. Engs

Robert F. Engs passed away on January 14, 2013. He is a former visiting professor of history at William & Mary, and emeritus professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Engs joined the OAH in 1975.

More information is available at: http://www.wm.edu/news/announcements/2013/message-on-the-passing-of-robert-f.-engs.php

Posted: September 3, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam


In Memoriam: Robert Tropea

Robert Tropea of Woburn, Massachusetts, passed away on July 25, 2013.

More information is available at: http://www.lynch-cantillon.com/Obituary?id=2948

Posted: September 3, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam


In Memoriam: John K. Thomas

John Kyle Thomas, PhD, died on March 12, 2013. Born November 30, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Thomas was professor of history at Roane State Community College.

More information is available at: http://smithmortuary.tributes.com/show/Dr.-John-K.-Thomas-95413773

Posted: September 3, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam


In Memoriam: Ann J. Lane

Ann J. Lane, a pioneer in Women’s History and Women’s Studies, passed away on Memorial Day, May 27, at the age of 81. She had retired in 2009 from the University of Virginia, where she was Professor of History and director of Women’s Studies (now the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program) from 1990 to 2003.

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Posted: August 29, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam


OAH Responds to Recent Concerns of Academic Freedom

July 25, 2013. The Organization of American Historians has received a letter from Purdue University faculty members, many of whom are OAH members, regarding statements made by Purdue University President Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., during his term as Indiana governor about the use of Howard Zinn's history textbook (A People's History of the United States) in K-12 classes in Indiana, which he has recently defended and reiterated as Purdue University President. The OAH supports the academic and intellectual freedom of all faculty members, principles articulated in the letter from Purdue University colleagues. The OAH regards the current episode as a "teachable moment" when instructors in American history at every level have the opportunity to convey to our students how historians debate ideas and assess the merit of each others' written work. We invite members to contact us with their account of classroom exercises and discussion questions that they have used, or intend to use in class, to promote discussion of such issues. We promise to post as many of them as we can on our website to encourage open discussion.

Alan M. Kraut, OAH President and Katherine M. Finley, OAH Executive Director

Background Reading (last updated: Friday, August 2, 2013)

Posted: July 25, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


OAH Nominating Board announces 2014 Slate of Candidates

The nominating board has announced the slate of candidates for the 2014 OAH election. In addition to voting for three candidates for executive board, OAH members will vote for candidate to the nominating board as well. Balloting begins in December. Read more >

Posted: May 28, 2013
Tagged: News of the Organization


In Memoriam: Arvarh Strickland

Historian and fifty-year member of the OAH, Arvarh Strickland, died April 30, 2013 at the age of 82. Strickland made history in 1969 when he became the first African American to hold a tenure-track position at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He served with distinction in various capacities as a faculty member and chair of the Department of History; principal architect of the MU Black Studies Program; associate vice president of academic affairs, University of Missouri System; and special assistant to the MU Chancellor.

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Posted: May 13, 2013
Tagged: In Memoriam