Friday, October 14, 2011

Western History Association Conference in Oakland

I am in Oakland for the WHA conference. I love this organization. The WHA is one of the more vital scholarly organizations--by the way such things are normally measured. Attendance at the meetings is good, the journal comes out on schedule and with interesting articles, and...

Well, that is it. Like most of our professional organizations, the WHA consists almost entirely of a conference and a journal. Its members include academic historians and a scattering of other history professionals such as Park Service historians, archivists, and editors.

There was some discussion at last night's plenary session about the disappearance of history buffs from the organization in the last decade or so. Nobody was sure where they have gone, but we were assured that they are fine. I think they are living on a farm in the countryside or something.

Maybe this is not a problem--there is tremendous value in historians talking with other historians. I certainly enjoy learning what my friends and colleagues are working on, in formal sessions and hallway conversations and drinks at the hotel bar. ($10 for drink!) I just wish we were a part of the public of the public conversation about western history. There is a huge public interest in what we do.

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