Professional organizations for historians are as varied as the industry itself. These associations are generally designed to promote the study, teaching and preservation of valuable historical documents and stories. Becoming a member of a professional organization provide numerous benefits, including boosting credibility and opportunities to cultivate contacts in the industry. As a history major, you’ll want to consider joining one of these reputable associations:
Founded in 1884, the American Historical Association (AHA) is the oldest membership society for working historians in the United States. The group’s goal to promote historical studies, preserve historical manuscripts and provide access to priceless U.S. documents is supported through an online archive, a prominent annual meeting and publication of the American Historical Review and Perspectives on History. As the profession’s premier advocate, the AHA has helped shape ethical standards, best teaching practices and national history policy. With more than 14,000 members nationwide, historians have access to a vibrant network of colleagues for collaborating, mentoring opportunities, career resources and fellowships.
Focused primarily on the studying and teaching of American history, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) invests its efforts in promoting best practices for instruction, presentation and scholarship. The membership joins together more than 7,800 professors, archivists, curators and scholars. The OAH maintains an extensive career resource center online, publishes the Journal of American History and The American Historian magazines and compiles a robust collection of recent research. Educators have access to primary teaching tools and a variety of professional discounts. OAH also organizes prominent speaking tours across the country, advocates for open access to historical documents and sets standards for professional integrity.
The World History Association (WHA) was founded in 1982 as a means for promoting the cross-cultural, global study of world history. With the group’s international members primarily consisting of educators, the WHA has been instrumental in establishing teaching standards across the world. As an umbrella organization, the WHA works with other associations to support the efforts of researching and teaching world history. Membership benefits include subscription to the award-winning Journal of World History, curriculum guides and a three-day annual conference.
Members join the National Council for History Education (NCHE) to become part of a community that promotes excellence in history education. Instructors from the elementary to collegiate level have access to professional development opportunities, diverse historical organizations, publications and information on developing issues in history education policy. Teachers can also tap tools for current and archival curriculum guides. Membership is open to community leaders, librarians, archivists and curators along with instructors at all educational levels. NCHE members receive special consideration from historical societies, discounted admission to national historical sites and museums and lower publication subscription rates.
5. Specialty Historical Societies
From the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) to the International Oral History Association and the Social Science History Association, there are dozens of organizations that hone in on specific facets of the industry. Smaller associations often focus on areas of specialization in particular cultures, eras or regions. Groups are also available for distinct professions, such as the Organization of History Teachers.
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Student members typically get a steep discount when registering with a professional association yet still get to enjoy the full benefits. As a history major, you gain access to exclusive job boards, cutting-edge research, an inter-connected network, mentoring and professional development. Many historical professional organizations also award scholarships and grants to new members embarking on their careers.