American Historical Association, Papers of

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Address and Contact Info

Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room

Hours and Usage Restrictions

Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 to 5:00 p.m.

There are no usage restrictions on the AHA's Papers. But the papers are held off-site, and need to be requested at least 48 hours in advance.

Online Catalogs and Finding Aids

There is no online finding aid for the AHA's Papers, but the Manuscript Reading Room has a highly detailed paper finding aid on site.

Collection Summary

The AHA's Papers consist of 901 boxes of records, covering all aspects of the organization's work from its establishment in 1884 up to 1979. The materials in the collection range from mundane membership correspondence to wide-ranging discussions about the proper work of the discipline.

Usage Discussion

Suggestions for approaching the material: As a starting point, you should read through the AHA's annual reports for the period you want to study, which summarize the major activities and personnel. After 1895 the work of the Association begins to break up into a number of different hands and committees. The finding aid is useful for identifying the material in each box, but the actual materials in the box can be highly varied depending on the source of the materials. In the 1920s and 1930s, for instance, the work of the Association was split between executive secretaries working at their home institutions, and the Assistant Secretary, Patty Washington, in the Association's central office. Unfortunately, all the early boxes for this period indicate they are "Secretary's Correspondence," but the materials from Patty Washington's files tend to be very mundane financial and membership material (boxes 60-64), while material from executive secretaries such as Dexter Perkins and Conyers Read dealt with far-ranging issues of the discipline. Since there is no clear distinction between one set of materials and another, this makes for highly varied results depending on your subject of study. And be sure to note that materials were added to the collection at much later periods, with large collections of council and committee materials showing up in the higher ranges of boxes.

Related materials for the AHA in the Manuscript Reading Room can also be found in the J. Franklin Jameson Papers (spanning 1895 to the 1930s), Bassett, John Spencer, Papers (particularly during his term as executive secretary from 1920 to 1928), and the American Council of Learned Societies Papers (which includes materials gathered by Waldo Leland Gifford after he left his post as secretary of the Association in 1919).

Major Topic Areas

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