This morning I voted online for the next president of The Society of Civil War Historians. I’ve been a member for a few years now and even had the opportunity to address the organization back in 2008. The SCWH recently established a new book prize, a new journal, as well as a biennial conference. I think these are all positive steps, but nothing here reaches beyond the traditional activities of an academic organization.
There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this, but it is worth remembering that we are in the middle of the sesquicentennial. I remember hearing rumblings from various folks in the SCWH at the first biennial meeting in Philadelphia that the organization would be active throughout the commemoration of the 150th. So far, I’ve heard nothing. It’s disappointing especially given the fact that so many members are engaged in a wide range of activities that involve the education of the general public. I have no doubt that given the talent in the SCWH that it can take the lead on any number of projects. Perhaps a partnership/collaboration with another organization is the way to go.
I wish the online ballots included vision statements from the candidates rather than the standard brief resumes that pretty much blend into one another. They are all top notch scholars. I am much more interested in the direction they want to steer the organization and whether they believe that this direction includes anything to mark the sesquicentennial and public education.
I will continue to look forward to each issue of the journal as well as the next conference, but it seems to me that this organization is capable of doing more, especially NOW.