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About the WHA
The Western History Association was founded in 1961 by a group of professional and avocational historians bound by their belief in the American West as a place rich in history and deserving of further study. "Its purpose shall be to promote the study of the North American West in its varied aspects and broadest sense," read the WHA's early constitution. Today, the WHA office is located in the History Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The association is composed of around 1,100 active members with a common mission. Learn more about the WHA Governance and Standing Committees, read the WHA Constitution & By Laws, WHA Diversity Statement, and WHA Code of Conduct.
Statement on Diversity
The WHA is an organization that encourages diverse representation in the historical profession and the field of western history. In 2011 the organization adopted a statement on diversity and updated it in 2017:
“The North American West has been both home to many different groups with divergent belief systems and cultural practices, and a place in which people often experience shifting identities. The Western History Association strives to reflect the richness of our regions. We seek to be an association of historians of diverse backgrounds who thrive in the spirit of mutual respect and engaged curiosity.”
The Western History Association (WHA) works to maintain an environment that allows persons in the historical profession to flourish by encouraging respectful, inclusive, and equitable treatment of all who participate in WHA activities. As a statement of principle, the WHA rejects harassment, discrimination, and retaliation by any means, based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment creates a hostile environment that impedes the advancement of historical knowledge by marginalizing individuals and communities. It also damages productivity and career growth, and prevents the healthy exchange of ideas. We affirm that discrimination and harassment are unacceptable in any research or learning environment. The WHA is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all.
The following policy pertains to all WHA activities, including events associated with WHA conferences and any WHA-related business occurring throughout the year. It encompasses interactions in person, by telephone, and by electronic communication. The policy applies to all members and participants as well as employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and guests.
WHA Response to AHA Statement
In August 2019 the American Historical Association published the "Statement from the AHA on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History." You can read the context of this statement draft and the fine draft on the AHA website. Several governing boards of the AHA Affiliated Societies, including the Western History Association's Council, signed the statement in support of its message.
The WHA Council did not, however, think this statement adequately discusses the historical and contemporary violence again Indigenous peoples in North America.
To this end, the WHA has released the following public statement: "The WHA supports the AHA Statement on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History. But the WHA Council does not believe this Statement adequately addresses the violence perpetrated against Indigenous peoples throughout North American history. At the Fall 2019 Council Meeting (October 16) the WHA governing body will create a separate statement on violence and history that augments the AHA document with language that more explicitly recognizes this issue. The WHA looks forward to releasing that statement at the end of October."
"The Western History Association strives to be a congenial home for the study and teaching of all aspects of North American Wests, frontiers, homelands and borderlands. Our mission is to cultivate the broadest appreciation of this diverse history."
To accomplish this mission, we
- Enable collaborations among peoples, institutions and organizations, devoted to the study of western history.
- Conduct an annual meeting at which scholars and other professionals join students and laypeople to share their research, to exchange ideas, and to develop programs that facilitate further study of the north American west
- Publish a journal that employs rigorous peer reviews to identify, improve and distribute original scholarship
- And promote public education through active involvement with teachers, museums, libraries, and other venues”