Professional Organizations and Resources for Historians

Joining a professional organization as a historian may be an enriching experience, both professionally and personally. Utilizing the organizations’ resources might inspire and support your research, help you grow academically and professionally, and help you identify potential opportunities to collaborate and network with professionals in your field.

Many professional organizations in the field of history may offer the following:

  • Historical advocacy opportunities
  • Advancement of scholarship opportunities to qualified individuals
  • Potential professional advancement opportunities, including support in networking, building application materials, and preparing for specializations

These qualities and the many resources most professional organizations offer make joining one an interesting option for academics and professionals.

Potential Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization for Historians

The benefit you could potentially derive from joining a professional organization ultimately depends on the association you join. However, there are some benefits that are relatively consistent across organizations. Members of history associations (no matter the specialization) typically enjoy:

  1. Opportunities for professional growth and development: Many organizations offer discounts and access to workshops, discussion boards, and other interactive tools and resources you can use to develop your knowledge and skill-set in your particular profession.
  2. Opportunities to learn: Many organizations give members access to articles, books, workshops, and other resources you can use for ongoing education in your discipline.
  3. Opportunities for networking: Many organizations give students and professionals numerous opportunities to interact, especially through discussion boards and regional, national, and international conferences.
  4. Subscriptions to the association’s publications: Many organizations publish texts including newsletters, handbooks, and magazines. Such subscriptions help you stay up-to-date on current discourse in the discipline.
  5. Opportunities to connect and collaborate: Many organizations give members access to a network of historians across the discipline who work in a variety of capacities.

How to Join a Professional Organization for Historians

Begin by talking to someone in your undergraduate program, graduate program, or discipline to determine which organization might be the best fit for you. Different organizations typically tailor their resources to specializations, and joining the “right” organization for your specialization or major might provide you with access to resources that most closely complement your given your field of study.

Then, visit the organizations website and explore what the organization has to offer. If you want to join, you can likely do so by contacting the organization or joining online. Many organizations give specific details about their membership fees and structures and give enough information for people to know whether or not they want to join online.

Note that some organizations offer discounts to students or a sliding-scale to professionals at various income levels. Select your level of membership and register following the directions on the site.

Most organizations ask you to join semi-annually or annually, but many also offer lifetime memberships. Consider asking your school or employer if they are willing to pay for your membership.

Once you pay your membership fees, you’ll gain access to the many resources the organization offers.

Professional organizations for historians

Following are just some examples of associations historians join. Numerous others exist, so conduct a thorough search prior to joining one.

  • The World History Association: The WHA promotes “world history through the encouragement of teaching, research, and publication” and has a mission to “advance scholarship and teaching within a trans-national, trans-regional, and trans-cultural perspective”. It was one of the first professional associations to expand to include multiple nations and broader specializations in its membership and efforts.
  • The International Planning History Society: The IPHS “endeavors to foster the study of planning history worldwide” and to encourage and support “interest and place-based networks in the fields of planning history”.
  • The American Historical Association: The American Historical Association “brings together historians from all geographical, chronological, and topical specializations and all work contexts, embracing the breadth and variety of activity in history today.” It also “addresses the diverse special needs of individuals and the interests of the profession as a whole.” The AHA is a wonderful organization for historians of various specializations to join.
  • The Organization of American Historians: The OAH “is the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history. The mission of the organization is to promote excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, and to encourage wide discussion of historical questions and the equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.”
  • The Association of Personal Historians: The APH envisions “a world in which the story of every person, family, community, and organization is recorded and preserved.” The APH actively seeks and promotes “educational, networking and marketing opportunities” for personal historians and provide a “true community in which members motivate, inform, train, inspire and support each other.”
  • The National Council of Nonprofits: The National Council of Nonprofits’ goal is to “advance the vital role, capacity, and voice of charitable nonprofit organizations” through state and national networks.” Many historians work for nonprofits and can benefit from access to the Council’s resources.
  • The National Education Association: The NEA is a “public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others. We support student success by helping public school educators work with key partners to build strong systems of shared responsibility.” Many historians work as educators and can benefit from the NEA’s resources and support.


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