Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Annual Report of the Secretary-Treasurer

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Annual Report of the Secretary-Treasurer

Article excerpt

MEETING IN BALTIMORE FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THE ASSOCIATION'S history, our seventy-seventh annual conference was an eventful one, with most of the usual highs that we have come to expect at our gatherings, but also some unusual challenges that we have not faced before. With 1,410 registrants, attendance was nearly as high as it was when we last met in Baltimore in 2002, when we counted 1,420 registrants, meaning that the city continues to be a popular site for us, and that somehow, we have experienced remarkably little decline in our turnout over these recession years. The one place we have felt the economic downturn more acutely has been in our exhibit hall. While the number of presses and publishers exhibiting with us in Baltimore was higher (thirty-four) than the low we experienced in 2010 in Charlotte (twenty-seven), due in part to some aggressive courting of certain presses on our part, it was still below our highs of forty to forty-five exhibitors in the pre-recession years.

To focus on the positive, I think I heard more comments than ever before on the quality of the program itself. Thanks to Program Committee chair Craig Thompson Friend and the committee he and President Theda Perdue put together, a majority of sessions drew larger audiences than usual throughout the two and a half days of our meeting. As usual, anything focused on the Civil War era drew well, with those sessions dealing with women and gender being among the best attended. A session on "Gender and Sectional Reunion in Late-Nineteenth-Century America" drew an audience of about ninety-five, and nearly sixty-five attended a session on the role of Baltimore women during and just after the war. Over 120 attended the Society of Civil War Historians dinner and heard Mark W. Geiger's lecture, "Follow the Money," in which he explained his very unconventional approach to irregular warfare that won his book, Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri's Civil War, 1861-1865 (New Haven, 2010), the society's Tom Watson Brown Book Award.

Inspired by Theda Perdue, the first SHA president to be a historian of Native Americans, current scholarship on southern Indians was front and center throughout the meeting, from Theda's well-received presidential address, a preview of her forthcoming study of the place of Indians in the Jim Crow South, to an opening-night concert by North Carolina Indian (of Tuscarora descent) Pura Fe, an accomplished folksinger and songwriter with an utterly unique sound who has been influential in reviving native musical instruments and styles. Historian John W. Troutman, who has written the definitive book on Indian blues, opened the session with an informative appreciation of Pura Fe and her contribution to that tradition. Five regular sessions on various aspects of the Native American experience--ranging from colonial race relations and frontier violence to Indians as slaves and slaveholders, mixed racial identities, and post-removal issues of citizenship and sovereignty--also reflected Perdue's mark on the program, and all drew healthy audiences, with two of them having the largest audiences in their time block, something unprecedented for the field, at least in my experience with session counts. Commemorative sessions often prove popular at the Southern, and did so in Baltimore. A fifty-year commemoration of Freedom Rider veterans drew more than seventy people, and nearly as many turned up for a reconsideration of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind (1936) to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of its publication.

Many of our attendees braved snow flurries and freezing weather--in October no less--to attend off-site sessions on Saturday night. Nearly two hundred people turned out for the Southern Association for Women Historians's annual reception honoring its president Sally McMillen and the enthusiastically received lecture delivered by Elizabeth Hayes Turner on the role of women in the Poor People's Campaign of 1968. …

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