I was a member of the American Historical Association (AHA) for a year in 2006 and still occasionally receive mailings to renew my membership. I decided several months ago that I would not renew for various reasons that I will discuss shortly. While belonging to professional associations and organizations are great for people wishing to be on the inside of their field, one should be cautious with which group they give their hard-earned money to, which is where the AHA comes in.
My rift with the AHA began not long after I joined. A little background is needed. I only joined the AHA for graduate school application benefits (mainly putting it on my CV), but thought that it might be worthwhile outside of this. I was wrong. I began to get suspicious when I noticed rants against David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights or ABOR, which is designed to protect students from abuse by radical professors and administrators, who disagree with their views, in AHA’s newsletter Perspectives. In addition to these and other small things of a more leftist nature, their journal The American Historical Review also raised red flags (no pun intended). Many of the articles took on a decided leftist slant, with the article dealing with transsexualism among POWs being the “straw that broke the camels back”. With that lead article in the (I believe April 2006 issue) and an image of a transsexual on the front cover, I knew that I could no longer support the AHA and would not renew.
Other incidences of liberal bias abound. For instance, I voted for officers for the AHA as a member and noted that many officers researched or held professorships in “victim studies” areas (Black, Chicano, Asian, Women, Gender, Gay, etc. Studies) with no “normal” alternatives. These areas are noted for housing radical professors who tend to negatively view America and Americans, particularly Christians and conservatives. With all these reasons, I must state that it would not be worth the money for conservative or Christian historians to belong to the AHA.
With that, I will say that it is important to belong to an organization that publishes a scholarly journal to stay on top of the latest research in your field. There are many wonderful organizations available instead of the AHA, some are listed on this page. They include: The Society for Military History, The Historical Society, and others, which offer cheaper rates for regular membership in many cases, as well as discounted student rates, unlike the AHA that bases regular membership on income.
In conclusion, because of the left-wing slant of the officers and publications, as well as the mundane nature of the articles, I cannot recommend the AHA for membership. While I do not say that their publications are not worthwhile for research, save your money and join a more fair-minded organization.