To Be or Not to Be ... an ASCH Member

Elesha Coffman

Those of you who are, or who have been, ASCH members should recently have received an e-mail from ASCH president Ron Rittgers, urging you to pay your 2016 dues if you have not already done so. "The ASCH is currently facing unprecedented financial challenges on a number of fronts," the e-mail indicated, "and your membership dollars have never been more important to the Society. Revenue from membership dues is significantly behind where it should be at this time of the year, and the shortfall is making it difficult to plan and provide the kind of high quality annual meeting that we all value so highly, among other things."

I've written before about the tense relationship between ASCH and AHA, and about affordability in academic guilds. There's an ASCH council meeting scheduled later this month, and I expect it to address both the AHA-ASCH relationship and the affordability of our annual meetings. Going into the discussion, I would love to know what any of you think about either of these topics.

If you are an ASCH member, or if you are not a member, why? No judgment, I'm just really curious how people in different sub-fields, institutions, and stages of their career view ASCH membership. Who, and what, is membership for?

If you attend the AHA/ASCH winter meeting, do you attend sessions sponsored by, and interact with members of, a variety of represented societies (AHA, ASCH, the American Catholic Historical Association, others) or do you mostly stick to one group? How important is it, to you, that all of these historians are meeting together? Do you prefer big, multifaceted conferences or small, focused ones?

Whether you belong to ASCH or another academic society, what does that society do for you? What do you wish it did more or less of? How would it affect you if the society ceased to exist?

If you'd rather contact me personally than post your thoughts here, feel free to email me at Thanks!


John G. Turner said…
I am an ASCH member and have been for around fifteen years.

I do not frequently attend the winter or spring meetings, because staying home is always less expensive than going to conferences. But occasionally I have reason to go to the AHA, and when I do, I mostly camp out at the ASCH sessions because I know more people there and the sessions are of interest to me. It's a small, focused conference within a larger conference.

You could probably describe me as a rather inactive member, partly for the reasons mentioned above. Nevertheless, the ASCH is very important to me as the only home for individuals from a wide variety of perspectives studying the broad history of Christianity. I think it's important for anyone writing about the history of Christianity to be more than, for instance, Americanists who happen to write about religious subjects. When one writes about the history of Methodism or evangelicalism or Mormonism, one is writing about something with a very long backstory, and I think the ASCH encourages us to remain aware of that backstory.

jbh said…
I once submitted a panel proposal that included Daniel Walker Howe and Winnifred Sullivan and a few really legit up and comers and it was rejected. I never went again or submitted another proposal. It is really embarrassing to have to pass on to Dan Howe that the ASCH didn't want to hear from him. What a strange, myopic group!

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