Emily Robertson ’16
Seeing Historical Research Come to Life at the AHA Conference
1/28/2016 7:30:00 AM, 1,496 views
On Friday, Jan. 8, I had the opportunity to attend the American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting in Atlanta. As someone who nerds out about anything history, I greatly enjoyed being able to hear historians share their research at the conference.
We went to three different sessions throughout the day. In each of these sessions, a couple of people would present a portion of their dissertation and receive comments from the person leading the session.
The first session I attended was about social changes in New Orleans before, during, and after the American Civil War. One person discussed his findings on the lives of black women after Union occupation of the city, and another related an increase in female-led crime incidents after the war to the changes that had occurred in New Orleans during that time. Hearing their points of view on the changes that occurred during such a pivotal time in such a vivacious city was fascinating, and I was thrilled that I was able to relate their presentations to American history that I’ve studied in the past.
The next session was about the Navajo code talkers who used their language to communicate via radios in the Pacific Theatre of World War II to keep the enemy from learning about American plans. Two of the speakers in this session had family members who had been code talkers, and it was great to hear a more personal point of view of an important piece of history. One of the speakers was conducting research on a missing member of the original group of code talkers, and getting to hear about the mystery that she is trying to solve showed a more exciting view of the life of a historian.
After lunch was the third and final session. I chose to hear about the Etruscans, a group who lived along the Mediterranean Sea before the Romans. The people speaking during this session had conducted their research on the Etruscan language, which is still in the process of being translated. Their presentations showed the evolution of the language as other groups influenced it, and it was neat to get a perspective of the way things change over time.
The American Historical Association's annual conference was a truly eye-opening experience for me. I’m considering studying history in college, and getting to hear a plethora of historians talk about the work they have done and the things they have had the opportunity to study really reaffirmed my love of history and showed me some of the things I could be doing in the future.
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