I know that many of you have been anxious to hear whether we will indeed be able to hold our annual UHA meeting in Detroit in October 2021 as planned. We had rescheduled that meeting from October 2020 to October 2021 due to the pandemic, and sincerely hoped that it would have passed by that date.
Sadly, the pandemic is still with us, and though we are optimistic that vaccines are on the way and that there is indeed some light at the end of this tunnel, a survey of our members indicates folks are just not comfortable committing to an in-person UHA conference as soon as October. Although we are all eager to see one another, and are so longing for a sense of community, there remains great uncertainty about the public health situation come next fall, as well as the state of university travel budgets. And so, because people might not be able to travel to Detroit, even if it is safe to do so, we have decided to cancel the in-person conference.
What we plan to do instead is devote the entire month of October 2021 to events, most likely virtual, that we feel will allow us to connect with one another in the ways we value most. We are still in the early planning stages of what we are calling “Urban History Month,” but we hope to include networking, workshopping, and presentation opportunities for all of our community members, including (and especially) graduate students and emerging scholars. In other words, we are re-thinking what our conference can do and how we might offer the best elements of our conference experience in this new format. If you have questions or suggestions, or if you would like to join the Urban History Month planning effort, please contact Hope Shannon, UHA Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, I want to share my deepest and most sincere thank you to all of you who took the time to submit paper proposals to the original Detroit conference, and to assure you that we at the UHA are absolutely comfortable with you listing your accepted paper on your CV (and indeed encourage you to do so!), even though you were not able to present it for reasons beyond your control. I also want to say thank you to Bryant Simon and Elizabeth Hinton for the herculean work they did leading the Detroit program committee, and to Georgina Hickey for her efforts booking, rescheduling, and then cancelling our engagements with various Detroit conference venues and vendors. The conference they planned would have, I promise you, been one of the most amazing conferences the UHA ever put on.
This has been a challenging year in so many ways, but thanks to our amazing Executive Director Hope Shannon’s extraordinary work behind the scenes making this organization run, the energy and creative vision of Membership Secretary Kara Schlichting, and the truly incredible work done every day by The Metropole team led by Avigail Oren and Ryan Reft, we couldn’t be in better shape. I am so deeply grateful to you all.
Heather Ann Thompson
Urban History Association