We hope this annual letter to our membership, officers, and staff finds you well and enjoying the New Year. As the New Year gets underway, we are writing to extend our deepest gratitude to you for both your membership and ongoing contributions to the mission of the Urban History Association. Your abiding support and help continue to be indispensable to the success of our organization. In addition to expressing appreciation for your support, we are also writing to bring you up to date on our accomplishments, challenges, and plans for the current calendar year.
Our achievements unfolded along multiple lines of activity during 2022. We continued our very fruitful relationship with the Journal of Urban History; increased the Association’s operating budget; improved our organizational structure; established plans for the 2023 biennial conference, to be held in Pittsburgh; and, finally, and perhaps most important, we created an executive planning committee to craft a “Five-Year Plan” to help set priorities and channel our work over the next half decade. Under the editorship of David Goldfield, selected UHA members continued to play a vital role on the editorial board of the JUH, while scores of other members served as reviewers for recently published books and referees for articles under consideration for publication in the journal.
In addition to our collaboration with the JUH, the UHA’s prize committees selected the winners of the established Hirsch, Jackson, and Katz awards, as well as the award for the Best Book in Non-North American Urban History. On behalf of the UHA, we extend congratulations to all 2022 Award Winners! In reviewing our list of awards, the board discussed the prospect of expanding the number and diversity of prizes to reflect the changing geographic and demographic reach of the organization. A committee on UHA awards has been established and is dedicated to achieving that goal.
In the spring of 2022, we were awarded $75,000 in funding from the American Historical Association’s Grants to Sustain and Advance the Work of Historical Organizations Program, an opportunity made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Thanks to this grant, we were able to strengthen the financial package of the Executive Director (Allyson Moralez); add a new Operations and Special Projects Assistant (Daniela Sheinin); and supplement modest existing stipends for Avigail Oren, Ryan Reft, and the editing team for The Metropole. In addition to being awarded grant funding, the UHA was especially pleased and grateful to President Elect Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz for securing generous sponsorships from Penn State University’s Department of History and its College of the Liberal Arts. The Penn State grants have enabled The Metropole editors to offer modest compensation to blog theme month contributors. Reinforcing its keen interest in expanding the financial base of the UHA, the board approved an increase in membership fees (effective in 2023) to keep pace with the rising costs of services to our members.
Moreover, in order to strengthen the organizational structure of the Association and help to maximize its resources, the board approved changes to the by-laws governing the newsletter, secretary, and treasurer. Following up on these changes, the board approved the appointment of James Wolfinger, Dean of the School of Education at St. John’s University, as the new treasurer; and Amanda Boston, University of Pittsburgh, to succeed Kara Schlichting, Queens College, as membership secretary. The new general secretary’s post remains open. The UHA membership also elected a stellar slate of new members to the Board of Directors: Emiliano Aguilar, Taylor Desloge, Claire Dunning, Sandra I. Enriquez, Georgina Hickey, Nancy Kwak, Kyle T. Mays, and Kevin Mumford; for their immense service to the organization, we also thanked outgoing board members Harold Bérubé, Guadalupe García, Paige Glotzer, Clayton Howard, Alejandro Velasco, Matthew Vitz, and Constanze Weise.
Over the past year, we invested considerable energy into planning the 2023 biennial conference of the UHA, our first in-person conference since meeting in Columbia, South Carolina in 2018. Under the Conference Theme, “Reparations & the Right to the City,” our conference will be held at the Westin Pittsburgh in the heart of the Central Business District this October 26-29, 2023. Conference planning is in the able hands of a stellar roster of Program and Local Arrangements Committee members and co-chairs. Marcus Hunter, UCLA, and Alison Isenberg, Princeton, are co-chairs of the 12-member Program Committee, while historians Laurence Glasco, University of Pittsburgh and Andrew Masich, the Heinz History Center, are co-chairs of the 16-member Local Arrangements Committee.
Both committees are hard at work organizing an innovative conference that will include among other exciting features a collaboration with the Westmoreland Museum of American Art’s Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit and Symposium. This collaboration will allow us to explore Wright’s “Unbuilt'' works (not just his iconic buildings like Fallingwater) in the Pittsburgh region from the bottom up as well as the top down. Another creative dimension of the conference entails cooperation with the A. W. Mellon-funded multi-city national reparations project, “Crafting Democratic Futures: Situating Colleges and Universities in Community-Based Reparations Solutions.” Drawing upon selected papers from the 2023 UHA biennial conference, we also envision assembling and publishing an edited state of the field collection of essays on reparations, past and present.
Finally, and no doubt most significant for the future of the UHA, we created a new strategic planning committee. Under the leadership of the UHA executive committee, we charged this committee with crafting a “Five-Year Plan” for submission to the Board of Directors. The board will in turn review, comment on, and help to refine the “5-Year Plan” during calendar year 2023. We invite our members to share their thoughts on setting priorities and goals that will shape the vision of the UHA over the next five years.
In the meantime, most immediately, we urge our members to visit the conference website (https://www.urbanhistory.org/pittsburgh2023) and submit proposals for the 2023 program. Your engagement with the theme will help ensure the conference’s deep resonance for the academy, activists, policy makers, workers, educators, and the general public. The deadline for papers is February 20, 2023.
Again, many thanks for your ongoing commitment to the UHA. Enjoy a fruitful New Year.
Joe William Trotter, Jr., President
Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz, President-Elect