Promoting, supporting and encouraging the study of the United States since 1955

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 236


Meeting 236

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: October 4, 2003

Minutes of the 236th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Manchester Metropolitan University on October 4, 2003.

1. Present

J Beer (Vice Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), N Selby (Treasurer), S Castillo, K Cooper, J Davies, C Morley, S Newman, I Ralston, I Scott, G Thompson, J Virden, T Woods

In attendance: S MacLachlan, S Wedlake

Apologies P Davies, J. Kleinberg, C Smith

2. Minutes of the Previous Meetings

After correction of two typographical errors, the minutes of the 235th meeting were accepted as a true record and will now be posted on the website.

3. Matters Arising

A) JB reported that the IUSS review, referenced in point 4c, is ongoing and will have its final meeting shortly.

B) JB reported on the progress of the AHRB bid for a ring-fenced award. Although successful in the first stage of the bid, BAAS subsequently discovered that Keele had made a similar bid, and the decision was taken to work with Keele’s bid, which was made on behalf of a wider university network. Therefore, at the second stage of the bid, Prof. Ian Bell took the lead, with HM collating BAAS comments and responding to the draft. JB asked that the minutes reflect thanks to Prof. Bell and to HM for their roles in this bid.

C) The Actions List was reviewed, and matters arising include the following: TW responded to Action 1, noting that discussions about a Pan American Teaching Conference are ongoing. JD suggested linking these discussions with the new Umbrella Area Studies Organisation meeting scheduled for November. TW is to liaise with the LTSN and Prof. Dick Ellis in advance of the event. Actions 2-8 have been progressed, as well as actions 10-12. Action 9 is ongoing, with NS intending to contact Alun Munslow shortly. Action 13 will be placed on the minutes from this meeting. GT reported an excellent response from postgraduates in relation to the IUSS Thesis in American Studies project. The rest of the actions are ongoing, or have been progressed.

4. Chair’s Business (written report from PD)

A) In the absence of the Chair, JB as Vice Chair reported on the chair’s activities. Since the last meeting, PD has represented BAAS at a number of events, including: the US Ambassador’s Independence Day reception, Winfield House and gardens; the American Society’s Independence Day party, Winfield House and gardens; the David Bruce colloquium, University of Keele; the 2003 Political Marketing Conference, London where he was the plenary speaker; and a welcome lunch for David Johnson, newly-appointed Minister at the US Embassy.

B) PD’s report recorded that responses to events and documents had been made to the following: Professor Badger’s commission on the IUSS (a copy will be lodged with the minutes); the Roberts Report (a copy of which will be lodged with the minutes). SN completed the vast majority of the work on this response, and thanks are extended especially to him, but also to everyone who provided input. PD also reported on the call for AHRB ring-fenced proposals, which is referenced above. PD asked for thanks to be extended to Ian Bell, JB, HM and all who worked on this proposal.

C) PD’s report praised the ASIB for its scope and reliability, and extended thanks to GT. The reports from the Aberystwyth Conference were interesting, though not as numerous as in the past, and the STA awards were particularly engaging and show the range and impact that BAAS support has.

D) PD’s report offered a full programme for the upcoming “Congress to Campus” visit occurring between 21-25 October. A combination of US foundations arranges for retired members of US Congress to make 3-day visits to US campuses to engage in discussion with students and the public. As a result, and with additional support from the US Embassy and De Montfort University, Congress to Campus (founded in 1976) is to make its first ever visit outside the boundaries of the USA. In attendance will be the former Congressmen Louis Frey (R-FL) and Larry LaRocco (D-ID). The hope is that if it is a success, it might lead to repeat visits in the future to involve other institutions and to develop the programme on the basis of experience, so that it might become a repeating resource for BAAS members. The programme as scheduled is as follows, and anyone wishing to attend should contact PD:

Tuesday 21 October
6th form conference – Eccles Centre/BL conference centre
(speakers: Iwan Morgan, Robert Singh, Philip Davies, the visiting Congressmen)
Wednesday 22 Oct
Research seminar on Congress & President Bush/DMU
(speaker: Ross English, Congressmen to respond)
Thursday 23 October
undergraduate conference – DMU
(speakers: Wyn Rees, Nick Cull, Tim Lynch, David Waller, the Congressmen, Philip Davies)
public presentation on US-UK relations & current world affairs
(speakers: the congressmen, John Dumbrell to respond)
Friday 24 October
6th form conference – DMU
(speakers: David Ryan, Ian Jackson, Philip Davies, Robert Singh, Clive Gray, the Congressmen)
Saturday 25 Oct
informal appearance at IUSS London postgraduate conference.

E) The next item in PD’s report, on JAS subscriptions and a proposal for 50th anniversary was discussed in the Publications Subcommittee and is referenced below.

F) PD announced new appointments and promotions: Deborah Madsen has taken a Chair of American Literature at the University of Geneva; Prof. Des King has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy; Prof. John Dumbrell will take up a new Chair of American Politics at the University of Leicester in January 2004; Philip Davies has been elected to membership of the Pilgrims’ Society of Great Britain; Janet Beer has been elected Chair of CUDAH (Council of University Deans of Arts and Humanities); Heidi Macpherson has been made Reader in North American Literature at the University of Central Lancashire.

G) PD regretfully announced the deaths of the following BAAS members or supporters of American Studies in Britain: Esmond Wright, former chair of BAAS; Philip (P.A.M.) Taylor, one of the founders of the American Studies programme at Hull University; Richard Maidment, who was active as Professor of American Government in the Open University and who represented the OU in its USA operations; and Mary Eccles, founder and generous benefactor of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.

H) In closing, JB reiterated PD’s earlier thanks to GT for the regularity and usefulness of ASIB.

5. Secretary’s Business

A) The Secretary reported that she frequently receives queries about the US newspaper database; it is a well-used resource. However, a number of correspondents wrongly believe that BAAS holds a newspaper archive and ask for access to it; GT has agreed to make the website clearer on this issue.

B) HM reported that she had received a report from the Academy of Social Sciences entitled “Great Expectations: The Social Sciences in Britain.” If anyone would like a copy, they should email her.

C) HM noted that actions taken on behalf of BAAS since the last meeting included updating BAAS records with national surveys; acting as a point of reference for queries about American Studies; and updating and circulating the list of potential external examiners. Numbers of examiners listed is still low, but it is clear that there is a very real demand for such a list, so the Secretary will endeavour to publicize it frequently.

D) HM reported that she had attended the 26 September JAS editorial board meeting in London.

E) HM reported that she has been in contact with Peter Boyle (Nottingham) regarding BAAS studentships, and noted that everyone should have received their flyers on this programme by now.

F) HM noted that she had taken receipt of the BAAS chair audio tapes, which will be used as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. She also reported that Judie Newman suggested that both she and PD are interviewed to make a complete set; the Committee agreed that this was a good idea and will progress this once it is clear how the original interviews were conducted.

G) HM reported that a number of libraries had been in touch regarding the old BAAS pamphlet series, so it is clear that this series is still generating interest.

H) In closing, HM reported that university funding for conferences is tight in her University and in several others, and asked that the Committee discuss funding executive committee members’ attendance at the annual conference. After a full discussion, it was agreed that Committee members should first seek university or other funding, but that if this was not forthcoming, BAAS would consider paying conference fees for Committee members in good standing. Note: this matter was revisited in January and the outcomes will be presented in the next set of minutes.

6. Treasurer’s Business

A) The Treasurer reported that current membership is as follows: fully paid up, 456 (138 postgraduates); still to renew 134 (38 postgraduates, 48 still need to renew Standing orders). NS is planning a final mailshot soon.

B) NS reported that BAAS balances as of 3/10/03 are as follows: Current £1050; Conference £6427; Lib. Res. £1101; Ed. Dev. £1654; STA £20,987; Deposit £15,114. (Jersey £14,548; US Dollar account $1505.04.)

C) NS reported that further security measures were being put in place in relation to BAAS’s deposit account.

D) NS reported that Elizabeth Clapp has now contacted the bank about the MBAAS money and a cheque would be arriving soon.

E) NS reported that he sent the letter requesting a grant from the US Embassy for the Manchester conference immediately after the last meeting. NS has followed this up with SW, and it appears that Dennis Wolf never received the first letter. SW notes the necessity for a quick decision. SW suggested that we always chase things just in case things go astray.

F) NS is still on the trail of the Halifax (old Leeds) Building Society account and will contact Alun Munslow shortly.

7. Development Subcommittee (SN reporting)

A) SN reported that the subcommittee had received one request for funding from Adrian Hunter at Stirling University for SASA. The Committee agreed to provide a £200 grant.

B) SN reported that much progress had been made on the 50th anniversary celebrations, with JV doing a lot of work on a questionnaire (circulated to the Committee) which will be sent to members via email after the Manchester Conference. It will also be sent to guests, US Embassy personnel, famous expats and those with an interest in the US. KC suggested sending it to Modern History Review, and TW suggested a more serious article for the THES. Various other newspapers were suggested. SN reported that a more serious article on the 50th anniversary was being written by Louis Billington, with the hope that it will be suitable for JAS. If not, ASIB will run it.

C) SN noted that a lot of the subcommittee time was spent discussing conference matters, and it was proposed that JV and SW sit in on the conference committee in the future; TW supported this idea, and the Committee as a whole agreed. SN reported that they discussed the 50th anniversary conference particularly, and that initial contact had been made with contacts in Cambridge. The dates of the conference have been finalized as 14-17 April. JV has been working on EAAS and their participation in the 50th conference, noting that it should be possible to advertise the cfp for Cambridge more widely in Europe given the fact that EAAS will meet in conjunction with it. There was a general discussion about political and corporate guests, and inviting the Irish Association for American Studies. SW reported that plans to celebrate the Fulbright centenary (9 April 2005) and transatlantic exchanges could be linked in some ways to the conference in 2005. JB suggested trying for a reception for British Fulbright alumni at Cambridge. There was agreement that this was a good idea. JB reported on links with Operation Black Vote and suggested that there may be a link with BAAS and Fulbright in relation to a special youth event tied to BAAS; SW is to explore this further.

D) SN noted that the plans for a 50th anniversary CD were moving forward; JV will email Committee members soon asking for their favourite piece of American music.

E) SN reported on the School Teachers’ initiative, especially in relation to the annual conference. IR has offered to include a mailshot questionnaire (put together by the Development Subcommittee) asking teachers what topics they want; and there are plans to include a focus group at the Manchester conference on what teachers need. It was noted that organising events for teachers on one day of the conference may be the best way forward; IR has mailbase of 600 nationally, but will target the northwest, particularly Greater Manchester 6th form colleges. There were a number of ideas developing in this area.

F) Given that much of the Development Subcommittee time was addressing conferences, it was agreed to move to the report from the Conference Subcommittee next.

8. Conference Subcommittee (TW reporting)

A) TW circulated a report from the Aberystwyth Conference (lodged with the minutes). The most important item of note was there was a small surplus of £759, with further monies possible if UWA is able to collect some outstanding fees.

B) TW reported that the Manchester conference dates are confirmed as 15-18 April, and the planning of the event is well underway, including accommodation, meals, social events calendar, and confirmation of various plenary speakers. There are a lot of good venues available.

C) TW reported that the link with TSA at Aberystwyth had generally run smoothly, with the TSA hosting the reception at the National Library. However, it was felt that from the Manchester conference onwards, TSA members might propose individual sessions and full panels on the transatlantic and be more integrated into the BAAS conference as a whole. The TSA would still be able to hold an AGM if they so desired. HM noted that TSA will be holding their own conference this year at Dundee. TW is to write to Alan Dobson.

D) TW confirmed the Thursday-Sunday dates for the 2005 conference (14-17 April) and the venue: Robinson College. The initial contact person is Ann Holton but a permanent liaison officer will be named shortly. JV and SW have plans to meet the new person to discuss 50th anniversary plans, and TW reiterated his gratitude for JV’s future involvement with the Conference Subcommittee.

E) TW reported that a proforma call for conference venues for 2006 had gone out at the beginning of the summer, but that only a few people had been in contact about it.

F) Finally, TW recorded official thanks to Mike McDonnell for all his work on the subcommittee, and wished him luck in his new position at the University of Sydney. MM’s role was widely acknowledged as key over the last several years, and colleagues expressed both thanks and regret that he was leaving.

G) SC asked that thanks be minuted to TW for an excellent conference at Aberystwyth.

9. Publications Subcommittee (JB reporting)

A) JB reported that Ken Morgan had offered an email report of BRRAM activities, noting that further instalments of the Liverpool Customs Bills of Entry will be released in the remainder of this year. The two projects currently receiving attention are the Nathaniel Phillips Papers and the Edward Long Collection. Microfilming of the Phillips Papers (Slebech Collection) at the National Library of Wales will probably begin in late October or early November; KM is planning a visit there soon. Some additional manuscripts have been deposited at the Merseyside Maritime Museum that supplement the existing BRRAM on the Davenport Papers–the records of a Liverpool slave-trading firm. These are currently being catalogued, though it may take another year before it is completed. KM also reported that the Merseyside Maritime Museum has agreed to microfilm these documents in due course, so that they can be added to the existing set of microfilms of the Davenport Papers. In addition, Prof. David Richardson (University of Hull) has agreed to revise his introductory pamphlet to take account of the newly deposited material. Attached to KM’s report was an email from Paul Knights asking that BAAS send out a call to members who know of good collections that might be microformed. The Committee agreed. GT is to contact Paul Knights.

B) JB discussed an emailed report on EUP from CS. Mark Newman’s book on civil rights currently being revised. Niall Palmer’s book on the 20s was approved at the last editorial board meeting. SN added that a new book on Vietnam, by Mark Taylor, arrived last week, co-published with Alabama. JV noted that copublishing agreements were not always clear to authors, so SN agreed to notify EUP of this, asking them to make sure authors are aware of the co-publishing arrangements.

C) JB noted that the next deadline for ASIB is 15 Jan. GT is to liaise with SM about the conference programme and with JV about the Prague conference details.

D) JB reported PD, SC, HM, and JB attended the last editorial meeting of JAS on 26 September. Issues arising from that meeting included the fact that BAAS subscribers to JAS have fallen yet again, to 70 (from a high in 1995 of 212). CUP are not unduly worried about this fall, noting that electronic versions of journals have had an impact on individual subscriptions across the board. More worrying was the fall in submissions, down to 77 this year from a high point of c130; this fall follows the RAE. There was a general discussion about JAS and the need to be more proactive in seeking contributors, including the use of “in print” calls for contributions, though this needs to be done carefully.

E) JB initiated a discussion stemming generally from PD’s written proposal regarding a role for JAS in the celebration of the 50th anniversary. The discussion evolved to cover the possibility of BAAS members receiving JAS as part of their membership. Any such change would have implications for subscription costs, and the committee would need to discuss with CUP what options might be available. Any subscription change would have to be fully costed, and to be presented to the AGM for approval by members. It was agreed to ask PD to contact CUP to explore the possibilities, and to report back in due course

F) JB also reported that JK had found it difficult to secure reviewers for JAS. A new page has been added to the website with books for review, which may alleviate the problem.

G) JB reported that the website had had a few difficulties over the last few days, because of server problems. This was because it is now run on the Smartchoice server, which has subsequently been taken over by This move has meant that some links have not been updated, but that it will be back up and running soon. GT reported that the newspaper database now included the John Rylands archive, and that this important link would be given more prominence, with clearer signalling of where to look for archival material. Other new links include the form for book reviewers for JAS, and links for postgraduates and other academics to submit details of their research.

H) GT raised issue of US Studies On Line; a special issue will be devoted to the Glasgow conference. GT feels that US Studies On Line needs a new editor, though he is willing to continue to help with the web development. Catherine Morley agreed to take this role on. The Committee offered thanks.

I) GT also raised the issue of new disability legislation which is now in effect regarding websites. IR noted that there is a new 48 page guideline for disability accessibility, which GT has agreed to check out.

10. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (IR)

A) IR began his report by praising the newspaper database, noting that a number of organisations have added links to it, including the US Embassy. Kevin Halliwell is adding further issues, including Irish collections, to the database.

B) IR reported that the Library and Resources subcommittee are in the early stages of planning a conference in July to be held a location yet to be confirmed, though Rothermere has been proposed (John Pinfold to confirm) for academics and postgraduates, on the use of artefacts in American Studies research: particular focus will be on Native Americans, immigration, slavery and elections. Two people have already been identified (including PD on elections) and Tony Tibbles, curator of Transatlantic Slavery museum. IR is following up other leads. JV suggested contacting Mick Gidley.

C) IR noted that the subcommittee is already discussing the BLARS contribution to the 2005 conference; John Pinfold came up with idea of putting together an exhibition on the changing nature of library technology.

D) IR reported that the libraries newsletter has been delayed, though Duncan Heyes has finished the editorial work. David Foster in the American Studies Centre has now joined committee and is working with Duncan Heyes to revamp the content and cover design of the newsletter. In addition, they are also looking for new members.

11. EAAS (JV reporting)

A) JV reported that she is in discussion with EAAS about the faulty distribution of the EAAS newsletter and problems with address labels. She will report back on this issue at the next meeting.

B) JV is chasing the Graz proceedings and list of EAAS chairs.

C) JV reminded Committee members of the dates of the Prague conference (2-5 April 2004) and that the 2005 meeting will be held at Cambridge, though there are logistic issues yet to be resolved, in particular finding some method of funding Eastern European members to come to Cambridge.

12. Fiftieth Anniversary Planning

A) JV noted that much of the planning information had already been discussed in the Development and the Conference subcommittees. Several points were reiterated, and it was agreed that this item still needs a place on the minutes.

B) JV reminded colleagues that she agreed to coordinate the 50th anniversary celebrations, but was not planning to organise it all by herself.

13. Any Other Business

A) NS reported that a BBC producer from Radio 4 had been in touch about BAAS’s 50th anniversary, so this may lead to more coverage of the event.

B) JB again offered many thanks to MM for his work over last 5 years; TW will let MM know that we consider his departure a sad loss for the British American Studies community, though of course we wish him the best in Australia.

C) JV noted that she had an obituary for Philip Taylor from Hull, which precipitated a discussion of obituaries appearing in ASIB. It was agreed that SN would ask a colleague from Glasgow to write an obituary for Esmond Wright, that PD was likely to wish to write one for Mary Eccles, and that Susan Manning could be approached to write one for Kate Fullbrook. GT is to get in touch with each of them individually.

D) IR asked for help in locating an expert in portraiture to help with a query from Antwerp re: 18th American portraiture. SN recommended Mark Pachter of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

14. Date of next meeting

Friday 9 January 2004, at the US Embassy in London.

Dr Heidi Macpherson, Secretary.
Phone (office): (01772) 893039
]Fax: (01772) 892924




Contact Dick Ellis re: Umbrella Organisation and Pan American conference



Contact Alun Munslow about old bank account (Ref 3c)



Work on improving the profile of the BRRAM series (ref 3c)

KM to draft notice for ASIB; JK to check on advertising in JAS.


Get audio tapes made of former chair Judie Newman and current chair PD (ref 5f)



Pursue links with Fulbright and with Operation Black Vote in relation to BAAS conferences (ref 7c)



Work on advertising conference cfp more widely in Europe, particularly for the 2005 conference (ref. 7c)



Compile 50th anniversary cd requests (ref 7d)

JV and full committee


Initiate more active involvement of teachers in upcoming conferences, and send out questionnaire to them (ref 7e).

SN and IR to coordinate


Contact TSA regarding BAAS conferences (ref. 8c)



Pursue contacts regarding 2006 conference venues (ref 8e)



Disseminate information on BRRAM via website, ASIB and mailbase, particularly regarding a call for submissions and contact Paul Knights (ref 9a)



Ask EUP to notify authors of copublishing arrangements (ref 9b)



Include details of Manchester and EAAS conferences in next ASIB (deadline 15 January) (ref 9c)

GT to liaise with SM and JV


Discuss proposal to link JAS subscription with membership (ref 9e)

PD to discuss cost details and initiate email discussion with executive committee

Asap; full proposal needs to be in place by Jan. 15.

Explore the new disability requirements re: website accessibility (ref 9i)



Pursue EAAS on addressing difficulties and on Graz proceedings (refs. 11a and b)



Organise obituaries in ASIB for leading Americanists (ref 13c)