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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 251


Meeting 251

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: June 15, 2007

Minutes of the 251st meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Rothermere American Institute, Oxford on June 15, 2007.

1. Present

H Macpherson (Chair), J Davies (Vice Chair) C Morley (Secretary) G Thompson (Treasurer), I Bell, R Crockatt, W Kaufman, G Lewis, I Ralston, T Saxon, I Scott,


S Castillo, P Davies, M Halliwell, S MacLachlan, J Metcalf

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

After minor corrections, these were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.

3. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

Action List Review

UCLAN 2010: TS confirmed support of hosting BAAS annual conference;
RC has sent out message to members via the BAAS mailbase regarding funding opportunities and BAAS awards;
On the issue of Eccles funding GT has invoiced PD for Eccles Awards money and is awaiting a cheque;
HM noted that action regarding the naming of Teaching Assistantships was to be carried over.

4. Chair’s Business

HM formally welcomed all new members to the Executive Committee.

(a) Announcements
HM noted that Dr Robert Harrison (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) died on Sunday 6 May 2007. Dr Harrison had been a member of the Department of History and Welsh History at UWA for almost forty years. He specialised in American history, particularly the 20th Century, publishing two monographs, entitled Congress, Progressive Reform, and the new American State (CUP 2004), and State and Society in Twentieth-Century America (1997). He was responsible for organising and hosting the first UWA BAAS conference in the late 60s/early 70s. Always a firm advocate for American Studies in our country and abroad, he will be sorely missed in UWA and by his BAAS colleagues.

Promotions/Awards: Mark Phythian has been appointed as Chair of Politics in the field of international security & global foreign policy at the University of Leicester. Dr. Rebecca Earle has been promoted to a Readership at Warwick. Professor Margaret Walsh (Nottingham), has been awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Professorship. Dick Ellis has been promoted to a Professorship at Birmingham. Congratulations are extended to them all.

HM was informed by Professor Judie Newman that one of Nottingham’s second year students received the Institute for Study of the Americas essay prize

(b) Correspondence received
HM was asked to respond on behalf of BAAS to the HEFCE review of specialist library funding.
HM offered hanks to all members of the executive who helped to draft the response (circulated in the meeting).

(c) Correspondence written
HM wrote to Michael McDonnell, one-time BAAS exec member to congratulate him on the birth of daughter Carys.
HM reported that SN wrote to the conference organizers to thank them for their hard work as his last official duty as outgoing BAAS chair.

(d) Invitations
HM was invited to attend an event at the Rothermere to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan. “The Marshall Plan: remembering the past, looking to the future” by Robert H. Tuttle, US Ambassador, on 5th June. She had to decline the invitation.
HM has been invited to a luncheon with former President Jimmy Carter on 21 June at the Rothermere American Institute and she will attend on behalf of BAAS.
HM will also meet with Penny Egan, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission next month in Leicester.
HM is attending the AHRC summer event in London next week.

(e) Other Actions Taken
HM introduced herself via the Heads of American Studies email list and keep them up to date regularly, noting the postgraduate conference, and the CD project in particular.
HM spoke on Flag Day with the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire programme ‘Stars and Stripes’

(f) Student numbers UG/PG
SN reported to HM that he had attended the AHRC PG funding launch event at the Foundling Hospital at the end of May on BAAS’s behalf. [HM has seen the AHRC’s summary of positions, and they have taken a very positive view of the consultations, noting that most institutions approved or were neutral about the idea; in relation to subject associations, however, the picture was significantly more mixed, though again a very positive spin was put on it as latest figures were for 80% block grants for PG awards!].
Guy Thomson (Warwick) informed HM that from October 2008, Warwick’s BA degree, Comparative American Studies, will be renamed History, Literature and Cultures of the Americas. The content will remain the same.
HM noted Alisdair Spark’s summary analysis of AS figures nationally which he presented to a conference in Exeter, using UCAS numbers as the basis for his work. This issue is raised in full under Development Subcommittee Business.

(g) New Group
HM reported the development of new groups, in particular the Historians of 20th Century America who will be setting up a new committee. The group will hold an inaugural 2-day conference in mid-to late June 2008 (to become annual). Eventually they hope to seek charitable status. HM and other Exec officers expressed concern that an unintended consequence of this would be that fewer 20th century historians would attend the annual BAAS conference, which would run counter to our concerted efforts over the last two years to reach back out to this group of scholars. GL reported that he’d had positive feedback on the representation of history in the BAAS conference. There is a real chance here for BAAS to build on GL’s work at Leicester to incorporate twentieth-century history. IS attended this meeting and raised the issues of concern and invited the HTCA group to play a large part in BAAS.
IS spoke with Axel Schafer who said the group was very keen to maintain links to BAAS and perhaps have an organised panel or remit at the conference. GL queried whether someone from the BAAS Exec might be on the HTCA committee. HM considered inviting them to come and have a meeting at the BAAS conference (like the TSA model in the past). HM will write officially to the HTCA and encourage them to maintain strong links with BAAS.

(h) HM was approached by Christine Heckman from Syracuse University who is putting together an event to commemorate the Putney Events and is hoping that BAAS might be involved and has requested the names of people who might be contacted for speaking. HM will continue to liaise on BAAS’s behalf and offer some names.

5. Secretary’s Business

(a) The Secretary noted that she had no items to distribute this quarter which hadn’t already been circulated by email.

(b) CM reported that she had been in very regular contact with the previous Secretary regarding the transition, and acclimatising to the new role. She has updated all the BAAS exec lists, phone numbers, contact details, etc. These were also passed on to GT for the website (now updated). She has welcomed new members to the Exec and directed them to the Charities Commission website to check their responsibilities. She also updated lists with the US Embassy.

(c) CM noted that her main role revolved around information flow. She helped direct people with research and grant queries to the appropriate sources; directed potential PhD candidates to appropriate members of the subject community; liaised with Ralph Willet about some Abu Ghraib papers which have been directed to interested BAAS researchers; updated the BAAS Externals List; liaised with John Canning regarding the LLAS survey.

(d) CM wrote to the Journal of American Studies with our recommended nominees for the Editorial Board as well as informing them of the new BAAS officers and Chair of Publications Sub-Committee.
(e) CM reported that she had attended an event at the Rothermere to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan: “The Marshall Plan: Remembering the Past, Looking to the Future” by Robert H. Tuttle, US Ambassador, 5th June. She has also been invited to a luncheon with former President Jimmy Carter on 21 June at the Rothermere American Institute and she will, along with HM and MH, attend on behalf of BAAS.

6. Treasurer’s Business

(a) The Treasurer circulated a report to the committee noting that the bank accounts (as at 15/6/07) are as follows: General Deposit, £25,914.11; Short Term Awards, £11,409.47; Current, £3,079.79; Library and Resources, £727.87; Education and Dev, £5,011.07; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £47,112.27. In addition the RBS Jersey has £14,973.10 and the US Dollar Account has $5,647.27,

(b) Gift Aid money of £4699.45 went into the Bank Account last week. The plan is to do a mailshot over the summer and submit another claim. It is hoped that this claim will bring us to date and then we can submit annual claims.

(c) GT had a query with the accountants over the split between Governance and Support Costs which they split 75% and 25%. This has been changed to 50/50 in the final accounts.

(d) GT reported that current membership figures for 2007 for fully paid up members stand at 462 members including 163 postgraduates. This compares favourably to the position last year on this date, which was 407 members (138 of which were postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 531 (with183 postgraduates. Again, this compares favourably with the June 2006 numbers of 492 members (of which 161 are postgraduates). The highest possible membership figure (taking into account the above and those who have yet to renew for 2007) is 609 (with 219 postgraduates). This time last year the numbers stood at 592 (including 211 postgraduates).

(e) HM questioned how membership compared with April. GT responded that it was more-or-less the same as most people had joined just before the conference.

(f) The conference Account is down to £969.96 – this is because the PG supplement has been taken out and given to Leicester. The float, however, is to return once the Leicester accounts are finalised.

7. Development Subcommittee (RC reporting)

(a) RC attended the advisory board of the LLAS last week, (noting that it did not seem to be attended by many people in Area Studies, which was an area of concern).

(b) The recruitment CD is to go ahead and Dick Ellis has confirmed that it will be completed by the Autumn. The Development subcommittee discussed how BAAS would purchase the CDs and how they would be distributed. A suggestion was made that guidelines would be provided on how they were to be used when they were distributed. Thus, there is a need for BAAS to engage directly with Schools. The specific recommendation is to purchase at least 5,000 copies (maybe even 10,000). The expected shelf life of the CD is five years. The cost will be btw 33-50p/unit (+VAT). For 10,000 at the lower end of the price spectrum this would amount to approx £3,300, exclusive of VAT. For 5,000, this figure is halved. GL queried the possibility of making multiple orders. IS suggested tapping into the Embassy’s Area Studies budget and the Embassy’s listserv and Jean Petrovic’s list and John Moores’s list. RC will go ahead and speak to Dick about ordering a maximum of 10,000 copies (not the recommended 20,000 copies). However, it was unanimously felt that we need to see the BAAS CDs before they are purchased.

(c) HM said that BAAS should also include a cover letter with details of the organisation when we distribute the American Studies CD.

(d) Request for funding from IR to finance annual schools conference in National Maritime Museum for £200. Agreed.

(e) On the issue of liaising with schools, RC stressed the need for consistent contact. RC circulated a mail from a Mr Low in Scotland who contacted BAAS looking for American Studies materials to include on his curriculum. RC has offered to visit Mr Low, if BAAS thought it was a good idea. BAAS agreed to fund this.

(f) GT suggested a space for schools on the BAAS website. There is already a list of universities offering AmStuds degree courses on the LINKS section of the website. But, GT suggested some generic links about what actually constitutes American Studies: ‘Why Study American Studies?’ Perhaps include blurbs from graduates and teachers to include (information from the American Studies survey conducted by Martin Padgett and Will Kaufman). WK to send materials from survey to RC and then RC to organise and prepare for the website.

8. Postgraduate Business (RC reporting on behalf of JM)

(a) BAAS Postgraduate Conference
Everyone should have received a poster both by email, to individual departments, and by post. JM expressed concern that Manchester has not received many paper proposals despite the deadline being 30 June. The Exec was asked to encourage any PGs to consider submitting a proposal (250 words) or at least consider attending. Details are on both BAAS and University of Manchester websites. Not many proposals just yet so please encourage PGs to apply.

(b) Report from Postgraduate meeting in Leicester
JM noted a good attendance of PGs at the meeting, and thanked GL for kindly organising a lunch. The group spoke about the BAAS PG conference. Claire Elliott discussed the listserv, of which quite a few PGs were unaware. The group also discussed BAAS awards and again quite a few PGs were not aware of their existence or hadn’t applied as had assumed they were immensely popular. There were many questions about criteria for the awards etc. – therefore this meeting proved a good opportunity to promote the awards.

(c) Leicester & Suggestions for Edinburgh
JM spoke with a few postgraduates who didn’t know anyone else attending the Leicester conference, and who were slightly overwhelmed by it all despite saying everyone was very friendly etc. JM wondered if next year the Edinburgh organisers might provide:
a list of postgraduate names & universities to be put in the conference packs for postgraduates;
a note in the schedule mentioning that the PG lunch is compulsory or at least ‘strongly encouraged’. Here, the Exec felt ‘compulsory’ too strong but would ‘strongly encourage.’
a specific postgraduate table at the banquet dinner where PGs can all sit together. JM mentioned the difficulties with this in terms of potentially isolating PGs from the main conference. The Exec felt that a separate list would be appropriate but not a separate table at dinner.

9. Publications Subcommittee (CM reporting on behalf of MH)

Papers tabled by KM in advance of the meeting.

(a) Advertising for Special Editors in the ‘publishing opportunities’ column of the BAAS newsletter has been fruitful, with a project idea from Natalie Zacek being actively pursued (see below).

(b) Dr Vassie and KM visited the Surrey History Centre, Woking, in February 2007 to discuss the microfilming of Jamaican material in the Goulburn Collection. Contracts have been signed and the filming is scheduled for December 2007. KM will be the Special Editor for this project. Filming will not take place until December as the only room high enough for the camera is not available until December. TS suggested a film of the filming process might be useful for marketing purposes.

(c) The Darien material at the National Library of Scotland (18 reels) has now been released, with an introduction by Dr Vassie.

(d) Microform Academic Publishers have confirmed a model agreement with Liverpool City Council in order to publish materials from their record office. Dr Vassie and KM visited Liverpool in August 2006 to discuss a filming project on “Records relating to Liverpool Merchants and the Slave Trade in the Liverpool Record Office.” KM will be the Special Editor for this title. KM and RV anticipate that the filming should be completed by August 2007. A model agreement text is in place.

(e) Arrangements have been confirmed for a BRRAM title on “The American Correspondence of Arthur C. Murray with Franklin D. Roosevelt.” These manuscripts are deposited at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. MAP has signed a publishing agreement with the NLS and filming has been carried out. The Special Editor will be Dr Tony McCulloch, Head of History and American Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University, and he intends to submit his introduction before Christmas 2007. The sub-committee considered Dr McCulloch’s CV (it was circulated electronically in advance) and all are very happy for him to go ahead as Special Editor. KM is awaiting the ‘Introduction’ by Dr McCulloch who promises to have it ready by December. KM and RV has filmed all the correspondence of Murray, which offers insights into his friendships with the Roosevelts.

(f)Following on from details mentioned in KM’s last report, a BRRAM on “The Canadian Papers of the 4th Earl of Minto” will be published at the NLS. Dr McCulloch will serve as Special Editor for this title. KM and RV are awaiting a definitive list of documents for filming. Dr McCulloch will travel to Edinburgh later this month to finalise what exactly needs to be filmed. This is expected to appear midway through 2008.

(g) Dr Natalie Zacek (Lecturer in American History, University of Manchester) has made a proposal for a BRRAM on the Papers of Samuel Martin, an eighteenth-century Antiguan sugar planter. Martin’s Papers are deposited at the British Library. This project will proceed subject to confirmation of a publishing agreement between MAP and the BL. It looks quite promising with 6/7 volumes of letters and accounts between Martin and his manager. This may be completed by the end of the year.

(h) In May 2007 RV visited the University of Nottingham and looked at some papers among the collections of the Dukes of Newcastle-under-Lyme and of Portland on the American War of Independence. We hope to produce selections from these manuscripts as a BRRAM title. The University of Nottingham holds the copyright for these Papers, so a publishing agreement between the university and MAP should proceed smoothly. RV visited their special collections this month and has been in touch with a specialist historian and there seems to be a lot of information on the American War of Independence. RV is still in contact, trying to finalise an agreement to publish. RV and CM suggested that this could be listed as a potential project in the next edition of ASIB.

(i) Discussions over the publication of the USPG remaining Canadian papers now held at Rhodes House Library, Oxford, are on-going but, despite appearing positive, have been slow due to the relocation of the USPG’s HQ. RV will go Rhodes House on 15 June 2007 to pursue.

(j) Other potential projects include the Melville Papers (with Dr David Brown, National Archives of Scotland, as likely Editor) which is a likely project for next year. Other possible projects might include the Lady Liston Papers 1796-1800, the Nisbett Papers (1756-1792), the papers of Alexander Houston and Co. (1776-81) with the suggestion of Douglas Hamilton (Hull) as Editor, and the journal of Lady Liston which document her travels in North America.

(k) RV has contacted Sue Manning at Scottish Transatlantic Research (STAR) but has yet to have a response. He will pursue the contact.

(l) HM congratulated KM and RV for their work here.

Edinburgh University Press (EUP) (CM reporting on behalf of CS and SN)
(a) CS and SN have written to the Secretary to confirm that on most occasions the BAAS/EUP series report can be transmitted by email, and thus save BAAS their expenses.

(b) As it is so soon after the conference there is little to report. CS, SN and Nicky Ramsey met on the final day to discuss books nearing completion, others that will soon be submitted, and ideas for new titles. Since then CS, SN and Nicky Ramsey have contacted various people, but have not had not got any firm proposals in yet.

(c) Finally, Nicky Ramsey and EUP were delighted with the conference, as they sold more books there than ever before.

Journal of American Studies
(a) Since the last meeting, CM has written to JAS with the nominations for the Editorial Board which were welcomed with the assurance that all the nominees would be contacted. CM also wrote to informed JAS of the new officers and the new Publications Sub-Committee Chair.

American Studies in Britain (ASIB)
(a) The advertisement for a new Editor went online immediately after the conference. There was quite a lot of interest in the post, and CM received inquires from more than 10 different people. Some excellent applications were received. A shortlist has been drawn up and MH will contact the new Editor when the whole committee has finalised. This needs to go to the main Exec for ratification first.

(b) Deadline for next edition is 11 August.

US Studies Online
(a) Nothing to report since the last report from Elizabeth Boyle.

BAAS Website
(a) The advert for a new Webster went online but GT has received no expressions of interest in
the post. TS suggested canvassing graduates at the BAAS PG conference, who might have the relevant IT skills and could perhaps work closely with GT on this. HM suggested that we contact people who might be likely or willing candidates (informal network).

(b) GT noted that the BAAS web host was taken over recently and this has caused some problems as the facility offered by new host is not a good as the last one. In the past we’ve had discussions about message boards and public forums and the potential of a BAAS Wiki opens up those discussions again. Until a new web host, capable of hosting a Wiki, is found then discussion of this issue will have to be put on hold. Hopefully the new web host will be arranged over the summer.

(c) All details of the new Exec have gone online. Colleagues should check to ensure that details are accurate and inform the Secretary if details change.

10. Conference Subcommittee (GT reporting on behalf of SM)

(a) GL has put all useful conference organisation details on to a CD to pass on to RM at Edinburgh as well as a list of costings. GL has received very positive feedback from about 60 people about conference, mainly praising the History pathway that could be traced throughout the conference.

(b) An issue came up about PGs who signed up and claimed reduced PG rate but who were not BAAS members. These (about 12) were chased and all but 2 paid the outstanding amount immediately. BAAS needs to think about a system for checking this. Also, there is a problem with people signing up without being members of BAAS. HM noted that ASA members can have BAAS member rate. GL suggested the assignment of a membership number to each BAAS member. The Exec agreed the implementation of membership numbers with the incorporation of membership status into the number (e.g. PG/R/U, etc.).

(c) As a matter of course from here on, the conference organisers will need to incorporate a BAAS registration form on the conference registration form.

(d) Another Leicester issue was that of Banquet attendance and the possibility of finalising this in advance. GT suggested building in the number of prize-winners into banquet numbers.

(e) On the issue of the conference AGM it was unanimously agreed to continue with Friday given the success and large attendance at the meeting in Leicester.

(f) Next year BAAS will trial the subsidised retired members (subject to availability) conference rate.

(g) RM has contacted a poster designer and the BAAS conference poster should be ready by early September (currently working out designs). RM has done a provisional costing for the conference. It seems likely that that cost will be approximately £300 for BAAS member with en-suite accommodation. There is a slight problem with the rooms, insofar as RM is unsure how many rooms available in each of the locations. This will be clarified by the next meeting. Standard and en-suite accommodation will be available.

(h) The Conference subcommittee discussed the issue of Sunday conference events. RM suggested not providing a formal lunch as people leave on Sunday. Lunch will be available but people will have to pay for this themselves. There is a room cost cut-off for noon also. This was accepted and agreed by the Exec.

(i) Postgraduate support team will be organised in September, although one postgraduate student – Kirsten Phimister – is already helping RM. RM is putting together a programme committee over the summer.

(j) Alex Salmond is to be invited to the conference with the hope that he might offer an address.

(k) RM raised the issue of an Early American History symposium on Thursday. RM was asked to provide more details on the logistics of this and to find someone else to organise it rather than take it on himself.

(l) On the issue of Nottingham 2009 GT confirmed that contracts had been signed and CMB will make the next meeting.
On the subject of the 2010 conference at UEA, SM has contacted Chris Bigsby who is definitely interested, SM is awaiting details on hotels and other practicalities. UCLAN might be on board for 2011.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)

(a) IS discussed spending money for publicity in 2008: at the high end the amount could be £1200. However, the subcommittee would be happy to spend half that on particular awards like Schools, Essays, Ambassadors, BAAS PG Essay, etc.

(b) Awards development was discussed in general terms: SN is in the process of developing further Teaching Assistantships (PG and hopefully research) and an English MA Teaching Assistantship at New Hampshire is in development. There is a slight problem at New Hampshire, regarding the wording and agreement of what is offer at New Hampshire. IS to continue dialogue on this regarding what precisely is on offer.

(c) IS mentioned that he will be writing a full draft of rules and regulations for entering into the various awards categories. Applicants for STAs should ensure that references need to be submitted in sealed envelopes. Electronic submissions need to be amended in this regard and the onus is on the applicant to make sure the referee delivers their entry.

(d) IS called for volunteers for judging panels (adding that we should encourage non-Exec colleagues).

(e) Abraham Lincoln STA has now been advertised online.

(f) GT suggested not making Honourable Mentions for those who are not present at the conference (it was agreed that perhaps the best way forward is to list Honourable Mentions on the programme).

(g) IS noted that it has not been the protocol of Awards Committee to write to all non-successful applicants of awards (other than STAs). The Exec discussed whether it was best to keep a disclaimer at the top of the Award application outlining that unsuccessful applicants would not be contacted. IB suggested asking the Chairs of each judging panel to write. IS to consider this further before next meeting.

12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (IR reporting)

(a) IR mentioned potential problems regarding funding in his last report but happily notes that a grant from the Embassy has recently been confirmed. Additional funding is to come from Eurospan inserts into the BLARs journal which will be circulated to members with the next edition of ASIB.

(b) As a result of the success of the Wiki session at the Leicester conference: IR spoke to James McKay about the potential of holding two sessions (one involving Internet research and Internet for teaching) at the Edinburgh conference.

(c) IR wondered about co-opting James Mckay on to the Libraries sub-committee and will bring it up as an issue at BLARs meeting on the 26 June.

(d) Another issue arising from the Leicester session was how universities prepare students to make use of electronic resources. BLARs is to put forward a position paper with suggestions for good practice on the use of electronic resources. This will be submitted to committee for further discussion on how to distribute to universities,

(e) IR feels that the Wiki on Special Collections has been successful and could perhaps be transferred to the BAAS site but only if there might be some way to restrict alteration. IR feels that placement on the BAAS website will offer heavier academic weight than its current Wikipedia position.

(f) IR noted that he was very pleased by response to his report at the AGM. Numerous people have put themselves forward. New Chair of Libraries will be Dick Ellis. Jo Gill will replace CM on BLARs and George Conyne will replace David Forster. Dick Ellis’s details are to be added to the Exec list and posted to the website. IR will happily help out with Schools work, etc.

(g) HM, on behalf of the Exec and BAAS, offered thanks to IR for all his hard work.

13. EAAS

(a) PD has been very proactive in updating details and his report is to follow.

14. Any Other Business

(a) HM noted that it was time to consider the Schools Liaison Co-optation. HM to write to HL to ask if she is happy to re-stand.

(b) WK has suggested the possibility of a different Schools Liaison Officer for each American Studies strand. However, the Standing Orders (checked by CM and HM) do not allow for this.

(c) The Exec discussed difficulties in getting Schools on board given the problems with timetabling, etc. IR suggested Paul Blackburn (recipient) be co-opted as an additional co-optee. IR said two main areas at A- and AS-levels are History and Politics. IR stressed the need for dialogue with Schools-liaison person. HM to contact Paul Blackburn as possible replacement for HL if the latter is unwilling to re-stand as Schools Liaison Officer.

(d) JD noted that the AGM of Academy of Social sciences has been moved to Tuesday 19 June. Given the late notice of this and the unavailability of the officers, BAAS will send apologies.

15. Date of next meeting

Saturday 29th September in Leicester at De Monfort University, Subcommittees to begin at 10.30am.

Dr. Catherine Morley
Office Phone: (01865) 484977