The American Historical Association (AHA) recently put together a draft revision of its taxonomy of the discipline and invited comment from members as it moves toward a final form of the document. The deadline for comment was September 30, 2014. This interesting topic was found on the U.S Intellectual History Blog in their post, ‘The Celestial Emporium of Historical Knowledge.”

This crowdsourced project starts with the list of subfields from which those joining, or renewing their membership in, the AHA select when describing their professional interests. These self-descriptions become the basis for the AHA’s understanding of the overall shape of the discipline, no small matter for the principal professional organization of historians. The downfall to this is the limitation of only three categories and that the contributions can only come from members of AHA.

The blogger also added an interesting observation — “One final thought: it does seem to me that digital technology might allow the AHA to ditch the old three-category limit or, with a little more effort, replace the simple list of thematic subfields with some sort of thematic schema that provides more of a sense of the relationship of these subfields to each other.” Of course, that doesn’t fix the membership issue.

Melody K. Smith

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