On Saturday, October, 2017, Eastern Connecticut State University hosted the 99th meeting of the New England Historical Association (NEHA) at the Student Center.
The NEHA conference at Eastern brought together undergraduates, graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty of all levels, from assistant professor to emeritus, in a collegial and welcoming environment. The topics ranged temporally from colonial New England to the Falklands War and geographically from the history of Southeast Asia to the Balkans. Several roundtables addressed best practices in historical research and teaching the history survey.
Eastern History faculty, alumni, and students were well-represented on the program (link: http://www.newenglandhistorians.org/conferences/2017-fall. In the early morning panels (8:30-10:00am), Miles Wilkerson ’15 presented “The Moral Treatment: On the Institutionalization of People with Disabilities in the Anglophone Atlantic, 1660-1860,” while Dr. Barbara Tucker moderated a lively discussion for the panel “Liberty for Whom? Perspectives on Slavery and the American Civil War” and Dr. Jamel Ostwald commented on the session “Remembering Wars and Warriors.”
At the same time, Adam Murphy ’18 presented “A Professor’s Experience in Indonesia: Examining the Partnership Between University of Kentucky and Bogor Agricultural College, 1957-1966,” for which Dr. Joan Meznar chaired and commented on the overall panel, “The Influence of the West on the World, for Good and Ill.”
At the book exhibit, Eastern faculty were equally present in force, as the publications of Drs. Tucker, Ostwald, Kirchmann, Davis, and Carenen featured prominently. In the second morning session, Eastern alumnus Jim Loughead ’04 of Mansfield Public Schools was a discussant at a Teaching Social Studies roundtable moderated by NEHA President Troy Paddock.
Over lunch, Dean Cid welcomed the participants. She was very pleased to see Eastern join the list of host organizations that includes the region’s leading colleges and universities (link: http://www.newenglandhistorians.org/conferences/past-conferences).
At the lunch, NEHA President Troy Paddock presented the organization’s annual award for best book to the prize-winning historian Nathaniel Philbrick (http://www.nathanielphilbrick.com).
In the afternoon panel (1:45-3:15pm), Eastern faculty were particularly active. Dr. Scott Moore presented “The Reluctant Warrior: War and Memory in Habsburg Austria,” along with Dr. Carenen’s “’Grants for Guerillas’: Americans and International Terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s,” in a fascinating panel on “Perceptions of War and Terror from Habsburg Austria to the United States in the Twentieth Century.”
Dr. Balcerski moderated a panel, “Far from Home: Adventure, Labor and Tragedy on the Seas and Across the Ice,” that featured the research of Dr. Tucker, “Ship’s Boys: Child Labor on the High Seas, 1800-1860.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Anna Kirchmann presented ““Don’t Tear Me Down: Urban Renewal in a New England Mill Town” on a panel dealing with “Development and Redevelopment in New England.” Finally, Dr. Bradley Davis participated in a discussion on “The State of the Historical Survey.”
The NEHA meeting at Eastern was one for the history books. According to Martin Menke, Executive Secretary of NEHA, approximately 115 people attended the twenty sessions of the conference, which places the fall 2017 conference on the high-end of historical attendance and scope of panels.
The leadership of NEHA were very appreciative of Eastern’s facilities and arrangements. Erik Jensen, NEHA vice president, said, “I heard many compliments from our members and attendees on the quality of the ECSU facilities and the helpfulness of the student assistants. It was a pleasure to bring NEHA to Eastern.”
The students and faculty of the Eastern History Department truly stood out for the quality of their participation, whether presenting research or asking questions from the audience. The NEHA conference was a banner day for History at Eastern.