ACHA Newsletter: Spring 2019

Greetings to each of you! We had a wonderfully cool and wet spring season in New Mexico; a couple of weekends ago I was fortunate to hike up in the Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque, and there were more flowers than I’ve seen in my time here. We have a yucca in our front yard that has been waiting years for a season like this, and for the first time it’s exploding in bloom.

It was a good spring at the American Catholic Historical Association also. The members of the program committee, under the leadership of Mary Henold and with the assistance of our Vice President Jim Carroll, have been doing much of the heavy lifting around the ACHA over the last month. Thanks to their efforts, the program for the 2020 annual conference in New York City is taking shape, and will include exceptional offerings. We received an unusually high number of paper and panel submissions this year, with many young scholars and other newcomers to ACHA included in their ranks. I believe this is a reflection of growing interest and energy in the organization, and that it will translate to an especially strong slate of sessions selected for the January conference.

For the first time, the ACHA will host a pair of joint sessions with the American Society of Church History, intended to bring scholars together to discuss categories of critical interest across both organizations. The selected themes for the two panels in 2020 are “missions” and “blood”. The program committee is also planning several events to honor our meeting location in New York City, including multiple “off site” gatherings, as well as a plenary session on Catholicism in the New York metropolitan area, which will honor the work of Jim Fisher.

Although the annual conference still feels a long way off, it’s not too soon to begin making plans to attend. As you do, please note that this year the conference will be held from Friday, January 3rd to Sunday, January 5th (this corresponds with a slight change the American Historical Association has made to the timing of its own conference, which usually begins on Thursday but will start on Friday for the 2020 meeting).

The American Catholic Historical Association did not hold a spring meeting this year, but I’m pleased to say that the University of Scranton has graciously offered to host the association next year for its spring 2020 meeting. A big thank you to Roy Domenico is in order, for stepping in to help with the early coordination and planning of this! More details about that meeting will be forthcoming in future newsletters.

Other ACHA committees were also at work this spring. A couple of months ago we held our first meeting of the reconstituted ACHA finance committee. In addition, a new committee on prizes, led by Tricia Pyne and Jeff Burns, has drafted a policy that will standardize the processes involved in administration of the association’s many awards. On the subject of prizes, I’d like to remind all members that the deadline to submit books for consideration for the John Gilmary Shea prize is at the end of this week (June 15th); and looking ahead, the deadline for our John Tracy Ellis dissertation award is in September. Please refer to the association’s website for details on those and other prizes.

Finally, a brief announcement regarding an important initiative that may be of interest to some ACHA members: Scholars from several University of California branches are partnering with California tribal nations on a “Critical Mission Studies” initiative for the study of Catholic missions in California. There are postdocs and other grants available, with a first-round proposal deadline of June 29, 2019. For more information on the initiative and its offerings, see

I hope that this summer proves to be a time of scholarly productivity, happiness in community, and also welcome quiet and rest for all of you. I look forward to being in touch again with more updates later in the season.

Kathleen Holscher
ACHA President (2019)

Founded by Peter Guilday in 1919, the American Catholic Historical Association has done much good to advance the study of Catholic history.