President’s 2008/09 Message to the Membership

The AFIHR board met during the NACBS conference in Cincinnati in November 2008. The new Director of the IHR, Professor Miles Taylor, opened our meeting with an excellent sketch of his ambitious and exciting plans and ideas for the future.

Thanks to your continuing generosity, we were able to allocate funds to help support important programs and library acquisitions. We devoted $2,500 to bursaries to help North American graduate students attend the IHR’s summer History Lab conference in 2009; last year’s grant for this purpose supported participation by three graduate students in the 2008 meeting. We granted $5,000 to the library (for the purchase of Macaulay’s journals, Harriet Martineau’s collected letters, the African American national biography, and a contribution to the cost of obtaining access to the digitized version of the 17th and 18th century Burney newspapers). The remaining $4,600 will support implementation of Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) in the Royal Historical Bibliography of British and Irish History. This will enable users to register searches in their areas of interest which will receive automatic e-mail updates as new items are added to the Bibliography. This is a version of SDI which we can all heartily welcome.

Our board also approved a new option for AFIHR members to receive for $30 (a substantial discount) a year’s remote access to British History Online’s “premium content” which makes the 800 volumes that have been digitized fully cross-searchable. These include the Journals of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the Statutes of the Realm, the Victoria County History, and most of the Calendars of State Papers. It is expected that the remaining CSP volumes will become available during the next twelve months, along with the Calendars of the Close Rolls and the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England.

Income from charges for the “premium content” will be used to publish further free content.

I am most grateful to David Bates, Miles Taylor, Jane Winters, Michelle Waterman, Mira Chotaliya, Emily Morrell and others at the IHR for consulting with me via e-mail and meeting with me when I have been in London to discuss this attractive idea and figure out how to turn it into a reality. I am also grateful for the enthusiasm my fellow board members displayed when I first proposed it over a year ago and delighted that we are now in a position to move ahead. We hope that this option will be a boon for scholars who work at institutions whose libraries cannot afford access to the online resources that those of us who work for research universities enjoy.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee