Conference on Latin American History

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Conference on Latin American History, (CLAH), founded in 1926, is the professional organization of Latin American historians affiliated with the American Historical Association. It publishes the journal The Hispanic American Historical Review . [1] [2]



In 1916 a group of Latin American historians within the American Historical Association met to create institutional structures for this branch of history. Latin Americanists were marginalized within the AHA, with few sessions at the annual meeting and limited space within the American Historical Review. This group founded The Hispanic American Historical Review at the Cincinnati meeting of the AHA. [3] [4] Further work building a professional organization was accomplished in 1926 at the American Historical Association annual meeting in Rochester. Latin Americanists sought to expand the teaching of Latin American history and organized a session entitled "Means and Methods of Widening among Colleges and Universities an Interest in the Study of Hispanic-American History". The 1926 meeting led further work to create an identifiable group within the American Historical Association. [5] The constitution of the Conference on Latin American History was adopted in December 1938. [6] CLAH gained a firmer institutional grounding with its incorporation in the District of Columbia in 1964, giving it a legal identity, and locating its offices in the Hispanic Foundation (now Hispanic Division) in the Library of Congress. With that step, CLAH was no longer an organic part of the AHA, but "an affiliated but autonomous body." [7]

In 1964, the AHA was granted $125,000 by the Ford Foundation to aid over three years the expansion of CLAH's activities. The AHA received the funds that were disbursed to CLAH. All funding was for programmatic purposes and not for the support of individuals’ research. The projects identified for funding were to provide a bibliographical guide to nineteenth- and twentieth-century newspapers; develop policies for the collection of historical statistics for the field; discuss and plan for a multivolume history of Latin America; develop teaching aids for the field; fund for small conferences; earmark funds for preparation of colonial sources for publication; and develop a publication series of general works. The Hispanic Foundation at the Library of Congress was named the repository of the CLAH archives and provided services for the CLAH Secretariat. [8]

Women have participated in CLAH leadership since its early years, with four serving as Secretary Treasurer: Lillian Estelle Fisher (1928) and 1935–39; Mary W. Williams (1929–1934); Vera B. Holmes (1940–1943); and Ruth L. Butler (1944–1948). The first woman president of CLAH was Madaline Nicols in 1949, with a gap of 38 years until Peggy Liss was elected in 1987. The first woman recipient of the Bolton (now Bolton-Johnson) Prize for the best book in English was in 1977, with Doris M. Ladd, for The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780-1826 (University of Texas Press). The first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Award was Ursula Lamb in 1990. The first woman to be Executive Director of CLAH was Donna J. Guy in 1991–92. The first CLAH president originally from Latin America is Asunción Lavrin, 2001–02. [9]

Organizational structure

The organization is governed by the General Committee. There is an executive committee: president (formerly chair), vice president, past president, and the executive secretary. Serving ex officio on the General Committee is the editor of Hispanic American Historical Review , the editor of The Americas, and the editor of H-LATAM, the National Endowment for the Humanities listserv for Latin America. [10] As CLAH grew in membership and complexity of its fields, it established a series of committees with regional or other focus including Andean Studies, Atlantic world studies; Borderlands/Frontiers; Brazilian Studies; Caribbean Studies; Central American Studies; Chile-Rio de la Plata studies; Colonial studies; Gran Colombian studies; Mexican studies; and the committee on teaching and teaching materials. [11]


Starting in 1953, CLAH established a series of prizes, the first being the James A. Robertson Prize for the best article published in the Hispanic American Historical Review, followed by others for particular fields. Prizes now include the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor of the organization; the Herbert E. Bolton-John J. Johnson Prize for the best book in English on Latin American history; the Lewis Hanke Award to enable revision of a dissertation into a publishable book; the James R. Scobie Awards to support travel for dissertation research; the Lydia Cabrera Award, for Cuban history up to 1898; the Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize for the best book on Latin American ethnohistory; the Warren Dean Award for Brazilian history; the Elinor Melville Award for the best book in environmental history; the María Elena Martínez Prize for the best work on Mexican history; Paul Vanderwood Award for the best article published in a journal other than Hispanic American Historical Review; the Antonine Tibesar Award for the best article published in The Americas . [12]

Chairs and presidents


Distinguished Service Award

Herbert Eugene Bolton-John J. Johnson Prize – Best Book in English

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  1. Howard F. Cline, “The Conference: A Fecund Decade, 1954-1964”. Hispanic American Historical Review 45:434-438 (August 1965).
  2. ”Historical Notes”,
  3. John Tate Lanning, "The Hispanist in the American Historical Association" in Latin American History: Essays on Its Study and Teaching, 1898-1965, compiled and edited by Howard F. Cline.2 vols. Austin: University of Texas Press 1967, vol. 2, pp. 641–42.
  5. "Report of a Committee of the Pan American Union on the Teaching of Latin-American History in Colleges, Normal Schools, and Universities of the United States." Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 7 No. 3 (Aug. 1927), pp. 352–385.
  6. "Report of the Committee on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary" by Donald E. Worcester, John P. Harrison, Bernard E. Bobb. Mimeographed report. Conference on Latin American History Archives, Hispanic Foundation, Library of Congress (Dec. 1953) published in Latin American History: Essays on Its Study and Teaching, 1898-1965. vol. 2, p. 462.
  7. Howard F. Cline, “The Conference: A Fecund Decade, 1954-1964” Hispanic American Historical Review 45: 434-438 (Aug. 1965).
  8. Howard F. Cline, "The Ford Foundation Grant Program of the Conference: A Special Report" in Latin American History: Essays on Its Study and Teaching, 1898-1965, pp. 653–655. Originally published in the CLAH Newsletter, Jan. 1965.
  9. accessed 11 June 2018.