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The 2012 annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and National Council on Public History (NCPH) takes place beginning today at the Fronti

Historians gather this week in Milwaukee for annual conference

Get ready, Milwaukee. More than 2,000 experts on American history – though not all from the United States – will descend on Brew City this week, April 18-22.

The 2012 annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and National Council on Public History (NCPH) takes place beginning today at the Frontier Airlines Center.

It will draw university professors, K-12 teachers, public historians, museum curators, archivists, journalists and others with an interest and passion for American history.

The Organization of American Historians (OAH), founded in 1907, is the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history.

The National Council on Public History (NCPH), begun in 1980, is a national nonprofit advancing the field of public history, promoting professionalism among history practitioners and encouraging engagement with the public.

"Frontiers of Capitalism and Democracy" is this year's theme and it seems about right considering Wisconsin's rocky political atmosphere over the past year.

"The recent legislation passed by the Wisconsin Legislature limiting collective bargaining for its public employees will serve as a backdrop to talk about labor history in a city which is truly affected by it," said OAH executive director Katherine Finley.

"We can't understand the challenges our nation faces today without knowing the history of how they came to be," Finley said. "By supporting the scholarship of the past, we better our future."

The four-day conference – on-site registration opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday – features more than 150 sessions on historical topics, plus workshops, networking events, an exhibition hall, tours of Milwaukee and more.

Among the visitors are scholars from China, representing the American History Research Association of China. About 100 American history scholars living and working outside the U.S. will attend the event.

The weekend event will feature exhibits by publishers of American history textbooks and other scholarly products, a silent auction and a live broadcast of "BackStory with the American History Guys," a weekly public radio program and podcast that puts current events into historical perspective.

Other sessions will share will the latest research in labor history, military history, diplomatic history, public and environmental history, new media and more.

Many of the events, including "BackStory," are free and open to the public. A list of public sessions is here.

Download a complete conference program, as a PDF, here.


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