Timeline – 1968 – History Graduate Students Organize

In an era of widespread political activism, which included formation of the TAA in 1966 and the Black Students’ Strike in 1969, History grad students organized the History Students Association. The HSA articulated a broad-ranging critique of the UW and of the History Department in this 1968 pamphlet (pdf). The fate of the HSA is not known.

UW History Graduate Student Association brochure, 1968
UW History Graduate Student Association brochure, 1968

In the late 1970s, a new organization, the History Graduate Student Association, was formed, following a meeting of some 100 History grad students with two History faculty members. Department Chair Stanley Payne summed up the times in which it was formed:“… the historical profession reached its all time peak during the years 1965-1970, only to fall into rapid and pronounced recession during the early and mid-1970s. Jobs for new Ph.D.s seemed to disappear altogether, undergraduate enrollment fell off in some cases by 50 percent or more, the graduate program shrank drastically; and research funds and other kinds of support for the faculty were severely diminished.”

The new association resolved to address an array of issues from the job market to curricular matters to procedures for selecting teaching assistants.

Sources: History Students Association, University of Wisconsin: Critique and Program, History, Series 7/16 Department File, UW Archives; History Newsletter, UW-Madison, 1980 (pdf) (vol. 9 no.1), 1, 8-9.