ACH Newsletter, Winter 2016

President’s Letter

Dear ACH friends and colleagues,

A year ago, I wrote to our members as part of my presidential platform that “there is a stark need for ACH to step forward to take a proactive role in advocating for a diverse future that is built around the values of our membership.” I itemized three areas that I hoped my two years as ACH president might address: 1) developing a set of guidelines for the evaluation of digital humanities scholarship; 2) conducting an open discussion about whether ACH should continue to be a global digital humanities organization or whether we should limit our engagement to a particular set of geographical boundaries?  and 3) seeking a deeper understanding of how to diversify our conferences and larger organizational structures.

I’m so pleased to report that the Executive Committee has made concrete progress on all three of these issues. At our general membership meeting in Kraków, Poland, the Executive Committee opened the ACH Guidelines for Assessment of Digital Scholarship in Tenure and Promotion for comment by members. Begun under the leadership of Johanna Drucker with the assistance of Glen Worthey, our former president, Stéfan Sinclair, and others, these guidelines serve as an important resource for members to use to advocate for themselves. They can assist in guiding employers in recognizing the work our membership is doing in a variety of academic and public contexts. Thank you to those of you who submitted feedback. We hope the final version that you are being asked to endorse in the current election materials reflect all the hard work this document represents.

We’ve also made strides in answering the question I hear most frequently from new members: Is ACH a US-based digital humanities organization or is it a global organization? Our Executive Committee confidently answers that “The Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) is a major professional and scholarly society focused on the digital humanities throughout the United States. While based in the U.S., ACH is open to all, regardless of geographic location, as non-U.S. members have important perspectives to offer to American digital humanities practitioners.” More simply, while most of our business takes place in the US, we are interested in members from throughout the world contributing to our organizational goals.

It is our hope that our 2017 membership drive sees tremendous success in outreach to new members of diverse backgrounds and far-flung locales. Importantly, note that we’ve got a great $26.00 rate for student members. Please make sure to ask your colleagues whether they are members of ACH and if they aren’t, encourage them to join us.

I wrote in my candidate statement that “repeatedly, our membership has expressed their frustration with the seeming lack of diversity in approaches, methods, and presenters [of the annual conference]…How might our activities better represent not just who we are now but the diverse future we hope to embody? Are there systemic issues that we should address to present not just linguistic diversity but diversity in its many manifestations?” Again, this summer, we heard these clarion calls in social media back-channels and via private correspondence to Executive Committee members.

I want to assure you that the Executive Committee hears these concerns  and recognizes the importance of ACH representing its core values without compromise:  inclusive, diverse, and accessible across the humanities disciplines as well as our own backgrounds. You’ll be pleased to see a revised statement of ACH identity in the current election materials for your endorsement that builds upon the brief statement quoted above. It not only clarifies our aims but also serves as a reminder that all our core activities (advocacy, professional development, grants & awards, and publications) should continually strive to be inclusive, diverse, and accessible.

A number of pivotal issues have confronted our organization in the last year or so in the form of discussions about our identity, our values, and our role as a professional organization. These conversations have only been heightened for us in these last few months following not only the US Presidential election but also episodes of hateful speech, harassment, and acts of violence against members of historically vulnerable communities. These attacks have occurred not just in physical environments on campuses and in Ferguson, Missouri and Cannon Ball, North Dakota, but also through social media and other digital platforms. As our organization is devoted to the exploration of intersectionality and critical exploration of technology and the humanities, it was important for ACH to address the membership at this fraught time in our collective history.

I encourage you, if you have not already, to review the Statement on the Aftermath of the 2016 Election published on the ACH website and included below. It provides a number of commitments from ACH to our membership. It signals our continuing history as an organization committed to critical thinking, professional development, and diverse, inclusive, and accessible communities. And, significantly, in the coming months you’ll receive information on specific initiatives and opportunities that will back up our words with directed action. We also welcome input from members to guide us as we move these initiatives forward.

We should also be proud of other accomplishments this year and soon to come that share these aims:

●      Led by Diane Jakacki, program chair of the 2017 annual conference, the pool of potential reviewers has been dramatically increased both in sheer quantity but also in variety of representational knowledge and diverse backgrounds. Johanna Drucker and Jeremy Boggs are working as our ACH representatives on the Program Committee. If you have a moment to thank them for their service, please do so.

  • Since July, the membership committee has secured purchasing discounts for ACH members with leading digital humanities presses to ensure that our members have access to recent scholarship at affordable rates.
  • The awards committee has distributed another year’s worth of funding to our microgrant winners. They have been working on evaluating the current guidelines to ensure a smooth application process and clear evaluation criteria.
  • Members of the communications committee are working to revamp our strategies for communicating with our members. They studied our existing social media platforms and have drafted recommendations to take our content to where our membership is virtually. In the coming months, you’ll see refreshed website content as well the growth of the DH slack channel.
  • Vika Zafrin, our invaluable secretary, supported by Glen Worthey, has completed documents associated with the revision to the election cycle so that it coincides with the calendar year. This will allow our members to more easily track and renew their membership. Vika also been behind the scenes ensuring that our internal documentation is up to par for future generations of ACHers interested in writing our own history.
  • As part of our internal refresh, Brian Croxall led the establishment of an ACH Conflict of Interest policy. All Executive Committee members now complete an annual accounting of any conflicts they might have so as to ensure a transparent operation of the association.
  • Tanya Clement, working in conjunction with former treasurer Jarom McDonald, is updating our accounting procedures to ensure ACH is compliant with all applicable financial laws. And, in conjunction with our committee chairs, she’s ensuring that our activities as an organization have sufficient financial resources. This year, the Executive Committee approved providing supplemental funding to Digital Humanities Quarterly to assist the journal in its duties in addition to our annual contribution to the DHQ operating budget.

These are just a few of the ongoing activities we’re completing or are currently working on. As we head into 2017, I thank you for your continued investment in ACH. Your efforts, voices, and brilliant minds are transformative for the academy, the public, and our future.

Best wishes,

ACH Statement in the Aftermath of the 2016 Election

The results of the recent presidential election in the United States have been accompanied by a troubling increase in cases of hateful speech, harassment, and acts of violence against members of historically vulnerable communities.

The Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH), a scholarly organization for digital humanists based in the United States, condemns in the strongest possible terms state and federal proposals that would exacerbate this trend by targeting ethnic and religious groups, people of color, LGBTQIA communities, and others in ways that are antithetical to the principles of diversity, inclusion, access, liberty, free expression, and equal rights. The implementation of inhumane and divisive conditions for immigration, such as border walls; the elimination of healthcare and civil protections for LGBTQIA, the poor, and other underrepresented groups; and the exercise of political persecution, hate speech and/or curtailments of freedom of the press and the academy all contravene these principles and are worryingly reminiscent of policies from past fascist regimes. ACH opposes the resurgence of oppressive practices, the potential rollback of civil liberties, and all acts of hate against U.S. citizens, immigrants, or citizens of other nations.

ACH hereby advocates for a peaceful, caring, and non-violent resistance to discrimination and injustice and pledges to:

  • support our academic colleagues who may be at risk;
  • reaffirm the recognition that intellectual, cultural, institutional, and other forms of diversity make a vital contribution to scholarship, practice, and our daily lives;
  • commit our work towards a humanistic understanding of the impact technology is having in shaping and spreading fascist values, and support the creation of alternative and resistant infrastructures and platforms to promote communities of humanities scholars that are based on mutual respect for diversity and civil rights;
  • advocate for the importance of academic freedom and the creation and preservation of archives against cuts to funding, access, classification, and erasure; and
  • promote social change and contribute to a more socially and publicly engaged academia by dedicating awards funding to work in digital humanities that explicitly addresses current socio-political issues.

To accomplish this, we welcome ideas and points of action, especially as they may facilitate initiatives to protect our constituents against discrimination in all its forms, whether racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, misogyny, or ableism. To our members in a position to do so, we further ask you to join in this effort and to help us reach out and support ACH colleagues. Finally, we encourage ACH members to contact any member of the Executive Council to ask for assistance as we move forward.

Microgrants Awarded 2016

We’re pleased to report that the proposals were very strong and we are able to support three excellent projects with microgrants. The winners are:

  • Nicole Keller Day and Elizabeth Polcha of Northeastern University for A Feminist Digital Commons. The microgrant is funding server hosting and hack-a-thons to create a digital feminist commons.
  • Alicia Peaker of Bryn Mawr College for Digital Exhibitions: An Open Source Scalar Template.  The microgrant is funding travel costs for a Scalar consultant to visit Bryn Mawr and work with the recipient to develop a new Scalar template for digital exhibitions.
  • Christina Boyles and Andrew Petersen of the University of Iowa for Makers by Mail. The microgrant is funding supplies for Boyles and Petersen’s makerspace-by-mail kits.

New Conflict of Interest Policy

At the annual ACH Executive Council meeting in Kraków during the Digital Humanities 2016 conference, the Council discussed a possible conflict of interest policy. The discussion was not motivated by any particular incident but instead by the desire to make explicit the expectations and behaviors that the Officers and members of the Council already believed in. The Council also desired to bring the ACH into line with similar scholarly organizations that had similar policies in place.

Following the meeting, members of the Council drafted a policy, based in part on a similar document shared by the Modern Language Association (MLA). The full ACH Executive Council adopted the policy on 25 September 2016. Each Officer and member of the Council has completed a Conflict of Interest Statement and will continue to do so on an annual basis.

You can read the full policy on our announcements page.

ACH Member Benefits: Publisher Discounts

In connection with the annual DH conference, we began approaching university presses to provide discounts for their catalogs. We are now working to partner with presses to offer discounts without expiration dates. To receive discounts, ACH members must order books through the individual Press websites.

This is just one of the many benefits we offer to ACH members! Please encourage your colleagues to visit our membership page and join our organization.

ACH Membership

Encourage colleagues to Join ACH! We’ve recently revamped our membership page to make it easier than ever to join ACH — just visit our new membership page and click on your preferred membership type. Student memberships are just US $26, and like other membership levels, help fund student bursaries, open-access journal publication, mentoring services, development micro-grants, and other important DH initiatives. Please encourage DH practitioners in your community to join!

What’s new on Digital Humanities Questions & Answers?

DH Q&A is crowd-sourced digital humanities expertise! It’s a community-driven forum for questions pertaining to the digital humanities that may need a bit more than 140 character answers. If you have questions (or answers!) consider joining the conversation!

The ACH is also considering officially supporting the Digital Humanities Slack channel created by members of our community. Please let us know what you think if you decide to join by writing to

Keep in touch

Keep in touch with the ACH online: TwitterFacebook, or As always, the Humanist mailing list features job posts, calls for papers and discussion of a range of issues in the digital humanities. If you would like to send us a private message you can always write to

By Mia R

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