April 6, 2020
Urban History Association members and friends:
I am so sorry to intrude on what is already a stressful time of online teaching, staying inside, and making sure we all stay healthy. I write because I have an important update to share:
As a result of the uncertainly resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Urban History Association has decided to postpone by one year our biennial conference previously scheduled for October 2020. After subsequent discussions with our host hotel in Detroit, we can now confirm the following: the conference will take place October 21-24, 2021 instead of this coming fall. Our intention is to move forward with essentially the same panels and people – or at least with all those willing and able to attend a year later. The Program Committee has completed its work reviewing panel/paper proposals and expects to send out notifications later this week; we hope accepted participants can still join us a year later than anticipated.
In order to make this decision to delay the conference by one year, we were cognizant that a conversation would first have to take place with the Society for American and Regional Planning History (SACRPH). SACRPH’s biannual conference typically occurs in the fall of odd-numbered years and complements the UHA’s biennial conference in the fall of even-numbered years. It would be impractical and unwise for both organizations to hold separate conferences within a few weeks of each other or to merge the two conferences. Fortunately, SACRPH’s executive team was understanding of the UHA’s situation and willing to change its plans. Therefore, in addition to the UHA biennial conference moving to 2021, SACRPH will also move its next planned biennial conference to 2022. (No decisions have been made yet about the sequencing and scheduling of UHA and SACRPH conferences beyond 2022.)
The difficult decision to postpone our conference was made by the UHA’s Executive Committee and the chairs of the Program Committee and Local Arrangements Committee of the Detroit conference. We felt collectively that the unknown futures of the coronavirus and the duration of necessary social distancing measures make it impossible to go forward with the conference this year. Even in the best-case scenarios, we worry about the havoc that might have been created in people’s lives. We also worry about the state of institutional travel budgets next academic year, as well as individuals’ personal finances.
Thanks so much for bearing with us during this uncertain time. I hope that this message finds you all safe and sound and that we will all be outside again soon.
Dr. Heather Ann Thompson
President, Urban History Association
Collegiate Professor of History and African American Studies
The University of Michigan
Featured image: “Boy crying,” 1920. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.