I’ve written at some length about the suicide of academic history (which I’m going to expand and turn into a longer journal article eventually), but for now take in the latest grim statistics from the latest issue of the Middle West Review, where editor-in-chief John Lauck fills in some of the numbers in “The Ongoing History Crisis“:
Around the Midwest, the news from history departments is grim, even at larger institutions. Iowa State University’s history department has been told by the ISU administration that its faculty needs to shrink from 20 to 8. The ISU doctoral program in rural history, a key contributor to Midwestern studies, is also being shuttered. The University of Iowa’s full time history faculty has declined from 26 to 16 in about ten years. University of Missouri: 30 down to 21 (over the past decade); University of Kansas: 35 down to 24 (since 2017); The Ohio State University (system): 79 down to 62 (since 2008); University of Minnesota: 46 down to 40 (in ten years); University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: 46 down to 36 (since 2012); University ofIllinois Chicago: 32 down to 20 (from 2005–2020). Smaller universities are also seeing the loss of history faculty: Emporia State University: 7 down to 4 (over a decade); University of North Dakota: 10 down to 5 (in five years); Grand Valley State University: 31 down to 27 (in ten years); University of South Dakota: 10 down to 7 (in five years); South Dakota State University: 7 down to 4 (in five years); University of Nebraska-Omaha: 15 down to 11 (in ten years); St. Cloud State University: 10 down to 6 (in 6 years); St. Olaf College: 12 down to 7 (in ten years); Central Michigan University: 22 down to 15 (in seven years); Miami University of Ohio: 29 down to 22 (since 2015); Ohio University: 31 down to 25 (since 2017); University of Cincinnati: 30 down to 21 (in ten years); Kent State University: 15 down to 12 (since 2008); University of Missouri-Kansas City: 17 down to 8 (in 6 years); Minnesota State University, Mankato: 11 down to 9 (since 2010); University of Missouri-St. Louis: 14 down to 8 (since 2016); Truman State University: 15 down to 4 (since 2013); Indiana State University: 16 down to 13 (since 2015); Marquette University: 21 down to 16 (since 2017); University of Toledo: 12 down to 5 (in a decade). The cuts extend beyond faculty. Central Michigan University lost the Michigan Historical Review, a journal it oversaw for decades. Truman State lost Truman State University Press, which closed in 2021. Emporia State lost its Center for Great Plains Studies. The journal Studies in Midwestern History at Grand Valley State fizzled out. Long-running collaborative history conferences such as the Missouri Valley History Conference and the Mid-America Conference on History have also been terminated.
Most of the veteran historians who have been cut or downsized are not finding jobs at other institutions because there are none, as newly-minted historians know very well. Between 2019 and 2020 1,799 historians earned their PhDs and only 175 of them are now employed as full-time faculty members. In recent years the number of job listings in history has dropped to the lowest number since the American Historical Association started keeping records.
Why is this happening? Lauck dares to hint at the reasons:
Despite all the bad news from the academic world of history, the public support for studying history, it seems, is still strong. Many Americans want their children to know history and to use it to inform and energize civic life. They do not want history twisted for ideological ends, but instead tapped as a source of knowledge and a method of thinking through evidence and reaching balanced conclusions. This public support should be leveraged to stop the collapse of the profession of history and to rebuild it as a vibrant field. [Emphasis added.]
You can expect Lauck to be hounded and cancelled in three, two. . .