Bylaws of the Society for History in the Federal Government
(Revised and approved by the Society membership May 16, 2017)
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the Society is to encourage, promote, and foster historical, archival, curatorial, and other related activities of and about the United States Government. The Society accomplishes its purpose by:
• addressing the professional needs of not only its members but the larger community of professionals dealing with federal history;
• supporting the agencies and offices that employ those professionals and encouraging other agencies and offices to establish historical offices and/or undertake historical, archival, and other related efforts in a professional manner;
• fostering a stronger relationship between those engaged in federal history and the larger professional community, broadly defined to include academe, museums and historical organizations, archives and libraries, independent scholars, and related agencies, including involvement of both the Society and its members in other professional associations and attention by the latter to the needs and concerns of federal historians, archivists, and other professionals;
• fostering better public understanding of the vital role that history plays in the work of the federal government; and
• taking other actions deemed by the Society to be supportive of its purposes.
The Society shall have five classes of members, determined by the amount of dues paid: regular, institutional, retired, student, and patron (hereinafter referred to collectively as “members”). Members of the Society shall have the right to conduct the business of the Society and the right to serve as officers in the Society. The qualifications for membership shall be support of the aims of the Society and payment of the requisite level of dues.
Dues for all classes of membership shall be established by the Executive Council. The membership year of the Society runs from January 1 through December 31. Membership dues for the year are due and payable on January1, and members must remit their payments by March 1 to avoid forfeiture of membership.
Within the group of members is a set of charter members. A charter member is any individual who contributed the sum of ten dollars to the Society by May 1, 1980.
Honorary members of the Society shall be elected by majority vote of the Executive Council. They may be nominated by any regular member of the Council or by a petition signed by at least twenty-five members of the Society. Honorary membership will generally run indefinitely, but it may be revoked at any time by a two-thirds vote of the Executive Council.
II. Officers, Executive Council, and Committees
Any member of the Society may serve as an officer, in an administrative staff position, or as a member of a committee. Termination of membership shall automatically result in loss of office.
The Society shall have the following officers: a President, a Vice President, a Past President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The Vice President shall be selected by the Nominating Committee and upon ratification by the membership in a regular election of other officers, serve a one-year term, after which he or she shall succeed to the Presidency for a one-year term. Subsequently, the President shall serve as Past President for a one-year term. The Secretary and Treasurer shall be elected for two-year, staggered terms, with one being elected each year. Both are voting members of the Executive Council. Both the Secretary and the Treasurer may serve consecutive terms; the terms of the President, Vice President, and Past President are non-renewable.
The Executive Council is the governing body of the Society. The Council shall consist of all officers of the Society ex officio and six members of the Society who hold no other elective office. The latter six members shall be elected by the Society for two-year terms, with three new members elected each year.
Newly elected officers will assume office as of June 1.
In the event of death or resignation of any elected officer or elected member of an administrative committee, the Executive Council may elect, by majority vote, a replacement to serve until the next annual election. Any appointed officer may be removed from office by a vote of six members of the Executive Council and a subsequent, concurring vote of at least fifty percent of all regular members in good standing.
The Society shall have the following standing administrative committees: a Finance Committee, Nominating Committee, Membership Committee, Program Committee, Awards Committee, and a Publications Committee. The Society may have administrative staff appointed by the executive council by a majority vote, including an executive director, an editor, a webmaster, a membership coordinator, and an archivist/historian, among others, as the executive council may deem appropriate.
The Finance Committee shall consist of the Treasurer, one member of the Executive Council, and one member in good standing from the Society’s general membership. The latter two members shall be appointed by the President with majority approval of the Executive Council for two-year terms.
The Nominating Committee shall consist of four regular members of the Society who hold no other elective office and one member of the Executive Council who is not a member ex officio. The regular members shall be elected by the Society for two-year terms, with two new members elected each year. The Executive Council member shall be nominated by the President and elected by a majority vote of the Executive Council for a one-year term. The chairperson of the Nominating Committee shall be selected each year by the committee itself, from among the two regular members serving their second year on the committee.
The Membership Committee shall be organized and chaired by the Secretary and include two regular members of the Society who hold no other elective office.
The Program Committee shall be organized and chaired by the Past President and shall include the Vice President and either a regular member of the Society who holds no other elective office or a member of the Executive Council.
The Awards Committee shall be organized and chaired by the awards coordinator and shall include two members of the Executive Council.
The Publications Committee shall be organized and chaired by the Society’s publications coordinator and consist of the editors of the Society’s various publications including the journal, the newsletter, the Web site, and the e-bulletin.
III. Powers and Duties of Officers, Executive Council, Administrative Staff, and Administrative Committees
Powers and Duties of Officers and Executive Council
All officers, Executive Council, administrative staff, and members of administrative committees shall serve without compensation. Special full- or part-time positions may be established by a two-thirds vote of the Executive Council for specific functions. These shall be term positions, re-evaluated and renewable annually.
The President shall supervise the work of the Society, formulate policies for presentation to the Executive Council and members, and execute decisions as necessary. The President shall convene a general business meeting at least annually and an Executive Council meeting at least quarterly. The President shall chair these meetings. The President shall sign all documents issued in the name of the whole Society and either serve as the principal representative of the Society to other organizations or designate another member or members of the Society to perform these functions. Together with the Treasurer, the President shall represent the Society in all financial matters. With the approval of a majority of the Executive Council, the President may create or dissolve action committees of the Society and appoint or remove chairpersons of them. The President shall execute such other duties as may be assigned by the Executive Council.
The Vice President may, in the absence of the President, preside at general business meetings of the Society or the Executive Council and take official actions. The Vice President shall execute such other duties as may be assigned by the President and the Executive Council. The Vice President will work with the Past President in planning and organizing the Society’s annual conference and any special events.
The Past President shall preside over the Program Committee, including the work of planning and organizing the Society’s annual conference and any special events. The Past President will also serve as an advisor to the Council and Society officers, may represent the Society on outside boards and committees, will assume such duties as prescribed by the President, and possess a vote on the Executive Council.
Under the direction of the Executive Council, the Secretary shall conduct the day-to-day administrative business of the Society including such matters as maintaining current operational records, databases, mailing lists, and such other administrative responsibilities as the President may direct. The Secretary shall have charge of Society correspondence and shall give notice of all meetings to the members. The Secretary shall keep minutes of both general business meetings and Executive Council meetings and shall make such minutes available to the Executive Council at the following council meeting for review and approval. The Secretary shall keep an accurate roll of the members of the Society and a roster of all committees of the Society, their members, and their chairpersons. The Secretary shall maintain the current correspondence and minutes of the Society and transfer them regularly to the Society Archivist/Historian. The Secretary shall execute such other duties as may be assigned by the Executive Council.
The Treasurer shall collect dues and other payments received by the Society, deposit the funds of the Society, make authorized disbursements, maintain correct financial records of all Society assets, liabilities, and transactions, and ensure that all appropriate tax and financial forms are filed. With the assistance of the Finance Committee, the Treasurer shall prepare an annual budget no later than April 1. This budget must be approved by a majority vote of the Executive Council at its first meeting subsequent to June 1 when newly elected Society officers assume office, and then shall be available to all members for review. For budgetary purposes the fiscal year of the Society shall run from July 1 through June 30. The Treasurer is authorized to approve payment of any expense consistent with and included in the approved budget. Any extraordinary expense (defined as being greater than $250 for any single item or service) must be reviewed by the Executive Council and approved by a majority vote of its members before being incurred. Neither the Treasurer nor any other officer or member of the Society shall be personally liable either jointly or severally for any costs or obligations which accrue in any action by or against the Society. The Treasurer shall execute such other duties as may be assigned by the Executive Council. The Treasurer and the Finance Committee shall advise on investment strategies and supervise and govern the Society’s investment funds, and other specially designated funds, according to the Council’s vote. Special funds include such dedicated accounts as the Trask Fund account or other specially designated funds. The President and the Vice President shall join the Treasurer as signatories on all bank accounts to ensure accessibility to funds, although the Treasurer will be the primary banking officer.
The Executive Council shall manage the business, the assets, and the activities of the Society. It shall set dues for the several classes of members. It shall review the work of all officers and committees, determine all policies, and approve the budget and any extraordinary expenditures of the Society. The Council shall be responsible to the members of the Society and present to them such actions or resolutions that, in its judgment, require general Society approval. Approval requires a majority vote of the members present and voting at a general business meeting. The Council shall be convened by the President at least quarterly and may be convened at other times either at his or her request or at the request of any three Council members. The President shall provide in writing an agenda at least one week prior to a scheduled Council meeting. A quorum of the Council shall consist of six members and must include either the President or Vice–President. Four consecutive unexcused absences by any member of the Executive Council shall lead to loss of office. The Executive Council, by majority vote, shall determine which absences are excused, and if deemed necessary, appoint an interim council member. The Council may meet by conference telephone call, provided that any decision reached shall be confirmed in written correspondence that is signed and delivered to the Secretary.
Duties of Standing Administrative Committees and Other Society Officials
The Finance Committee shall advise and assist the Treasurer in preparing an annual budget and treasurer’s reports, as well as advise on investment strategies for Society funds. The Committee shall have the accounts of the Society audited at the discretion of the Executive Council.
The Nominating Committee shall select candidates for elective office. It shall also tabulate and certify results of elections and have them promulgated to the Society. That committee shall by February 1 of each year nominate at least one candidate for each office to be filled and shall secure the approval of all nominees before nominating them. The Committee shall inform the Society’s members of those nominations. All names will appear on the ballot for ratification by the membership. In addition to these nominations, the ballot shall contain the names of candidates for any office who have been nominated by petition. A petition must be signed by at least twenty-five members of the Society, with the written approval of the proposed candidate, and must be transmitted to the Nominating Committee by March 15. Ballots will be prepared by the Nominating Committee and mailed or e-mailed to all members of the Society at least four weeks before the date of the elections, May 1 of each year. They must be returned to the chairperson of the nominating committee by the date of the election in order to be counted. Elections will be decided by a plurality of votes cast. Should there be a tie, the decision will be rendered by a majority of the elected members of the Executive Council. In the event that the council vote is indecisive, the President shall select the winning candidate.
The Membership Committee shall maintain records of the dues status of each member and the current membership count, and send that database to the printer or other designated representative for mailing purposes when requested. The Membership Committee will notify and recruit lapsed members and suggest new recruitment strategies.
The Program Committee shall plan and make arrangements for the annual meeting and, as necessary, other events. The Executive Council shall approve any major decisions and expenditures for the annual meeting or other membership events.
The Awards Committee shall recommend to the Executive Council a set of awards to be given by the Society. The Awards Committee shall, on an annual basis, recommend to the Executive Council recipients of awards. The Awards Committee shall make all arrangements for award-giving, including the preparation of citations for award winners. The Executive Council, by majority vote, shall make all final decisions related to the establishment and granting of awards.
As a centerpiece of the annual meeting, the Roger R. Trask Award shall be given annually to a person whose career and achievements reflect a commitment to, and an understanding of, the unique importance of federal history work and the Society’s mission. A special Trask Award Committee shall consist of the Society’s Vice President, a member of the Executive Council, and a member in good standing from the Society’s general membership. The committee shall solicit nominees, identify a recipient, and report its recommendation to the Executive Council for approval no later than two months prior to the annual meeting.
The Publications Committee shall plan and manage all Society publications with the advice and consent of the Executive Council. Under the direction of the President and Executive Council, the chair of the Publications Committee oversees the general operation of the various publications, including brochures, The Federalist newsletter, Federal History journal, and the e-bulletin, maintaining close communication with the editors of those publications. Under the direction of the President, the Executive Council shall select an editor and compiler for the e-Bulletin to distribute news to members once a month, or otherwise as decided by the Council. The editors of the various publications carry out all activities associated with the development, editing, printing, and publication of their respective publications.
Under the direction of the President and Executive Council, the Webmaster carries out all duties associated with maintaining and updating the web site, including timely advertisement therein of key Society events, maintenance of the online payment system, and service as the general content editor.
Under the direction of the President, the Archivist/Historian shall maintain the noncurrent records of the Society and make records available to Members upon request, and perform other duties as assigned by the Executive Council. Upon expiration of his or her term, the President shall deliver the accumulated permanent records of the office to the Archivist/Historian.
Other administrative committees or positions may be formed by a majority vote of the Executive Council.
IV. Powers and Duties of Action Committees
The Executive Council shall delegate to action committees the authority to study, to take action in accord with established policies, or to recommend action to the Executive Council on subjects of interest to the Society. Such committees may be created or dissolved by the President with approval of a majority of the Executive Council.
Any member of the Society may serve on any action committee. The chairperson of each committee shall be chosen and may be removed by the President with the approval of a majority of the Executive Council. Committees, by majority vote, may recommend candidates for or request a change of the chair. Committee chairpersons shall serve for an annual term from July 1 through June 30.
Conduct of committee business shall be regulated by committee chairpersons, and committees may be divided into as many subcommittees as are deemed appropriate. Committees shall submit a written report on their activities to the annual meeting of the Society and, when appropriate, to meetings of the Executive Council. Committee chairpersons shall ensure that notices of their meetings and records of their activities are delivered to the Secretary in a timely manner either for dissemination to the Society or for permanent preservation.
V. General Meetings
Once a year, the President shall convene an annual conference open to all members of the Society. The date of this conference shall be announced in writing by the President to the membership at least four months prior to its occurrence. During this conference, a general business meeting of members shall be convened. It shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, and as the first act of business, the President shall present a written agenda. Appropriate officials shall report to the membership on activities of the officers, standing administrative committees, and action committees. Resolutions, policies, or actions requiring general Society approval shall be presented and decided by majority vote of those present and voting.
VI. Amendments to Bylaws
Amendments to the Bylaws may be proposed by majority vote of the elected members of the Executive Council or by a petition signed by at least twenty-five regular members of the Society. Once proposed, amendments must first be approved by a general business meeting of the Society and then by a concurring majority vote of the members participating in a mail or electronic ballot.