Association of Black Women Historians

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Association of Black Women Historians
Association of Black Women Historians.jpg
FormationOctober 1979
FoundersRosalyn Terborg-Penn

Eleanor Smith

Eleanor Parker
TypeProfessional association
HeadquartersSilver Spring, Maryland, United States
Official language
National Director
Ida E. Jones
National Vice Director
Rose Thevenin
Sandy Jowers-Barber
Kenvi Phillips

The Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH) is a non-profit professional association based in Silver Spring, Maryland, in the United States. The organization was developed in 1977 and formally founded in 1979.[1]


The Association of Black Women Historians was conceived in 1977 by three Black women historians: Eleanor Parker, Eleanor Smith, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn.[2] These women were interested in creating an organization that would foster community between black women historians during the late 20th century. The organization's constitution outlines four goals: to establish a network among the membership, to promote Black women in the profession, to disseminate information about opportunities in the field, and to make suggestions regarding research topics and repositories.

Before the organization was officially launched in late 1979 in New York, there were multiple meetings held across the country in Cincinnati, California, and Massachusetts, where the women worked to establish a framework for the organization. The framework consisted of there being a committee with elected officials, whose job was to name the organization as well as produce a newsletter entitled Truth – named after notable black woman abolitionist Sojourner Truth.[2] The first members of the executive committee were Darlene Clark Hine, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Janice Sumler-Lewis, Bettye J. Gardner, Sharon Harley, Cheryl Johnson, Juanita Moore, Sylvia M. Jacobs, Maria A. Brown, and Cynthia Neverdon-Morton.

The organization has held research conferences, annual luncheons committed to sustaining its organizational goals, as well as publishing an anthology to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the organization. The first research conference took place at Howard University in 1983 and was entitled "Women in the African Diaspora: An Interdisciplinary Perspective". The first luncheon was held in 1981, and featured keynote speakers as well as serving as an organizational fundraising opportunity. The featured keynote speakers, who came from an array of disciplines and professional backgrounds, included Nell Irvin Painter, Elizabeth Clarke Lewis, and Mary Frances Berry. In 1992, brief remarks were given by then presidential candidate Bill Clinton.[2]

Presently, the Association of Black Women Historians continues to hold annual their annual luncheon and has published two books: In Spite of the Double Drawbacks: African American Women in History and Culture and The Truth Worth of Race: African American Women and the Struggle for Freedom. Ida E. Jones is the current national director.

In 2012, ABWH published a statement about the film The Help, stating that the film "distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers."[3][4]


The Association of Black Women Historians offers many honors to acknowledge great work women of African descent are doing in the community based around historical issues. They also tend to acknowledge newer people in the history field and not only experts. They have one publication award tilted Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Publication Award[5] They have multiple "Awards for Academics in the History Field."



  1. ^ Terborg-Penn, Rosalynn (2001). "Association of Black Women Historians". In Nina Mjagkij (ed.). Organizing Black America: an encyclopedia of African American associations. New York: Garland Publishing. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-8153-2309-3. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Administrator. "About ABWH". Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  3. ^ Rivas, Jorge. "The Association of Black Women Historians Says 'The Help' is Distorted". Colorlines. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  4. ^ "Association of Black Women Historians: Open Letter to Fans of 'The Help'", New America Media, Commentary, August 18, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Awards". Association of Black Women Historians. 2017-04-04. Retrieved 2018-03-24.