History in the Time of Coronavirus
Update on Omohundro Institute events
The following statement was sent out in the OI e-newsletter on March 25, 2020.
As promised in our March 12 statement (in the e-newsletter) regarding the myriad challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus, we are writing with updates regarding our spring and summer events and programs.
We are making the following changes because of the challenges that the coronavirus is bringing to all of us, and the differential impact of those challenges.
Please get in touch with us directly if you have questions about other events or programs not mentioned here. We look forward to returning to a full and dynamic schedule as soon as possible.
The May 2, 2020, Council Lecture with Christopher L. Brown is canceled. We are working to reschedule Professor Brown’s talk at a later date.
Organized by the OI Director and the Chair of the OI Council, the Council Lecture series reflects the OI’s ongoing commitment to excellence in early American scholarship. It is meant for both scholarly and non-scholarly audiences. All speakers in the series have served on the Omohundro Institute Council (service for which we are enormously grateful).
Council and Executive Board meeting
The annual meeting of the OI’s Council and Board — truly a highlight of our year — will be conducted virtually this year. A detailed meeting schedule will be sent to all Council and Board members in early April.
The OI annual conference in Williamsburg, June 18-20, 2020, is canceled for this year.
We are very excited about the program we have planned, however, for “Material World/Virtual World: The Physical and the Digital in Vast Early America” and want to see the conference come to fruition. With that in mind, we are currently envisioning fully rescheduling for June 2021. We hope that all the scholars scheduled to appear at this year’s conference can join us next year. We will make additional announcements once we have firm dates.
The William and Mary Quarterly — Early Modern Studies Institute (WMQ-EMSI) workshop scheduled for July 10-11, 2020, has been canceled this year.
“Material Culture Studies and Early American History” will convene next year with the same topic, the same convener, and the same list of invited participants. The dates for the workshop will be June 10– 11, 2021.
Scholars’ Workshop & short-term residential fellowships
Although we are not bringing scholars to Williamsburg for either the 2020 Scholars’ Workshop (June 22 – July 2, 2020) or the short-term residential fellowships we co-sponsor with the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, we remain firmly committed to supporting scholars as well as scholarship. We are paying all fellowship recipients as planned.
We are committing to including the scholars chosen for this year’s workshop in a larger than typical workshop for 2021. (The schedule for that workshop is TBD.) Short-term residential fellows are invited to come to Williamsburg if and when they can at a later date.
Statement from Karin Wulf
March 16, 2020
Like all of you, we have been assessing and planning for the challenges of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has now classed as a pandemic, and I wanted to bring you up to date on what this means for the OI. First, all OI events for March and April are canceled. We will not be hosting our regular colloquium series, reading groups, or public lectures and workshops in Williamsburg. Other events we were scheduled to participate in, including this week/end’s Virginia Festival of the Book, the Georgian Papers Programme workshop and lecture next week at King’s College London, and the OAH annual meeting, are canceled.
Second, we will be assessing May and June events, including our annual conference, over the next weeks and will make further announcements by the end of March at the latest. We will continue to be guided in this by William & Mary‘s plans for students and the campus community.
Third, we have been creating a more robust digital infrastructure for OI operations for some time, and thus are in good shape to proceed with business mostly as usual for publications and digital programs. Staff travel is curtailed for March and April as well, so we won’t be able to display books at conferences or other events during this time, Editor of Books Cathy Kelly and her team are working on other, virtual forms of promotion. They are continuing to work on current and prospective / potential projects. William and Mary Quarterly Editor Josh Piker and his team are processing submissions and reader reports and editing articles and book reviews. In short, we’re open for the business of scholarship.
We’re also continuing to work on new digital projects and platforms. Our priority is making sure we can do the work we’ve already committed to but we’ll also be exploring new ways we can serve scholars, scholarship, and the public during this challenging period. Watch for newsletters and our social media channels.
Last and fourth, amidst all this effort to keep the OI humming and serving you, my top priority is keeping our staff healthy, safe, and supported. We are going to be flexible as school and work schedules change and as family members have changing needs. Please be in touch with me directly as you have questions or concerns.
Executive Director, Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture