A Message from our President:
The Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of SHD Amid Unprecedented Circumstances
2020 is an important year for the history of SHD. We were founded exactly 60 years ago as an international, United States-based organization aiming to stimulate interest in teaching, researching, and publishing the history of geographical exploration. The idea of founding a society appeared in the summer of 1960 when Thomas (Thom) Goldstein, a professor at the City College of New York, attended a conference in Lisbon honoring the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry the Navigator. On that occasion he met John (Jack) Parker, the then curator of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, and Vsevolod (Steve) Slessarev, assistant curator of the same library, and they began an informal conversation about what it would be like to start a society that would focus on discoveries. On Thom’s invitation in December 29, 1960, altogether eight interested people met at a lunch in New York City, and they made a decision to form a new organization whose focal point would be exploration. They called it the Society of the History of Discoveries. That is how SHD started. Since then, SHD continued to grow into a prominent organization that held 59 annual meetings and counts about three hundred members.
Yet, as much as SHD has a lot of good reasons for celebrating, we are faced with making unprecedented decisions. The global threat of pandemic that put so many limitations on our lives has forced us to accept new ways of doing our jobs, of communicating with our colleagues as well as our loved ones. The current situation teaches us humbleness and patience. In this process, we have learned to overcome many obstacles, and we have also realized that we can do more than we thought we could. Mindful of your safety and health, we have decided to turn our regular live annual meeting, scheduled to be held in New Orleans on November 13-15, 2020, into an online event that will be held on the same days as the originally planned conference. It was in no way an easy decision. We waited as long as we could, hoping for a positive epidemiological situation that would allow the conference to be held safely. Unfortunately, the developments during late June and July have not gone in our favor.
Despite the transition to an online conference model, we will make special effort to get the best outcome that will be innovative, but also user-friendly and accessible to all our members. We will keep all the usual content and try to add some new one. The good side of the online event is that, with mandatory registration, attendance will be free of charge. Unfortunately, the social aspect of the meeting will not be the same as in our traditional live meetings. Yet, the online event will enable us to stay in contact and share scholarship with colleagues and friends in a safe way. The conference will be held via the Zoom application. All registered participants will receive a meeting invitation in the form of an email containing the link, ID, and password of the meeting a few days before the conference. We will also prepare detailed instructions for those less experienced in the participation in online events. I trust that for this year you will embrace this online model. I sincerely hope to see you in person next year when we will catch up and celebrate together.