2014 AGM minutes

Minutes of the 62nd Annual General Meeting of the British Agricultural History society held at Denman College, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire at 4pm on Monday 7th April 2014

The meeting began at 4pm
Present: There were 24 members of the Society present. The Chair was taken by Prof Jane Whittle. Officers of the Society present were Dr N J Verdon (Secretary), Prof R W Hoyle (Editor, Agricultural History Review) and Dr H French (Book Review Editor). Apologies were received from Dr H Crowe (Treasurer), Dr Margaret Yates, Brian Short and Alan Hunter.
566 Minutes of the 61st meeting were approved as an accurate record of the meeting subject to minor amendment.
567 Matters arising from the minutes:
568 Elections of Officers of the Executive committee
The following were nominated and elected unopposed:
Treasurer: Dr Hilary Crowe
Secretary: Dr Nicola Verdon
Editor: Prof Richard Hoyle
Book Review Editor: Prof Henry French
Prof Mark Overton remains as President, having served one year of his three year term.

569 Election of Ordinary members of the Executive committee
Unusually there are no seats free on the EC this year.

570 Report by Chairman of the Executive Committee
The Chair reported that it had been a busy year for the Society, driven by the pressures for Open Access and by discussion of how the Society can maintain its membership, and ensure it remains good value for its members in the current climate. After last year’s AGM several contributions from members of the Society on the future direction of the Society were sent to the Chair, and have been discussed by the Officers/EC:
 A 2-tier membership: This was discussed and it was decided a single membership would be most appropriate.
Local conferences: We will introduce an annual competition (with two deadlines) to fund conferences/workshops/initiatives related to agricultural and rural history, and provide grants of up to £500 for a successful application. This will formalise what has been done on an ad-hoc basis in the past. Details of the conference and initiatives fund will be posted on the website.
New leaflet: This was in preparation and after its finalisation there will be a new publicity/membership drive.
Social media: The Society now has a Facebook page and twitter site. In the next year we will also be starting a blog, and anyone interested in writing for this was asked to contact the Chair.
As well as these, the Society has also agreed to proceed with a number of other initiatives:
Work-in-progress: This was last compiled in 2007 and a new list will be made in the coming year. Details will be sent with RHT and will be posted on the website. We will also be adding a list of PhDs in progress to the website, and a separate list of PhDs recently completed, where authors of these can add a link so the thesis can be uploaded digitally the website. The Society is also going to compile a list of digital resources on agricultural/rural history (and their availability) for the website. This will be the first step to what is hoped will be a wider digitisation project in the future.
The Chair reported that the Society wished to co-opt a member of the post-graduate or post-doctorate community to the EC, and anyone interested in this should contact her.

571 Report from the Treasurer
In her absence the Treasurer sent a report on the finances of the Society, income and expenditure accounts, and a balance sheet. These show that our membership remains relatively stable but we have been losing institutional sales. On the whole the Society remains financially healthy.
The Treasurer was asked to clarify the following items:

  • Why were the Winter Conference charges so much higher in 2013 than the previous year?
  • Have we had any contact from the Charity commission recently? One member reported that the commission was beginning to look more closely at how funds were spent and that other societies have got into trouble for giving their members a higher value product than the subscription rate.

The accounts were formally approved.
The independent examiner Zoe Crumbie was reappointed.

372 Report from the Editors
Vol 61 appeared in the usual 2 parts; which covered 384 pages. It had 13 articles, reviews and annual bib
62 part 1 has 7 papers and also includes an obituary and reminiscences of Joan Thirsk.
The Editor thanked all the referees for their time and knowledge over the last year. He also thanked the Book Reviews Editor and Catherine Glover for copyediting work.
The Editor was asked about the flow of submission to the Review. He reported that the amount and quality varies year on year, but generally the numbers were satisfactory and many submissions were of a good, publishable quality.
373 Any other business
The Review Editor and Book Reviews Editor were thanked by the Chair for all his hard work during the year.
Susanna Wade Martins was thanked for her continuing work in editing Rural History Today. All members of the Society were encouraged to contribute to this popular and informative publication.
Catherine Glover, the website manager, was thanked for all her work.
The Secretary was thanked for the organisation of the conference.

The Chair reported that this year had sadly seen the passing of a number of eminent scholars of agrarian/rural history. Joan Thirsk was a founder member of the Society and one of the leading historians of the 20th century. There had been a memorial meeting in January, and the Society was discussing ways other ways we might commemorate her. Richard Britnell was an eminent historian of medieval England, and Margaret Spufford contributed a great deal to the study of early modern rural history.

574 Date of next meeting
Monday 30th March, University of Bangor