The Western History Association is the only national organization devoted to promoting the study of the North American West as both a frontier and a region. The association was founded in 1961 by a small group of historians and history "buffs," and held its first meeting that October in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since then, the organization has met annually in a wide range of western and somewhat eastern cities bringing together a diverse group of western writers, academic historians, public historians and enthusiasts. Since 1961, the WHA has grown dramatically in size and its publications have become the most prestigious in the field.
The annual conference is usually held Wednesday through Saturday in mid-October and features over fifty sessions on all aspects of the American West, as well as tours to nearby historic sites. The location of the conference changes yearly, with recent conferences held in Denver, Lake Tahoe and Oakland. A highlight of the conference is the annual banquet where WHA awards are presented. Conference programs with registration information will be available online and mailed to members in July.
The WHA is governed by its members who elect a president, president-elect, council and nomination committee. The latter consists of five members, each serving a two-year term. the council consists of the president, executive director, seven regularly elected members (serving three year terms) and past presidents and executive directors during the two years succeeding their terms of office. Membership in the organization is open to all.