Review of the Constitution (1997)
[Adapted from Vaughan Archaeological & Historical Society Newsletter No. 5 (Spring 1997)]
The Committee are reviewing the Constitution of the Society and hope to present amendments to the next Annual General Meeting. [...] This article gives a personal view of what could be done in two areas.
The resources of the Society are limited; to use them properly we need to be clear what are the aims of the Society. What do we want to achieve? For instance should we spend money buying a bench for a civic garden or donate the same money to restore an ancient building?
This Society was founded as a student society. It had serious intentions. It was meant to "provide a medium for historical and archaeological research" with its members doing original research in local history. They would work with each other and with "other bodies of like aims and interests". The Committee included a Liaison Officer to the Historical Association. When its became an affiliated society with open membership some of this seriousness fell away.
To revive that original sense of purpose, a statement of the objects of the Society should be included in the Constitution.
The annual Members Evening, when members gave short talks to the Society, was a product of the Historical Research Group. In its early years the Society chose Secretaries for its Historical and Archaeological Research Groups, and a Superintendent of Excavations. The post of Archaeological Secretary was later abolished; the Society simply could not afford to support full-scale excavations of its own. So it is surprising that the power to appoint a Superintendent of Excavations was retained for the Committee (Clause 6). However it has been proposed that this post should also be abolished with the rules for the conduct of excavations (Clause 16).
In the Newsletter for Autumn 1996, Gerry Stacey, Chairman, regretted that fewer knowledgeable members of the Society felt able to speak before it. This situation may have a remedy.
The Committee still has the power to set up a Historical Research Group (Clause 17) and to appoint a Historical Research Group Secretary (Clause 6). These rules have been dead-letters for some time but they might serve a new purpose.
The post of Historical Research Group Secretary could be remade. The new Secretary would have to canvas members, find those who have done original research of their own, and produce an evening each year presenting the work of members of the Society. In the absence of a substantial project it would be better to encourage and collect smaller pieces of work.
The Society needs to decide what serious work to do and the ways of doing it. A Statement of Aims would declare the direction the Society intends to take; preparing and presenting the Members Evening would offer one way to work forward.
The Editor [A. D. White]