Third International Drive History Conference Call for Papers

The Third International Drive History Conference: Celebrating 50 Years of the Society of Automotive Historians

April 11-13, 2019, NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 

The Society of Automotive Historians is a group of automotive enthusiasts from over 20 countries who are passionate about researching and recording automotive history.  In 2019 they are celebrating their 50th anniversary through a conference co-hosted by the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA), the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH), and the College of Charleston’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning (HPCP) program.

            Studying automobiles within the field of heritage studies raises interesting questions related to heritage management as motor vehicles are deeply embedded in identity formation within many societies globally. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared that culture and heritage are human rights. Therefore, as a valuable heritage asset, the automotive past requires consideration, evaluation, and stewardship. Automobile history is also about the present and future, in addition to the past. Therefore, this aspect of heritage applies to those engineering the future of transportation and the built environment in addition to cultural policy makers and practitioners. Comprehensive stewardship of the automotive past also entails recording, interpreting, and documenting the experience of using and being transported in a motor vehicle, as well as the trades skills and craftsmanship of automobile design, assembly, and maintenance; besides the physical conservation interventions of cars. Moreover, we are also interested in the stories of how and why people – such as the members of the Society of Automotive Historians, among other groups – have studied, evaluated, and appreciated the history of the automobile over the last 50 years (so studying the people who study the cars).

Conference presentations will be organized according to three thematic tracks, which are:

  1. Preserving the Artifact
  1. Interpretation and Documentation
  1. Education, Media, and Sharing

The program committee invites proposals from people of all backgrounds and professions to participate – from senior academics and professionals to students with innovative ideas – for the following:

  1. Paper Session: We prefer to receive proposals for complete three to four paper sessions but will consider individual presentations as well. You are welcome to include a chair and/or moderator or the conference committee will appoint a chair. The entire panel presentation should span no more than 60 minutes.
  1. Individual Papers: If accepted, we will place your individual presentation on a panel or roundtable selected by the committee. Paper presentations should span no more than 20 minutes.
  1. Roundtables or Testimonial Workshops: Discussions facilitated by a moderator with three to five participants that reflects upon people studying automotive history, such as those in the Society of Automotive Historians. Roundtables/workshops should span no more than 60 minutes.        

Please submit proposals of no more than 500 words and a brief CV/resume (two pages maximum) in a PDF or MSWord format to Barry L. Stiefel at Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis between November 15, 2018 and January 15, 2019. Proposals should include the name(s) of presenters, affiliation/position, and contact information. While the Historic Vehicle Association and the Society of Automotive Historians are based in North America, we desire this to be an international conference and encourage international participation. English is the official language of the conference. 

A registration fee will be required for the conference ($400 early bird [March 31]/$500 late registration) at,  which will include three lunches, two dinners, and snacks/beverages at the conference, as well as a one-year membership with the HVA. For currently enrolled students traveling more than 100 miles to Allentown, Pennsylvania assistance with travel and accommodations for the conference will be considered. Please provide documentation of your current course schedule, a budget of what you need assistance with in your proposal, as well as what other resources from which you anticipate receiving support.

Conference Organizers:

Barry L. Stiefel, Associate Professor, College of Charleston

Mark D. Gessler, President, Historic Vehicle Association

H. Donald Capps, Society of Automotive Historians