Five thousand historians -- including 50 from abroad -- packed the new Marriott Marquis Hotel last weekend for the 100th annual meeting of the American Historical Association.

In the presidential address, William H. McNeill of the University of Chicago spoke on the theme of "mythistory" and the links of truth, myth and historians to modern society and the future. McNeill stressed the dangers of historians acting as "true believers" in small groups of specialties. He urged that they consider history as an ecumenical discipline in which the more areas historians are well versed in, the more active they can be in the areas of debate.

Along these lines were sessions on the 25th anniversary of the publication of A.J.P. Taylor's "Origins of the Second World War" and an analysis of the leadership of Eduard Benes and the development of the modern Czechoslovakian state. A special session commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Leo Baeck Institute featured an address by Gordon Craig of Stanford University on Frederick the Great and philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and the subject of Jewish emancipation.

The American Historical Association estimated that attendance was perhaps the largest of recent meetings. Among the outstanding historians who received special awards or book awards were Felix Gilbert, Carole Fink and John H. Elliott, the latter for his outstanding work on "Richelieu and Olivares."

Sessions were held on the establishment of an ethics code within the association in the aftermath of questions of archival inaccuracies in recent works, and controversy erupted over a planned query of how distinguished historians might have been misused by Russian historians at recent international forums and general meetings for purposes of "peace propaganda."