I've been to general conferences in Economics where the History of Economics sessions had no more people in the audience than giving presentations. Not so, at this year's ASSAs, where the HES sessions were organized by the 2005-6 HES VP, Jerry Evensky. I was able to attend 2 of the 4 HES sponsored sessions. (One took place before I arrived, given I opted to spend the extra night at home with my family. An HES executive mtg kept me away from the Friday afternoon session, on "Adam Smith as Theologian".) By all accounts both were wonderful; I heard there were over 60 people at the Robbins session.
The two sessions I DID take part in were, I thought, terrific. At the session entitled, "Chicago Economics in Historical and Philosophical Perspective", it was standing room only. I counted: all seats taken (40), 10 standing, one sitting on the floor, 4 presenters and the session chair. 56. I was told there were people standing outside the room as well, listening. Then, a session late in the afternoon on Saturday, "Great Ideas for teaching the HET" was attended by another 40 people.
For the first time, as well, the Society sponsored a reception. We weren't sure what to expect, though we did send out letters of invitations to people who might attend. The experiment was a huge success: a great mix of the regular HES-ers and, just as important, new people who wanted to check out the conversations (and the free food and drink!).
I don't think there's any doubt that the society on the move. More thoughts on that before long.