The Way of Improvement Leads Home at the OAH

OAHI will be in New Orleans this weekend for the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians.

The Way of Improvement Leads Home will be providing coverage of the conference through a handful of correspondents–from graduate students to tenured professors–who will be writing posts about their experiences.  (Actually, our coverage has already begun.  Check out William Horne’s restaurant recommendations).

I will also be blogging regularly.  I am open to posting just about anything related to the conference.  It is not too late to write for us (contact me) or feel free to send along pictures from your day-to-day conference experience and we will post them here.

On Saturday I will be leading two “Chat Rooms” in the Plenary Theater in Exhibit Hall. From 12:30-1:15 I will be joining Elisabeth Marsh of the OAH and Ed Ayers of the University of Richmond in a session on the History Relevance Campaign (I serve on the board of this initiative).  From 1:15-2:00 I will be co-leading a discussion with Kevin Schultz of the University of Illinois-Chicago on “How to be a Twitterstorian.”

I hope to see some of you at (in?) these chat rooms.

Do You Know About the History Relevance Campaign?

historyrelevance210x210If you believe that historical thinking can help our country and our communities I would encourage you to connect with the History Relevance Campaign.  I am proud to serve on the Steering Committee of this campaign.

In May 2016 representatives from dozens of historical agencies, organizations, and museums met at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

Two of the meeting organizers, Tim Grove of the Air and Space Museum and John Dichtl of the American Association of State and Local History, report on the event at History News Network.

Here is a taste of their piece:

The History Relevance Campaign, a three-year old effort in the history field to raise the profile of history in American society, joined forces with the Smithsonian Institution on May 24 for a day-long meeting titled History Relevance: Sparking a National Conversation. Hosted by the National Museum of American History, the meeting included representatives from across the history spectrum including the National Archives and Records Administration, National Park Service, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Council for Public History, National History Day, American Alliance of Museums, the National Coalition for History and a few state history organizations.

The History Relevance Campaign was founded by a group of history professionals who believe that a united voice in the history field and better communication among its widespread practitioners would lead to more influence and funding. They recognize that history organizations are not as articulate as they could be in demonstrating their relevance and that increased evaluation of their impact in their communities could lead to a better understanding of the value of history in general.

To that end, the group’s signature piece so far is the Value of History statement, a list of seven ways that the study of history brings value to society. The statement was crowdsourced in various professional conferences over two years and to date has been endorsed by more than one hundred thirty history organizations across the country. This week the Smithsonian added its name to the list.

The Campaign’s lofty goals begin with its impact statement: “People value history for its relevance to modern life, and use historical thinking skills to actively engage with and address contemporary issues.” Since there are many potential audiences for the message, including the entire American public, the Campaign is focusing on three audiences to start: history organizations, K-20 education, and funders. Most of their efforts so far have gone toward the first group: hence, lining up one hundred and thirty-two endorsers of the statement. They want their colleagues across the historical enterprise to advocate for history and historical thinking. On the other two audiences—K-20 and funders—the Campaign is just getting started. They recognize that the American Historical Association and National History Day and others are well advanced in that arena. For funders, the Campaign’s goal is for them to begin using a common set of metrics for evaluating the impact of the projects they fund, and requiring their grant recipients to measure impact. Campaign leaders also want funders to view history, historical thinking, and history organizations as critical to contemporary conversations.

The May 24 meeting began with remarks by Acting Smithsonian Provost Richard Kurin who offered some profound examples of history relevance. The group then briefly considered perceptions of the past and several national studies: Rosenzweig and Thelen’s The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life, History at the Crossroads: Australians and the Past, and Canadians and Their Pasts. The last major study of US perceptions was in 1998. The group questioned whether it is time for another one.

Read the rest here.  Follow the History Relevance Campaign on Twitter @historycampaign

Do You Know About the History Relevance Campaign?

historyrelevance210x210If you believe that historical thinking can help our country and our communities I would encourage you to connect with the History Relevance Campaign.  Last week representatives from dozens of historical agencies, organizations, and museums met at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

Two of the meeting organizers, Tim Grove of the Air and Space Museum and John Dichtl of the American Association of State and Local History, report on the event at History News Network.

Here is a taste of their piece:

The History Relevance Campaign, a three-year old effort in the history field to raise the profile of history in American society, joined forces with the Smithsonian Institution on May 24 for a day-long meeting titled History Relevance: Sparking a National Conversation. Hosted by the National Museum of American History, the meeting included representatives from across the history spectrum including the National Archives and Records Administration, National Park Service, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Council for Public History, National History Day, American Alliance of Museums, the National Coalition for History and a few state history organizations.

The History Relevance Campaign was founded by a group of history professionals who believe that a united voice in the history field and better communication among its widespread practitioners would lead to more influence and funding. They recognize that history organizations are not as articulate as they could be in demonstrating their relevance and that increased evaluation of their impact in their communities could lead to a better understanding of the value of history in general.

To that end, the group’s signature piece so far is the Value of History statement, a list of seven ways that the study of history brings value to society. The statement was crowdsourced in various professional conferences over two years and to date has been endorsed by more than one hundred thirty history organizations across the country. This week the Smithsonian added its name to the list.

The Campaign’s lofty goals begin with its impact statement: “People value history for its relevance to modern life, and use historical thinking skills to actively engage with and address contemporary issues.” Since there are many potential audiences for the message, including the entire American public, the Campaign is focusing on three audiences to start: history organizations, K-20 education, and funders. Most of their efforts so far have gone toward the first group: hence, lining up one hundred and thirty-two endorsers of the statement. They want their colleagues across the historical enterprise to advocate for history and historical thinking. On the other two audiences—K-20 and funders—the Campaign is just getting started. They recognize that the American Historical Association and National History Day and others are well advanced in that arena. For funders, the Campaign’s goal is for them to begin using a common set of metrics for evaluating the impact of the projects they fund, and requiring their grant recipients to measure impact. Campaign leaders also want funders to view history, historical thinking, and history organizations as critical to contemporary conversations.

The May 24 meeting began with remarks by Acting Smithsonian Provost Richard Kurin who offered some profound examples of history relevance. The group then briefly considered perceptions of the past and several national studies: Rosenzweig and Thelen’s The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life, History at the Crossroads: Australians and the Past, and Canadians and Their Pasts. The last major study of US perceptions was in 1998. The group questioned whether it is time for another one.

Read the rest here.

 

Keeping History Relevant

HRCLast month I announced that I have joined the steering committee of the History Relevance Campaign.  The public historians, history educators, and history museum professionals behind this movement are doing great work in promoting history as an essential feature of democratic life in the United States.

Several major institutions have endorsed this effort, including the American Association of State and Local History, the Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians, the Civil War Trust, the George Mason University History Department, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the History Channel, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the National Council for History Education, the National Council on Public History, National History Day, the Oral History Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Alliance of Museums, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and many others. Click here for a complete list.

Over at the blog of the American Association of State and Local History, Eliza Newland of the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum has offered eight ways to “keep history relevant.” Her thoughts come from the History Relevance Campaign’s “Value of History Statement.”

Here is a taste:

8 Ways to Help Keep History Relevant:

  1. Read the Value of History statement and use it to inform your own understanding of history’s relevance.
  2. Take a leadership role and seek formal endorsement of the Value of History statement by your organization. If you are a student, talk to the chair of your department about the statement. If you are a young professional, an intern, or a volunteer, talk to your supervisor.
  3. Commit to incorporating the Values into your work. Talk about them when strategic planning for your organization. Include them in your teaching statement.
  4. Spread the word. Start conversations with friends, colleagues, neighbors, or fellow students about the value of history and share insight. Talk about the Values in a class that you’re teaching or in a graduate student meeting.
  5. Share your story. Talk about how you incorporating the Values into your work. Send out social media messages about the importance and relevance of history.
  6. Continue the conversation on LinkedIn by joining the HRC group.
  7. Really motivated by the thought of making history more relevant? Contribute your time and talents to an HRC task force. They are always looking for help and there are multiple task forces that you can join based on your interests: Marketing, K-20 Education, Impact Project, and more. Learn more about how you can get involved.  
  8. Follow the History Relevance Campaign (@historycampaign) on Twitter.

 

Episode 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast Drops on Sunday

podcast-icon1We are halfway through the Spring 2016 season at The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  In Episode 5: “Encountering the Past,” we talk with author and public historian Tim Grove about his books, his love of history (he has some great stories) and his involvement in the History Relevance Campaign.

If you are unfamiliar with the podcast click here or head over to ITunes to download episodes and subscribe.  If you like what we are doing tell your friends or consider writing a review.

Episode 5 drops here and on ITunes on Sunday, March 13, 2016.  Enjoy!

The History Relevance Campaign

HRCLast night I had dinner with Tim Grove, an award-winning writer, public historian at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and one of the driving forces behind the History Relevance Campaign.  Stay tuned for an Author’s Corner interview with Tim on his recent book A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American History.

Most of our conversation revolved around the History Relevance Campaign.  Tim and his colleagues are passionate about bringing history and historical thinking to bear on civic life.  Head over to the website and take some time to explore.  I strongly encourage everyone to read the “Values Statement.”  It makes a compelling case for why history is essential to ourselves, our communities, and our future.

As someone who is passionate about bringing history and historical thinking to public audiences, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the History Relevance Campaign.   A whole host of history organizations and institutions agree with me.  The Values Statement has been endorsed by the Organization of American Historians, National History Day,  World History Association, Virginia Historical Society, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Oral History Association, National Council on Public History, Massachusetts Historical Society, History Channel, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, George Mason University History Department, Civil War Trust, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, American Association of State and Local History, and many more.

If you want to make a case for the importance of history in our world today, the History Relevance Campaign is worth a look.   You can connect with them as well on their LinkedIn site.