The American Association for State and Local History refreshed its website at aaslh.org, launching a significantly improved and enhanced version that’s rich with color and photos, along with continually updated news, blog posts, and tweets laid out in a magazine format. You’ll need to explore the various pages to discover the new features and content, but I especially like News and Views to quickly soak up what’s happening and the Learn and Search Interests pages, where you can browse popular topics with just a click of a mouse, such as “administration” or “funding.” There’s also a Your Feed page that allows you choose from a menu of topics that interest you, such as “best practices” or “historic houses” and viola! you get a special page created just for you.
As a member of the AASLH Council, I officially receive the credit for the new website, but it actually belongs to the AASLH staff, particularly Rebecca Price, Bob Beatty, and Terry Jackson. This new website has been a longtime in coming, but it was worth the wait.
PS. If the new website comes up broken, as it did for me at first, just refresh your browser to clear its memory of the old website.
This 35-minute video is the first cut of a working documentary by Brian Dempsey and Angela Smith about heritage tourism and the Mississippi Delta Blues, featuring Jimmy “Duck” Holmes from Bentonia, Mississippi. Dempsey and Smith were PhD students in public history at Middle Tennessee State University four years ago when they produced this video.
This holiday season, Amazon.com is mixing business with charity in its newest project, AmazonSmile. By shopping at smile.amazon.com instead of plain old amazon.com, 0.5 percent of the value of their purchases will be donated to the customer’s preferred charity (i.e., a $100 purchase becomes a 50 cent donation). When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. What’s even more amazing is that there seems to be no limit to the amount Amazon will give to charity, although as of now auto-renewed subscription purchases and digital products aren’t included. Donations will be made by the AmazonSmile Foundation, so customers using AmazonSmile will not be able to claim donations as charitable deductions.
Angela Smith, assistant professor and director of the public history program at North Dakota State University shares this six minute general overview of the value of history and how the Public History Program at NDSU has contributed through several student projects. This video was presented at the College Honors Day on October 11, 2013.
National Geographic Channel presents its history of Halloween in this 3:12 video. It’s a bit dramatic but well produced. As an alternative, you can buy the “Ghosts of History” video to project ghostly images of people in “colonial clothing” on a scrim. I’m not sure the colonial period was the scariest for America–how about the attack on Pearl Harbor or the Cuban Missile Crisis?
It’s unclear if most historic house museums will be able to move beyond traditional approaches based upon the discussion at yesterday’s, “There is Power In a Union: Collaboration and Sustainability in Historic House Museums.” At the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums annual meeting, Frank Vagnone of the New York Historic House Trust moderated the session with a panel of five representatives of the National Trust’s Historic Artists’ Home and Studios program and about 35 people in attendance. Although Vagnone encouraged the group to focus on collaborations that earned significant income to sustain the museum, examples from the audience kept falling short. Anything that provided some revenue (such as school groups or small grants) or increased attendance (even if it was shortlived or unrelated) were held up as acceptable partnerships. The audience discussed the value of serving school groups, the need to use social media, the declining relevance of museums, and the challenge of obtaining grants from local banks, but no one was Continue reading →
James Singewald, is photographing and researching ten historic streets in Baltimore for his project, Baltimore: A History Block by Block. This 4:30 video explains his project and presents a series of his photographs that show the rich variety of architecture that survives (and may be soon demolished) and is raising funds for 4×5 film, processing, research, and publication on Kickstarter. It’s a great way to raise funds to research and document historic neighborhoods, and he’d appreciate your support with a gift of $10 or more (he’s raised nearly half of his expenses with 65 backers). Singewald received his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art abd is currently the imaging services technician at the Maryland Historical Society> He funded his previous book, Old Town, East Baltimore, in 2010 through Kickstarter.
Washington, DC is one of the nation’s museum meccas with nearly 19 million annual visitors so with the partial shutdown of the federal government, tourists are frustrated and confused. Closed are the most popular destinations such as the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, Lincoln Memorial, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Archives, and Capitol Visitor Center (tours of the White House ended in March 2013 due to sequestration). Although it is a federal city, many of its museums and historic sites are privately operated so places such as the Phillips Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art, President Lincoln’s Cottage, Tudor Place, Woodrow Wilson House, and International Spy Museum, are open as usual. “National” may be in its name, it doesn’t mean it’s affected by the shutdown, so the National Building Museum, National Geographic Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, National Museum of Health and Medicine, and National Museum of American Jewish Military History are open (as is the National Aquarium in Baltimore). Adding to the confusion are parts of the federal government that remain open (hence its more precise definition as a “partial shutdown”), so historic sites such as the US Supreme Court and Arlington National Cemetery (but not Arlington House), continue to be open to tourists.
Washington DC is definitely a confusing places for tourists at the moment, but it’s also confusing at the Continue reading →
The September 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review features four articles on women in leadership, which will be of interest to many people who work at historic sites and museums. The first is on the subtle gender bias that obstructs women’s access to leadership in even the most well-meaning organizations (and how to correct the problem), the second article describes companies who have successfully incorporated inclusivity, and the third reveals the way women make buying decisions differently in a business-to-business (B2B) setting from men. The fourth article is a roundup of recent research on women in the workplace, such as women receive less criticism but also less challenging assignments. Of course, the museum and historic site field is dominated by women, so I wonder what these statistics would look like for us.
There’s also a good article on “customer journey mapping.” It’s a relatively new method of studying a customer’s buying experience by identifying all the places that a company interacts with a customer and evaluating each of these “touchpoints.” By mapping the customer’s journey to buy a product from their initial search for information to its delivery and installation, a company can better understand the Continue reading →
A painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch master artist, comes to life in this video staged in a busy shopping mall. Using the slogan, “Our Heroes are Back” and inspired by Rembrandt’s Night Watch (1642), it promotes the return of all the major artworks after a decade’s long renovation of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It’s chaotic and confusing, so hang on to the end and it’ll come together. Thanks to Cathy Fields for suggesting this video.