AASLH Annual Meeting in September Offers Lots for Historic Sites

Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul, an historic site of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul, an historic site of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Historic sites and house museums will find lots of educational sessions and workshops just for them at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History on September 17-20 in St. Paul, Minnesota (the right half of the Twin Cities).  There are more than 70 sessions and workshops offered this year, so I’m only highlighting a few to show the diversity of topics on or about historic sites:

  • Putting the Native American Voice into Historic Sites
  • Saving the Charnley Norwood House
  • Interpreting Religion at Historic House Museums
  • Two Very Different Historic Houses Ask:  We Got the Money–Now What?
  • Telling a Whole History:  Methods of Interpreting Domestic Servants
  • Welcoming All Visitors:  Accessible Programs at History Museums and Sites
  • Diversity and Inclusion:  What Does that Really Mean for Museums and Historic Sites?
  • Diversity in Education:  Teaching About Slavery, Innovative Strategies, and Best Practices
  • Making the Invisible Visible:  Using Mobile Technology to Reach New Audiences, Improve Accessibility, and Breathe New Life into a Virginia Historic Site
  • Redefining Success:  Tips and Techniques for Training Interpreters to Talk About Slavery
  • They Can’t All be Museums
  • Pocket Change:  Moving a House Museum into the 21st Century on a Budget

Of course, there are many more sessions that address related topics, such as boards, fundraising, collections management, visitor research, historic preservation, and even construction management. There are typically nine sessions occurring at the same time, so you’ll always find something of interest (indeed, I plan ahead to be sure I maximize my time–there are sometimes similar sessions offered on different days).  I’ll be participating in two sessions:

  • Seeing the Forest:  A National Perspective of History Organizations (looking at research findings from NEA, Visitor’s Count, and consumer research)
  • History Rising: The Campaign for Promoting the Value of History Continues (an update on the work of the History Relevance Campaign).

Luncheons around special topics, including historic house museums, small museums, and educators and interpreters, are an easy way to meet people who share a similar interest.  Plus there are more than a dozen tours that get you out of windowless conferences rooms, including several walking tours of historic architecture and neighborhoods plus a mobile workshop on “New Uses for Old Houses,” which explores new programming at the Alexander Ramsey House, American Swedish Institute, and the Le Duc Estate.  Did I mention that Garrison Keillor and Marilyn Carlson Nelson are two featured speakers?  Review the conference program for more details (pdf).

The cost of travel is probably a bigger hurdle than the conference registration fee so consider attending the online version.  Three pre-selected sessions per day will be presented as webinars so you can ask questions and make comments from your home or office.  The cost is $110 for individuals; $60 for members (other rates for other membership levels and groups).

Here are some key deadlines:

  • July 25 (just over two weeks away!):  Early Bird Registration rate ends ($460; $245 for AASLH members)
  • August 15:  Pre-registration ends ($485; $310 for members)
  • August 17-26 or when full:  Discounts on hotel rates