Greetings from Minnesota!

St. Paul, Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River.

St. Paul, Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River.

This week I’m attending the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I’ll be part of a couple educational sessions, debuting my new book on the interpretation of African American history and culture, and concluding my term on the Council.  The Minnesota Historical Society has worked hard to encourage participation and radio raconteur Garrison Keillor is giving the keynote address, so this is expected to be among the largest annual meetings in AASLH’s history.  The AASLH annual meeting has lots going on including more than 70 sessions and workshops, evening gatherings at the Minnesota History Center and Mill City Museum, a dozen tours of local museums and historic sites, affinity group luncheons, poster and pop-up sessions, an exhibit hall of vendors and companies, and lots of receptions.  It’s an ideal place to keep up with what’s happening in the field as well as catch up with my colleagues and friends.  If you won’t be able to make it in person, consider attending online (deadline to register is 5 pm on Wednesday, September 17).

On Thursday, I’l be moderating a session with debb Wilcox and Lee Wright, two marketing experts from outside the history field to discuss studies and approaches for attracting and retaining audiences.  I’ll open with a brief overview from various national studies, including NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts.  Debb will discuss the results of more than five years of study of history museums and historic sites through Visitor Counts!, a program of AASLH and the Center for Nonprofit Management.  Lee, the founder of The History List and History Camp who works internationally in marketing and technology, will discuss some low-cost ways to conduct marketing studies to better understand your audiences.

On Friday, I’ll be joining some of my colleagues in the History Relevance Campaign to provide an update on our work with Kim Fortney of National History Day moderating the session.  Kent Whitworth of the Kentucky Historical Society will discuss the efforts to obtain support from the National Governors Association and the latest set of “values of history.”  Conny Graft and I will debut the start of a national research project on history organizations that are making an impact on their communities, demonstrating our process with the help of Mary Ellen White of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (draft description and questionnaire available).  Tim Grove of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (and author of recently published Grizzly in the Mail) will close the session.

I’ll be sharing what I learn and discover via Twitter (#AASLH2014) and this blog both during and after the meeting.  And if you’re a reader of and you’ll be in St. Paul, be sure to say hello and introduce yourself (it’s more likely that you’ll recognize me than I will recognize you!).