AASLH Annual Meeting Recap

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The AASLH Annual Meeting in St. Paul was a whirlwind for me, starting on Wednesday by stepping off the plane and heading directly into a five-hour Council meeting and then joining the evening reception at the Mill City Museum.  The rest of the week held the same pace with walking tours of St. Paul at 7 am (had to skip breakfast), educational sessions throughout the day, and chatting with colleagues over dinner.  It was great fun but it didn’t give me much time share on this blog what was happening during the conference.  I’ll talk about a couple sessions in more detail later, but here are a few highlights in the meantime:

  • About 1,050 people attended the conference, making it one of the largest in recent memory.  Thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society for making a big push in their state. It also resulted in many packed, even overflowing, sessions.  Looks like we need a bigger boat.
  • Garrison Keillor gave a perfect keynote address and seemed to do it with just a small stack of notecards.  He discussed the history of Minnesota using local landmarks (including street names) and the recording will be available soon on the AASLH website.
  • I had a “aha” moment in the Educators and Interpreters/Visitors’ Voices Roundtable.  I’ve been puzzling over a simple interpretive planning tool that combines mission/vision, audience, and methods and realized it can be achieved by creating a hybrid of Ash Maurya’s “Lean Canvas” and the traditional logic model discussed in the roundtable. I debuted this new planning tool at an “understanding audiences” workshop in New Jersey on Monday.
  • During the “Seeing the Forest” session, a pipe in the ceiling began leaking right in the middle of the room.  No worries–several folks in the audience immediately found a trash can liner and set it up between two chairs to catch the drips. That’s disaster response! Once we had it under control, we continued on with the session.
  • You may have noticed some video interviews occurring in the reception areas. Kristine Navarro of the University of Texas at El Paso is producing a series of  three-minute videos for the National Council on Public History on a variety of topics, like this one at http://vimeo.com/90818899.  She interviewed me about the value of conferences and networking, tips for getting a job, and the History Relevance Campaign.
  • AASLH will be celebrating its 75th anniversary next year and launched a $75 annual gift campaign with 100 percent participation by the Council.  As the organization chooses its next president and CEO, it’s a great opportunity to give him or her the resources to move the organization to the next level.