Know a Museum or Site Making an Impact with History?

Discussing the History Relevance Campaign at a packed session at AASLH in St. Paul.

Discussing the History Relevance Campaign at a packed session at AASLH in St. Paul. Photo by Lee Wright.

At the American Association for State and Local History annual meeting in St. Paul, the History Relevance Campaign presented an update on their work to a packed audience. During the session, we presented the Impact Project, a year-long process for identifying and studying historic sites and history museums that are making history relevant in their community. The goals of the Impact Project are to:

  • Increase the use of history as a way to understand and address critical community issues.
  • Help board members and staff make an impact in their communities by integrating best practices into their strategic and interpretive plans
  • Encourage AASLH and other professional associations to include standards on community relevance and impact
  • Encourage academic programs in history, public history, and museum studies to include community relevance and impact in their curriculum
  • Encourage elected officials, funders, and communities to provide more support for history organizations that are making an impact
  • Provide every Governor with at least one example of history organizations that are making an impact in their state

We Need Your Help

We are looking for history museums, historic sites, and similar organizations that are making an impact on their community using history. After we’ve collected a list of suggested history organizations, we will interview them to begin to identify exemplary practices and model programs to share with the field.

If you have suggestions for museums, sites, or organizations for this study, please send us the name of the organization as well as the name and contact information (if you have it) of the staff person we should interview either in the comments below or to one of the following individuals by October 22:

To learn more, read “What is the History Relevance Campaign?” or join the “History Relevance Campaign” group at LinkedIn.

6 thoughts on “Know a Museum or Site Making an Impact with History?

  1. Randi Korn

    Great idea, Max. Don’t forget to collect evidence of impact–really, really important. In other words, I suspect that plenty of museums say they making an impact but when asked to deliver evidence, they fall short. Another important point (in my view) is that museums need to articulate (clearly and concretely) the kind of impact they want to achieve. Without that guidepost for planning and gauge for evaluation, it will be difficult to measure impact because it hasn’t been clarified. My 2 cents for what it’s worth.

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    1. Max van Balgooy Post author

      You’re absolutely right, Randi, and we’re taking many of our cues on impact from your work on intentionality (if readers aren’t aware of Randi’s groundbreaking thinking on impact, you’ll find several articles at her website at RandiKorn.com). For our study, we initially wanted to limit the scope of work to those who had conducted an evaluation but quickly realized that would narrow the sample too much to be useful, so we’re casting a larger net to get more candidates, which we’ll then refine during our study. This also a preliminary study and once we have a lay of the land, we anticipate a subsequent deeper study will be required to better establish our findings and recommendations.

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  2. Zachary Hottel

    Hi,

    I would like to suggest using the Historic Shenandoah County Courthouse in Woodstock Virginia. It opened this summer and is having a tremendous impact on the community already. The contact person is Zachary Hottel, zachhottel@gmail.com. Thanks!

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  3. Liz Clayton

    The Robbins House: Concord’s African American History is a historic home built for the first free generation of Caesar Robbins, a Revolutionary War veteran enslaved at birth near Concord, MA. The house, located across the street from the North Bridge, is open to the public to tell the stories of the African Americans who lived in Concord from the Revolutionary through the Civil wars, and their struggles for independence.

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  4. Max van Balgooy Post author

    Thanks for your suggestions. So far, our wide call for suggestions has developed into a list of about fifty museums and historic sites. We’ll be reviewing the entire list soon to determine which meet the criteria for our initial study and then begin the interviews to develop case studies over the next few months. We expect to report on our findings in spring 2015.

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