History Relevance Campaign meets at Smithsonian

I’ll be at an all-day workshop today at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to discuss the work of the History Relevance Campaign with representatives of two dozen national organizations, including the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, American Historical Association, American Alliance of Museums, National Coalition for History, National History Day, National Humanities Alliance, and National Governors Association.  We’ll use our work on the values of history, impact project, and research on popular attitudes towards history to discuss where the campaign should go next and how they might get more involved (most of these organizations have already endorsed the values statement).  I’m not sure what the results will be but you can follow along on Twitter at #historyrelevance.

2 thoughts on “History Relevance Campaign meets at Smithsonian

  1. William Hosley

    History Relevance is several cards short of a full deck because its brain trust is heavily slanted toward “national organizations.” Its the same problem Kykuit had – not enough balance between big establishment voices and the many smalls, plus a general disregard for the notion that local may be the level that matters most and that the 1000s of mostly-small, often-poor orgs actually do MOST of the work of preserving and presenting our history. They represent a golden opportunity to make history relevant by making it close, intimate, accessible and relevant to communities. You also can’t raise this easily with the academic networks which skew their research toward blue chip subject matter (16000 entries in Lincoln’s biblio seems a bit much, right?) and/or are in the estrus of political correctness – which is a turn off for the general public and even students – who have been for a generation, opting out of History as a major – not to mention the challenges at the secondary school level. Until the composition of the brain trust changes – the results aren’t likely to change.


    1. Max van Balgooy Post author

      The steering committee may be heavily slanted towards “national organizations” but that’s primarily due to the difficulty that state or local organizations are able to participate due to their availability. Nevertheless, the HRC has several state organizations involved on the steering committee (e.g., Idaho Historical Society, Nebraska Historical Society). Secondly, the past two years have been devoted to working directly with individuals and organizations that work at the state and local level, either by making presentations about HRC at their gatherings (such as the Heritage Areas of Maryland or the State Societies of the Colonial Dames) or at various conferences (including the National Council for Public History and American Association for State and Local History). Indeed, this recent meeting at the Smithsonian was our first effort since we began to intentionally engage the national organizations that are involved in history (e.g., National Park Service, Smithsonian, American Historical Association).

      As an all-volunteer group, the HRC is trying its best to reach as many history organizations as possible, big and small, and get them involved. How about helping us spread the word by encouraging them to endorse the Values of History or to learn more about HRC by visiting the website?


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