The Seminar for Historical Administration class of 2010 gathered in Indianapolis this weekend for the start of three weeks of intensive learning about the practice of public history in America. The 19 students come from large historical societies and small historic sites, from publicly funded museums and private nonprofits, spanning the country from Nantucket to Hawaii, and from Canada, too. They are leaders in their respective institutions, some as executive directors, many as department heads. They all wear many hats.
These are exciting times for the history field as organizations everywhere experiment with new ways to engage their communities and achieve their missions, with an eye to building more sustainable futures. This year’s class will learn from some of the best in the field and engage in discussions about the changes that are occurring and where we are headed. I’ll be posting blogs over the course of the seminar, commenting on the topics we will cover and the issues we discuss.
As a field we have a big challenge ahead of us. We need to assert that the practice of history is critically important to the wellbeing of all, and not just the pastime of a few. And we need to deliver on that claim by involving others and helping them find meaningful connections with the past. At the same time, we need new leaders to step up as the boomer generation begins to retire over the next five years. My expectation is that members of the 2010 class will be among the leaders who will meet this challenge in their own organizations, in their respective communities, and in the field at large.