Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's my payback for SHA?
I had the opportunity to attend the Seminar for Historical
Administration last year and have since considered the question "what's the
payback for SHA?" I am a director of a mid-size community's historical society
and it never fails to amaze me how vast and varied our methods and approach to
history are all over America and even in the next town. Unlike many other
professions, you do not need a license to practice history and
that leads to a public that does not know what to expect from its local museums
because they have probably seen both the best and the worst of us. That is, in
essence, the payback to SHA for me- it set the bar for best practices in
the history field in a way that no other program has come close in the field of
public history. I know as I approach the wide variety of problems and
challenges that historical societies face that I have an edge over the rest
because I attended SHA and discussed and learned and argued and discovered the
complexities of being a public historian.

As the director of a small museum, I am very grateful for the
opportunity that SHA afforded me and will pay it forward by encouraging my
fellow small museum colleagues to consider attending SHA. I also know that the
program is not possible without the generous underwriting from its sponsors, and
I am eternally grateful for those organizations that donate resources of all
kinds to its success. Due to the sponsors of SHA, the program is available to
not only staff at the large, national institutions, but also those at the local
level, and as we all know, local museums can play a key role in a community's
culture. SHA never made my issues seem small or insignificant, and that attitude
is critical for the success of our field as a whole. On behalf of the small,
local museums all over America, we appreciate the sponsors of SHA for
understanding the importance of best practices in history organizations and
thank them for funding this critical endeavor. Since attending SHA last year,
our organization has a new mission, new vision, and has adopted a strategic plan
for the first time in its history. Our work has lead to greater public
awareness of heritage in our community, which has a ripple affect outward-
raising all of us up with it. After attending SHA, I now feel I have a license
to practice history and a whole network of people that I can turn to for
support. Onward!


  1. Jeanne, thanks for this great post. Through leaders like you we have a positive impact on communities large and small throughout the country. Keep up the good work! John

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