United States 250th Anniversary
The United States will commemorate its 250th (or “Semiquincentennial”) anniversary in 2026. AASLH is providing key leadership for the history community as we all prepare for this once-in-a-generation event. We are monitoring national, regional, and state commemoration plans as they develop, serving as a clearinghouse of information for history organizations and practitioners at the local, state, and national levels, particularly through the publication of an annual report on the status of commemoration efforts. We are in communication with other national initiatives, including the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, to help ensure that the values and goals of the history community are represented well in national commemoration efforts. We have organized a national coordinating committee, facilitating communication and collaboration among major organizations, institutions, and agencies. Finally, we are outlining major goals for the anniversary that can help align the work of a diverse and dynamic field over the next several years.
AASLH has organized a coordinating committee to facilitate communication and coordination among national stakeholders as preparations for the Semiquincentennial proceed. The committee includes the following members:
- Sara Cureton (Chair), New Jersey Historical Commission
- Jeff Allen, Federation of State Humanities Councils
- Jody Blankenship, Indiana Historical Society
- Jim Campi, American Battlefield Trust
- Kevin Cherry, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
- Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Association of African American Museums
- Sylvia Cyrus, Association for the Study of African American Life and History
- John Dichtl, American Association for State and Local History
- Laura Dominquez, Latin@s in Heritage Conservation
- W. Eric Emerson, Council of State Archivists
- Susan Feller, Assoc. of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums
- Cathy Gorn, National History Day
- Kevin Gover, National Museum of the American Indian
- Linnea Grim, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
- Jim Grossman, American Historical Association
- Anthea Hartig, National Museum of American History
- Richard M. Josey, Collective Journeys, LLC
- Stephen Kidd, National Humanities Alliance
- Jennifer Kilmer, Washington State Historical Society
- Gavin Kleespies, Massachusetts Historical Society
- Turkiya Lowe, National Park Service
- Maud Lyon, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
- Brian Martin, American Battlefield Trust
- Jeani O’Brien, National Council on Public History
- Larry Paska, National Council for the Social Studies
- Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Creative Strategies 360°
- Barry Szczesny, American Alliance of Museums
- Lee White, National Coalition for History
- Karin Wulf, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
With the help of the 250th anniversary task force, AASLH has developed broad aspirations for what the 250th anniversary can accomplish for the field and for the public. These goals are:
- Make history relevant to every American, every day
- Tell inclusive stories about the American past
- Increase funding for history
- Enhance the public’s engagement with history collections
- Emphasize the importance of history education.
After holding listening sessions about these goals at major conferences, including AASLH, National Council on Public History, Association of African American Museums, and the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, AASLH has convened working groups to help consider them more deeply. These working groups will provide ideas and action plans to help guide the work of the field. They began meeting in Summer 2019 and will begin sharing their work later this year.
250th Anniversary Resources
On December 31, 2019, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission delivered a report to the President outlining their recommendations for the “America 250” commemoration. View the full report here. You can read a summary of the report here.
The reports below detail the status of planning across the country. AASLH gathers the information each Spring and publishes the report each Summer.
The legislation linked below provide examples of how different states are approaching the Semiquincentennial. Some lean on existing structures and personnel, while others nominate private citizens to newly established bodies.
- New Jersey passed legislation in 2018 requiring the existing New Jersey Historical Commission to establish a program for commemorating the Semiquincentennial and permitting them to enter into a public-private partnership with a nonprofit to plan and carry out that work. It also appropriates $500,000 annually through 2028 for that purpose.
- North Carolina created a 250th committee organized by the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Office of Archives and History. This committee was designated as entity responsible for 250th planning in the state by executive action in October 2019.
- Pennsylvania created the Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial, or “America250PA,” in 2018. The commission consists of two members from each chamber of the legislature (one from each party), in addition to twenty-four private citizens, four each appointed by the minority and majority leader of each chamber and the Governor. It also includes several ex officio members, including the state’s Attorney General, Auditor General, and Treasurer; the secretaries of Education, Transportation, Conservation and Natural Resources; the chairs of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; and several others.
- South Carolina in 2019 formed the South Carolina American Revolution Sestercentennial Commission. The Commission includes fifteen members, including the Governor, Chairman of the Archives and History Commission, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (all ex officio); and four members each appointed by the Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor. The legislation requires that at least one of the members appointed by the Senate, House, and Governor be “of American-American descent.” It further stipulates that “This proper observance of the Sestercentennial must include the role of persons of African-American descent in the Revolutionary War.”
- Tennessee created the Tennessee Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial in 2019. Attached to the Department of Tourist Development, the commission includes the heads of the states major historical and museum institutions (state historical society, state historical commission, state museum, state library and archives) and several others, including the commissioner of tourist development, representatives from the Tennessee chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, the executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society, and two members from each chamber of the legislature.