About the American Association for State and Local History

AASLH is the professional association for history-doers. Whether you are the director of a history museum, a volunteer at a historical society, a genealogist, an educator at a historic house, a history teacher, an avocational historian, an archivist, or in one of the many other important roles in the history field, AASLH is your community.

What We Believe

Our mission, vision, and values are the current that runs through everything we do and pushes our work forward.

AASLH provides leadership and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history to make the past more meaningful.

AASLH’s vision for the field at large and itself is:

  • AASLH is the preferred association for history organizations as well as those who work and volunteer for them.
  • Through the leadership provided by AASLH, history organizations are held in the highest possible regard in their communities, within the philanthropic sector, and within public policy.

Core Values: The values AASLH holds form the foundation on which it performs work and conducts itself. In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do.

Core Competencies:  AASLH’s areas of greatest expertise. Those strategically important capabilities central to fulfilling AASLH’s mission or providing an advantage in our service environment/market. Core competencies frequently are challenging for competitors or partners to imitate, and may provide a sustainable competitive advantage. May involve technology, unique service, market place niche, or particular business acumen.

AASLH Values to Competencies Matrix

Values Competencies as they relate to Value
AASLH values history as a key component to a democratic and well-informed society. AASLH recognizes excellence through a national awards program. AASLH seeks increased funding for history organizations to assist them in their work. AASLH endorses active engagement and lifelong learning inside and outside of the classroom and/or formal education.
AASLH values listening to the needs of the field and designs programs and services to fulfill those needs. AASLH uses research, analysis, and feedback and uses these tools in planning. AASLH provides out-front leadership for the field in the national arena. AASLH is a nimble, dynamic organization that welcomes change. AASLH uses up-to-date technology to disseminate its work as broadly as possible throughout the field.
AASLH values those people and organizations that practice state and local history and their success and sustainability. AASLH maintains an active network of affinity groups, committees, and volunteers to expand its workforce and engage members in its most critical work. AASLH is dedicated to developing the field’s next generation of leaders and looks for ways to involve emerging professionals in its committees, affinity groups, and Council. AASLH works as part of a national community of organizations dedicated to various aspects of state and local history and the museum and cultural field. AASLH establishes and promotes ethics, standards, and best practices. AASLH, while primarily a membership organization, does not restrict its service to its members but strives to be an advocate for and of service to the field as a whole. AASLH strives to broaden its network, engage stakeholders, and cultivate shareholders in the work of the history field.
AASLH values a service culture that is ethical and inclusive. AASLH employs a qualified, dedicated staff. AASLH employs sound business strategies.

Our Strategic Plan incorporates our mission, vision, and values to guide us purposefully forward.  2016-2019 Strategic Plan

Our Constitution and Bylaws provide our governing framework. AASLH Constitution and Bylaws

Who We Are

We are powered by a small staff, an engaged council, and passionate members.

In 1904, the American Historical Association, itself a fledgling professional body, established the semi-autonomous Conference of State and Local Historical Societies to serve the leaders of those agencies. In 1939, a group of Conference members, chaired by Christopher C. Crittenden, director of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History, discussed and then proposed the creation of an independent entity. Its job would be to better coordinate the activities of historical societies and stimulate the writing and teaching of state and local history in North America.

On December 27, 1940, the Conference of State and Local History met and disbanded itself. Then the American Association for State and Local History was born. Its first charter stated that AASLH’s purpose was, simply, “the promotion of effort and activity in the fields of state, provincial, and local history in the United States and Canada.”

Now, more than a century after the first organization was created to serve and support the burgeoning field of state and local history, AASLH is providing services and assistance to over 5,500 institutional and individual members, as well as leadership for history and history organizations nationally. It is the only comprehensive national organization dedicated to state and local history.

AASLH is powered by a small staff out of Nashville, TN. For a full staff listing, please visit our Staff Directory.

AASLH is governed by a twenty-one-member Council elected by the membership of the Association. The Council is comprised of leaders in the field of public history, with wide-ranging specialties. Council members serve two year terms.

For a full list of the current Council members, please visit the Council Member Directory.

What We Do

We provide resources for history lovers, professionals, volunteers, and enthusiasts.

Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs): A self-paced assessment and benchmarking program designed for small-to mid-sized history organizations.

Visitors Count!: A visitor research program for medium to large museums.

Continuing Education: Numerous webinars, workshops, and online courses offered throughout the year on a wide range of subjects.

Leadership in History Awards: This annual program highlights and celebrates organizations and individuals doing “Good History.”

History Leadership Institute: Formerly “Developing History Leaders @SHA” and “Seminar for Historical Administration,” the History Leadership Institute is an intensive three-week annual seminar held by AASLH and partners to train effective leaders of history organizations.

History News Magazine: A quarterly magazine written by and for leading voices in the field. Subscription is a benefit of membership.

Technical Leaflets: Practical guides for the field on everything from deaccessioning to podcasting. Published quarterly and delivered with History News . Subscription is a benefit of membership.

Books: AASLH publishes a number of books for the field every year through Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Blog: The AASLH blog brings you updates from the field, news from AASLH, and opinions on current topics and events, written by AASLH staff and history do-ers in our community.

Resource Center: A searchable library cataloging AASLH’s numerous resources, including recorded webinars, articles, books, and more.

Job Board: Post open positions and search for jobs within the field.

As the professional association for history practitioners and institutions throughout the country, AASLH takes on a major role providing leadership and advocacy for the history field. By building coalitions around key issues, developing and monitoring best practices for the field, and advocating on behalf of the history community with public officials at the national, state, and local levels, AASLH strives to advance the field and to better position history as a critical component of American life. AASLH Advocacy and Leadership Initiatives

AASLH’s Annual Meeting is held every year in the fall. The four-day conference brings together roughly 1,000 history practitioners for a packed program of sessions, workshops, tours, and events. For more information about the Annual Meeting, visit the Annual Meeting page.