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 and aspirations are the currents that run 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 promotes the relevance of history.

  • Insists on history rather than heritage, on the provocative rather than the palliative
  • Identifies history as the essential shaper of the present and as context for each individual
  • Recognizes history as always complex, often contested
  • Promotes the methods of history and historical thinking

AASLH acts to build diversity and inclusiveness.

  • Finds the creativity, the resources and the will to change (internally) and advances diversity and inclusiveness in the history field
  • Recognizes and defines the inequities in the history/cultural profession and addresses them by dedicating intellectual, financial, emotional and structural resources for building a diverse and inclusive field
  • Seeks to develop the capacity of member organizations and for itself to build relationships based on mutual trust, balance of power, and recognition of expertise within diverse communities to democratize the historical narrative and sustain the relevance of history organizations to a rapidly changing demographic
  • Collaborates with organizations that have successfully developed inclusive policies and programming
  • Encourages telling the stories that have not been told

AASLH cultivates an experimental and creative spirit within AASLH and among constituents and partners.

  • Leads, models, and is a source for imaginative problem solving, openness, and resourcefulness, while also looking to other fields for inspiration
  • Supports a culture of creativity and informed risk-taking in its programs and publications
  • Encourages constituents and partners to create laboratories for new methods of attracting and engaging audiences, members, and funders, understanding that failure is an inherent part of experimentation
  • Cultivates and supports knowledge-sharing among constituents and partners, encouraging honest reporting and analysis of programmatic and managerial experiments, so that we can all learn from each other’s creative efforts, successes, and disappointments
  • Models an adaptive and nimble, yet reflective, culture to address change and quickly take advantage of opportunities

AASLH strengthens organizational sustainability and transparency.

  • Operates efficiently, ethically, legally, transparently, and with good stewardship toward the environment
  • Promotes the capacity of other historical organizations to do the same
  • By being transparent and consistent, membership and the larger community will see our motives and learn to rely on us
  • Will be a role model for other non-profits in financial decisions, processes, and reporting

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.