History organizations everywhere will prosper, tell everyone’s story, and be central to important conversations in their communities. As a result, the public will use historical thinking skills to actively engage with and address contemporary issues and to value history for its relevance to modern life.
This explanation of the essential importance of history was created by the History Relevance initiative and is endorsed by hundreds of organizations across the country. AASLH continues to play a lead role in the initiative and endorsed the statement in December 2014. For more information, visit the History Relevance website.
IDENTITY » History nurtures personal and collective identity in a diverse world. People discover their place in time through stories of their families, communities, and nation. These stories of freedom and equality, injustice and struggle, loss and achievement, and courage and triumph shape people’s personal values that guide them through life.
CRITICAL THINKING » History teaches vital skills. Historical thinking requires critical approaches to evidence and argument and develops contextual understanding and historical perspective, encouraging meaningful engagement with concepts like continuity, change, and causation, and the ability to interpret and communicate complex ideas clearly and coherently.
TO OUR COMMUNITIES
VIBRANT COMMUNITIES » History is the foundation for strong, vibrant communities. A place becomes a community when wrapped in human memory as told through family stories, tribal traditions, and civic commemorations as well as discussions about our roles and responsibilities to each other and the places we call home.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT » History is a catalyst for economic growth. Communities with cultural heritage institutions and a strong sense of historical character attract talent, increase tourism revenues, enhance business development, and fortify local economies.
TO OUR FUTURE
ENGAGED CITIZENS » History helps people envision a better future. Democracy thrives when individuals convene to express opinions, listen to others, and take action. Weaving history into discussions about contemporary issues clarifies differing perspectives and misperceptions, reveals complexities, grounds competing views in evidence, and introduces new ideas; all can lead to greater understanding and viable community solutions.
LEADERSHIP » History inspires leaders. History provides today’s leaders with role models as they navigate through the complexities of modern life. The stories of persons from the past can offer direction to contemporary leaders and help clarify their values and ideals.
LEGACY » History, saved and preserved, is the foundation for future generations. Historical knowledge is crucial to protecting democracy. By preserving authentic and meaningful documents, artifacts, images, stories, and places, future generations have a foundation on which to build and know what it means to be a member of the civic community.
AASLH is a membership organization comprised of individuals, agencies, and organizations acting in the public trust, engaged in the practice of history, and representing many disciplines and professions. The association and its members are expected to take affirmative steps to maintain their integrity and preserve public confidence.