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Commemorating America’s Semiquincentennial
Commemoration Reconsidered: Ethics, Justice, and America’s 250th Anniversary
April 27-28, 2023
The 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026, or Semiquincentennial, offers a vital opportunity to help American society progress towards justice through an inclusive approach to history and to strengthen the history field by attracting interest and investment.
AASLH is providing leadership, research, resources, and events for history doers and organizations to help them engage the public in a full history of the country as we approach this significant milestone. Our efforts include:
- Promoting a vision and goals for the anniversary that can help align the work of a diverse and dynamic field (see our foundational working group goals)
- The 2021 publication of Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial to assist local planners (learn more by clicking on the Field Guide and Themes tab to the left)
- Monitoring national, regional, and state commemoration plans for research and advocacy purposes
- Coordinating with other national initiatives, including the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and America 250, to ensure that the values and goals of the history community are represented well in national efforts
- Convening key networks, such as our 250th Anniversary Coordinating Committee, to facilitate communication and collaboration among major organizations, institutions, and agencies
- Developing professional development tools and programs to help the history community prepare for the commemoration (learn more by clicking on the Programs and Resources tab to the left)
- Summarizing and disseminating our efforts through annual reporting (read the latest annual report on AASLH’s 250th efforts)
AASLH’s 250th anniversary programs and resources are supported in part by a major grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. You can learn more here.
Field Guide and Themes
To encourage 250th anniversary programming that addresses the full sweep of our nation’s history and is relevant to present concerns, AASLH has developed Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial, a resource with guiding themes to help the history community prepare for 2026. Supported by the Mellon Foundation and created with the help of dozens of leading scholars, museum professionals, and public historians, these themes can provide cohesiveness to a multi-faceted, grassroots commemoration and entry-points for organizations all over the United States.
By exploring common questions in different contexts, this anniversary can help us advance a more widely shared story about our nation’s history, one that acknowledges its many tensions and ambiguities and that informs our present and future. Watch the 2021 launch event for the Making History at 250.
The guide’s five themes are:
- Unfinished Revolutions
- Power of Place
- We the People
- American Experiment
- Doing History
Read the guide in full to learn more about these themes.
The field guide has been sent to 20,000 practitioners nationwide. Thirteen thousand of these copies were made possible by a second printing funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
Programs and Resources
AASLH is producing a range of tools, programs, and events to help history organizations and practitioners prepare for the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026. You can find the upcoming and highlighted programs and resources below, but we encourage you to visit our 250th Anniversary Resource page for a comprehensive collections of toolkits, recordings, reports, and more.
- Virtual summit on April 27-28, 2023
- Commemoration Reconsidered: Ethics, Justice, and America’s 250th Anniversary (sponsored by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation)
- What should we commemorate, how, and why? The U.S. 250th anniversary presents an opportunity to consider lessons from the past and present as we envision a more inclusive approach to commemoration. Registration opens March 28. See the preliminary program.
- Register here.
- Webinar series on May 24, June 28, and July 19
- Interpreting the U.S. 250th at Your Site (sponsored by the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust)
- Learn interpretive planning best practices, explore the Making History at 250 Field Guide, and connect the 250th to your site. Registration opens in May.
- Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial
- Technical Leaflet #300: Forming a Local 250th Commission
- A special address on the upcoming 250th by AASLH President and CEO John Dichtl
External Funding Sources
Funding opportunities are emerging for projects and initiatives related to the Semiquincentennial. This page will be updated as new funding resources become available.
More than 30 states have already established state commissions or similar entities to lead preparations for the 250th anniversary, with several more under active consideration. These state commissions will play an important role in determining the scope and direction of the commemoration, interfacing with the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and America250, recognizing local programming, and distributing funding. From state to state, these “state commissions” take different forms, but most opt for one of two general approaches: 1) directing an existing agency/organization to lead preparation and programming, or 2) creating a new commission to plan and administer the state’s commemoration activities, with a combination of ex officio members and appointees.
This section contains the legislation or other documents related to the creation of these entities.
Last update: March 7, 2023
- Oklahoma (House and Senate)
Existing Commissions (31 states)
- Alabama created the “Alabama USA Semiquincentennial Commission” in February 2021. The Commission places Alabama’s “American Village” campus as the center of the state’s commemoration effort. Commission members will be appointed by the governor and leaders of the state legislature, with the possibility of a separate advisory committee that includes representatives from the state’s history and tourism organizations and agencies.
- Arizona established the Arizona America250 Commission in March 2022. The commission will include representatives, appointed by the governor, of the historic preservation, tourism, veterans, parks and recreation, arts, education, and business communities, as well as a representative of an recognized Indian tribe.
- Colorado passed their joint “America 250 – Colorado 150” commission in May 2022, placing it within History Colorado, the statewide history organization. It also includes an advisory panel comprised of regional tourism representatives. The commission is authorized to create additional advisory subcommittees as necessary.
- Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont created the “Connecticut Semiquincentennial Commission” through executive order on July 1, 2022. The commission will be responsible for organizing the state’s official commemoration activities and for providing aid to local institutions seeking to commemorate the Semiquincentennial. The 21-member commission includes representatives from across the state’s cultural, education, and Native communities.
- Illinois passed the Illinois America 250 in May 2022. It includes representatives from across the Illinois history and cultural community, and recommends the Commission consider the themes from the AASLH Making History at 250 Field Guide.
- Indiana established the Indiana Semiquincentennial Commission in February 2022. It includes several members appointed by the governor and legislature, representatives from major historical re-enactment and veterans groups, as well as representatives nominated by the state historical society, humanities council, museum association, social studies council, and Native American Commission.
- Kansas created the Kansas Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial within its Department of Commerce in April 2022. It includes 20 members, including state officials, legislative appointees, and representatives from various cultural, historical, and educational organizations.
- Kentucky used executive action to create a state 250th commission in 2020.
- Louisiana created a state America 250 commission in June 2022. It includes representatives from across the state’s historical and cultural community.
- Maryland established a 250th anniversary commission through an executive order from Gov. Larry Hogan in January 2021. The Commission will include up to 30 people, including the state archivist, state historic preservation officer, and chairs of commissions on African American history and culture and Indian affairs, among others.
- Massachusetts established a 250th commission through legislation in July 2021. It consists of 41 members, including representatives from statewide history and education organizations.
- Michigan designated the Historical Society of Michigan and the Michigan Historical Center as their lead organizations for 250th planning through executive action in late 2020.
- Nebraska passed legislation in May 2021 to establish a Semiquincentennial Commission housed within the Nebraska State Historical Society, led by Director & CEO Trevor Jones. The commission will include 17 members, with appointments by the Governor to include a diverse set of members across Nebraska’s three congressional districts from Native American to Latin-American public history professionals. A Semiquincentennial Commission Fund was created to receive funds appropriated by the legislature and gifts, grants, or donations from federal, state, public, and private resources.
- New Hampshire created the “American Revolution Sestercentennial Commission” in April 2022. It includes several elected officials, along with representatives from the state historical society, university, commission on Native American affairs, along with several others.
- 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.
- New York created the New York State 250th Commemoration Commission through legislation in December 2021. It includes the New York State historian as well as representatives with expertise in history, museums, education, and other fields.
- 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.
- North Dakota passed legislation in April 2021 creating their America 250 Commission housed within the North Dakota State Historical Society chaired by the historical society representative. The commission will be comprised of 13 members including a representative from each congressional district and collaboration with the State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The commission will be funded through both public and private resources, with appropriations from general funds to jumpstart preparations.
- Ohio established its state 250th commission in June 2021, consisting of a combination of political appointees and representatives from relevant state agencies.
- 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.
- Rhode Island formed a state commission through legislation in June 2021. “RI 250” includes 30 members, a mix of private citizens and government officials, including representatives from the state’s history and historic preservation communities.
- 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 African-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.” The Commission is encouraging counties to set up local committees and history organizations are urged to be involved in these committees. The Commission’s website has a handbook and steps for creating a local committee and offers grants to do so.
- South Dakota formed the America 250 Executive Committee and started meeting in 2022.
- 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.
- Texas has established the Texas America 250 Commission through legislation passed in May 2021 consisting of members from the Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the State Board of Education, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and other related historical organizations in addition to federal designees residing in Texas. Funding will be provided exclusively through donations and federal funds.
- Utah passed a resolution in 2020 recognizing the U.S. Semiquincentennial and requesting that the Governor organizes a state commission to observe the anniversary.
- Vermont created a 250th anniversary commission through an executive order from Gov. Phil Scott. The Vermont Commission will include up to 14 members, including the state historic preservation officer, state librarian, representative of the Vermont Historical Society, along with members of the public appointed by the governor, stipulated to include a representative from a Vermont history museum, a Revolutionary War historian, a Revolutionary War reenactment group, and a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.
- Virginia has a state 250th commission that recognizes a state agency (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation) and private organization (Virginia Museum of History and Culture) as the state’s lead entities for 250th planning. It includes representatives of both organizations, other private citizens, and several ex-officio members.
- Washington established its Semiquincentennial Committee in March 2022. Its membership includes members appointed by the governor and legislature, as well as members nominated by the Washington State Historical Society; regional history groups and historic preservation groups; state commissions on African American, Hispanic, Asian American, affairs; and LGBTQ and women’s commissions. The Washington State Historical Society will serve as the administrator of the committee.
- West Virginia created the West Virginia Semiquincentennial Commission in March 2021. West Virginia’s commission consists of 24 members that include 10 members appointed by the governor, and 14 ex-officio members consisting of legislators, state officials, a member of the Sons of the Revolution, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the members of the West Virginia congressional delegation.
- Wisconsin created the state’s 250th commission in December 2021. It includes representatives from the state historical society, veterans museum, among other private citizens and government representatives.