2016 AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting (Detroit, MI)

The 2016 AASLH Annual Meeting is being held in partnership with the Michigan Museums Association. It will take place on September 14-17 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. General sessions are open to all registrants. You can see a full list of all ticketed workshops, tours, and events by clicking "Sessions" or going directly to "Register." Download the Full Preliminary Program.

Collectively and individually, we are constantly evolving, embracing new opportunities, and reacting to forces beyond our control. Navigating these contemporary challenges, while facing an unpredictable future, requires periodically re-thinking our direction.  In doing so, we rely on the past for context, examples, and inspiration. The role of a public historian is especially critical during times of transition.

Meanwhile, we must anticipate changes within our profession. The shifting demographics of our audiences and our offices; the increasing pressure on our finances and partnering organizations; and questions about the relevance of our work in a nation beset by discordant political dialogue all require self-reflection. We need to review the assumptions that have served us to this point, question old processes, and ponder outdated interpretations.

In the spirit of Detroit, we gather to celebrate our achievements, but with the courage to build new models for the road ahead.

Download Registration Form

AASLH/MMA 2016 Tour Spotlight: Woodward Avenue: A Road From the Past, A Path to the Future

Woodward Avenue. The iconic highway that is Michigan’s Main Street has centuries-old origins that precede the coming of pioneer settlers to the Michigan Territory in the early 19th century. A former Native American path called the Saginaw Trail, this important route led past what is now Pontiac, through Flint, and on to Saginaw, where the fish and game were so abundant that the native Ojibwe people had established large summer camps for hundreds of years.

On Wednesday, September 14 from 8:30am-1pm, attendees of the AASLH/MMA 2016 Annual Meeting in Detroit will have the chance to attend a unique guided tour of this "All American Road" and its sites of interest. Tickets are only $35 and can be purchased when you register for the Annual Meeting. More information on tours can be found in the Preliminary Program.


Woodward-Wisner House, Pontiac, MI
Woodward-Wisner House, Pontiac, MI


What we now call Woodward (and beyond Pontiac, Dixie Highway) also led the way to early settlements in the wilderness of territorial Michigan. As Michigan built its major industries during the 19th and 20th centuries, Woodward Avenue functioned as a transportation corridor, moving people and goods between Detroit and the interior. From animal carts to railroads and from carriages to automobiles, the communities along the former Saginaw Trail have become intertwined with the economic development of southeast Michigan. The boom-and-bust nature of these cycles of growth and their various incarnations make  the Woodward corridor a linear museum. However, traditional museums, historians, preservationists, and planners are entering an era that challenges us to find new, creative ways to present the narrative to provide this rich and essential context. To accomplish that, history telling has to expand beyond traditional approaches.


Fall at Pine Grove
Fall at Pine Grove


This unique program will take the concept of bus tour to a higher level. Participants will experience moving through time along the Woodward Corridor, a ‘museum without walls,’ from ancient times to the present. The path of the original Saginaw Trail will pass residential, civic, recreational and manufacturing sites that represent its cultural and economic changes including iconic religious and civic architecture, the great Boston-Edison residential district, Henry Ford’s Highland Park factory, Palmer Park, the Detroit Zoo, and the renowned Art Deco Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church.



Birmingham Historical Museum  Native American Tree Exhibit
Birmingham Historical Museum Native American Tree Exhibit


The ties of Woodward Avenue to the early auto industry will be illustrated by bedroom communities and country retreat architecture before once again leading through transportation industrial heritage in Pontiac. Local historian Carol Egbo and preservation architect Ron Campbell will share their knowledge of the area and its history along the way. Two stops at distinctly different local museums will be included:

  • The Birmingham Museum is a municipally operated small museum that has adopted a fresh look at its local heritage and culture. It currently features a popular exhibition reflecting Birmingham’s homage to the Saginaw Trail with a rare display of Native American wayfinding along the trail. Known also for the most significant public collection of rock ‘n’ roll’s iconic CREEM Magazine in the country, it also features a display that re-creates the magazine’s Birmingham offices.  Museum Director Leslie Pielack will share her perspectives of the challenges and advantages of re-branding and meeting the needs of a quickly changing public audience.
  • The Pinegrove Museum and Governor Wisner Mansion in Pontiac is a historic site operated by the Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society (organized in 1874). It includes the mid-19th century home of Moses Wisner, local vernacular buildings, and an important research library collection.  This private museum has also renewed itself through in depth strategic planning and a re-birth of its mission and approach to sustainability. Former society President Mike West will discuss the re-energizing of this private, volunteer-dependent local history organization, and how Pinegrove is using its local history to incorporate best practices successfully.

Participants will also have opportunities to interact with each other and tour leaders regarding their own institutional challenges and how they are evolving with the changing times to help tell history in new and engaging ways.

Register for the Annual Meeting

AASLH Annual Meeting: Call for Posters 2016

This year the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is holding our annual meeting in partnership with the Michigan Museums Association in Detroit, MI, on September 14-17. We are proud to be working with the National Council on Public History (NCPH) who is sponsoring the poster session at our meeting for the fourth year. This presents an excellent opportunity for students, project leaders, and small museums to share their work with fellow public historians and to discover what their peers are doing. We want to make sure that you do not miss the opportunity to participate.

The poster session format is for sharing visual or material evidence, engaging in one-on-one discussions about your project, IMG_6617and soliciting feedback about works-in-progress.

It’s also a great, low-pressure way to participate in a conference for the first time.

The Annual Meeting theme is “The Spirit of Rebirth,” and the poster session will be at the Cobo Center on Friday, September 16. Proposals are due June 1.  Poster session proposals must be submitted electronically in one PDF document and must include your contact information, a short abstract describing your project, a one-page C.V., and a mock-up of your proposed poster. IMG_6641For more details about the submission process and requirements, please carefully review the Call for Posters.

Whether you’re finishing up a project and want to share your conclusions or you’re partway through and looking for thoughts on where to go from here, the NCPH-sponsored poster session is an ideal format for students who want to get on the program at a national conference. We encourage you to submit a proposal.

UPDATE: Submission deadline has been extended to Friday, June 10!