#AASLHchat on Twitter: Issues Facing Emerging History Professionals

On November 1 at 7:30pm cdt/ 8:30 est, AASLH will hold a #AASLHchat on Twitter. This chat will be guest-hosted by the Emerging History Professionals Affinity Community, and the topic will be “Issues Facing Emerging Professionals."

To participate in the open chat, just watch the AASLH Twitter account (@AASLH) and/or the hashtag #AASLHchat at the chat time. Specific prompts will be given at that time. Anyone is welcome to participate in the conversation.

What's a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is a public conversation held at a specific time around a designated hashtag. This open-access platform allows interested people and organizations to discuss a set of prompts given by the chat host.

What is the EHP Affinity Community

The AASLH Emerging History Professionals (EHP) Affinity Community supports, connects, and unites the newest generation of state and local history practitioners.

Learn more: http://community.aaslh.org/ehp/

Top Takeaways from the #AASLHMMA2016 Mentoring Roundtable


Thank you to everyone who joined us in Detroit for our Emerging History Professionals Mentoring Roundtable (and for our Happy Hour aftewards, pictured above). As we reflect on our experiences in Detroit we would like to send a special thanks to the leaders from across the country who made for an engaging discussion. Mentors are involved in everything from museum education and administration to programming and community engagement. Mentors were from local history museums on up to the National Park Service.

Here are the top 8 tips and tid-bits we overheard during our session:

  1. Grow. Look for places where you can grow and learn new things. Do not be afraid to try new positions, network, or get involved in professional organizations. Be open to all experiences in the museum field.
  2. Have a Passion. What excites you about working in the history field? Is it museums? Teaching? Objects? Identify what your passion is and learn all you can about it.
  3. Network. It is a small field. Make sure to take advantage of every opportunity to form relationships in the present and future. Network formally and informally. Conferences provide ample time to meet new people, be sure to take advantage of happy hours, evening events, and coffee breaks in the exhibit hall.
  4. Reach Out. Do not be afraid to have a discussion with those you look up to in the field. Write an email or pick up the phone, introduce yourself and ask if you could set up a time to ask them some questions about their work or career path.
  5. Be Diverse. What do you do when you leave work? We all need hobbies and interests outside work. What is yours? Employers what to know what you are like as a person and see that you do more than just go to work.
  6. Jobs. There are a lot of opportunities for emerging history professionals to enter into the history field. There are museums and cultural institutions across the country and the world. AASLH updates their Career Center weekly. (http://jobs.aaslh.org/)
  7. Remember, at the end of the day you are not alone. There are a variety of resources available to emerging professionals in many of the professional history organizations.
  8. Pool Noodles are Archival Safe. Thanks to our Field Services Alliance rep for this fun fact.


Callie Hawkins, Associate Director for Programs at Lincoln's Cottage, introducing herself before the roundtable begins.
Our panelists introducing themselves before the roundtable begins.


As an affinity community our goals include providing support and professional development opportunities for emerging history professionals and creating and maintaining physical and digital spaces where EHPs can meet, discuss ideas, and network. We hope these tips will help you navigate your way as an emerging history professional. See you next year at the 2017 AASLH Annual  Meeting in Austin! Did we miss anything? Comment below with more tips.

The Emerging History Professionals' Guide to the 2016 AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting

The Emerging History Professionals Affinity Community has created an "EHP Track" for any students and new professionals attending the 2016 Annual Meeting. Bring the guide to the meeting or use it to plan your sessions ahead of time.

Three things to make special note of:

1. The EHP Committee Meeting is open to anyone interested in getting more involved in the group. It starts at 3pm on Thursday.

2. Don't miss the Mentoring Round Table at 4pm on Thursday! We've recruited a great group of middle-career professionals to discuss their career paths and answer any questions you may have.

3. The History Happy Hour! Join use for drinks and no-pressure socializing at the Grand Trunk Pub at 5:45pm Thursday.


[gview file="https://cdn.aaslh.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2016/08/EHP-Guide-to-the-Annual-meeting.pdf"]

To All the Job Seekers Out There...A Little Advice

To All the Job Seekers Out There

I know there is a lot of advice on the World Wide Web about job seeking, but I wanted to put in my two-cents as someone who does hiring in the realm of history education and interpretation.

It is not an easy job market for the new museum and history professionals, and I am afraid it is breeding bad habits when it comes to finding that first full time job. I have been seeing patterns that are more harmful than helpful to potential candidates.

So let me apologize for this being part advice, part personal therapy (for me). I hope it helps some of the job seekers out there. Also embedded in this post is my personal quest to make the cover letters of the world better, smarter, and concise.


Miraculous help

#1 Be smart, don’t apply for everything.

This is hard not to do, but don’t apply for EVERYTHING. I see this tendency and as a hiring manager and it looks like the applicant does not understand the job description. Chances are that a name may come across my desk again and may be remembered as the person who applies for everything, no matter what. Don’t be that person!

From an education and interpretation perspective, the types of audience the job engages with should align to your background and experience. If the job is about managing a docent program and you have been developing programs for a P-12 audience, this might not be the right fit. There is always a case to be made for transferrable experiences. Maybe you see a really clear connection between your skills in the P-12 world and docent management. Then you need to make a very clear, concise, and intelligent argument for that in your cover letter. If you feel like it’s a stretch- that making the case that you fit for this job is partially fiction- that is apparent to a hiring manager.

Sometimes I have management level jobs that are asking for years of experience and receive applications from people who are seeking their first job. This is also a mistake in matching skills and experience with potential jobs. I know the market is tough, but applying to something this far out of your reach is not the best use of your time. This is a small field, everyone knows everyone but two degrees, and you want to show your competence in how you match yourself to potential jobs.




#2 Pay attention to the facts and details.

There is a lot written about cover letters (including this recent post on the AASLH blog by Janice Klein) and they are so important! As I mentioned above it is your chance to (briefly!) state why you and this job are meant to be.

If you are applying for lots of jobs be EXTRA careful that you don’t leave in an incorrect title or organization name. Our organization changed its name a few years ago and it jumps out when applicants do not have the new name in their cover letters.

Do your homework and show that you’ve taken the effort to look into the organization, its mission, and programs.

Don’t spend a lot of time figuring out whom to address the cover letter. Do not make the mistake of assuming it is a “sir.” I don’t mind being called “hiring committee” or “to whom it may concern;” I do hate being called “sir.”

Don’t go crazy with the formatting or the fancy paper. Many places send out resumes electronically so any time spent making the paper look nice is unnecessary. Weird formatting takes away from your brilliantly crafted message.

If the job posting asks you do send in certain items, be sure to send them in and show you can follow instructions. Our postings ask for a job application, resume, and cover letter and often one of those is missing. Read carefully to make sure you know what the hiring organization is looking for. This may seem obvious, but the number of mistakes I see in this area are very high.

#3 Know yourself and know how to talk about your skills.

This point is related to the first two and my continued quest to make the world’s cover letters better.

When you have found a job posting that fits your skills, know how to craft that connection (briefly!) in your cover letter, but also tweak your resume or CV to reflect the language in the job posting.

From an education and interpretation perspective, take a look at their website and see what language the organization uses around learning or education and reflect that in your application materials. We often may use the same types of tools, we might just have different vocabulary for those tools. Does the organization have a statement of learning or education philosophy? Try to make it apparent how your skills and expertise would forward the mission and the values of the organization.

In conclusion, applying for a job, requires more strategy and time then it may seem. Refining the resume is not the only step, it is a small piece of a bigger puzzle. And remember, that even if you do not get this job, this is still your first impression with an organization or a manager who could come into your life down the road.

Pond-Hopping: How Working Abroad Can Improve Your Local History Practice

Would you like to travel the world? Not for one or two weeks, but for a year, or possibly two. It’s possible to cross the globe as a public historian. Currently, the National Council for Public History’s job board lists five openings in Canada, two in the United Kingdom, and one in Saudi Arabia. Last month, NCPH advertised openings in Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. But why am I writing all of this here?


You probably joined AASLH because of an interest in local history and may be wondering why I’m writing about international employment. Anytime we find ourselves working long hours in a specific locale, we risk losing the creativity and clarity that comes from being an outsider. It benefits you professionally to observe other local historians at work. In foreign countries, differences in professional practice can seem more frequent and pronounced. Working abroad is a learning experience, and I’m not the only local historian who believes an international perspective would benefit our work in the States. Noted columnist Carol Kammen, in the Autumn 2015 edition of AASLH’s History News, discussed “Doing Local History Across the Pond.” Let me take an example from my work experiences abroad.


Ethan at work in the UK
Ethan at work in the UK

For much of this year, I completed an internship with England’s National Trust, one of the UK’s largest historic preservation organizations. I accepted the internship because of my interest in fundraising. In graduate school in Middle Tennessee, I helped several local organizations raise money for additional exhibits and programs. In most cases, organizational budgets were small and the donors lived in the community. I rarely gave serious thought to applying for something as large as a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. An NEH grant seemed too complicated, and the organizations I worked with did not have the staff or resources necessary to apply for and implement an NEH grant.

Work in England, however, gave me a new perspective. While in the UK, I helped a local organization apply for a national grant. The National Trust wanted to make where I worked, Seaton Delaval Hall, a model of community involvement. The Trust threw the weight of the national organization behind the initiative, and I had the opportunity to work with the Trust’s grant writers on a £7.5 million ($10 million) funding bid to the national Heritage Lottery Fund. I never dreamed that I would get to learn about writing national grants while working at a small historic home. Yet, the Trust’s national administrators are extremely connected to their regional and local staff. It was an opportunity I don’t know I would have had if I had remained in the States. It gave me a depth of knowledge I can put to good use as I return to the States to continue helping local organizations raise money to achieve their goals. While I benefited from the experience as a fundraiser, I’m sure public programmers, curators, archivists, and others can benefit from the experience as well. The only way to know is hop on a plane and find out.

AASLH/MMA 2016: Host Committee Offering 10 Fellowships for Minority Professionals to Attend the Conference

The 2016 AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting Host Committee is pleased to offer ten fellowships to minority professionals to increase culturally diverse participation at the AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting (September 14-17). The $500 scholarship will be provided to cover the annual meeting registration fee and additional meeting events or travel and hotel expenses. Applicants must explain how their participation in the Annual Meeting will benefit their professional development and their organization.

To apply, submit your application online by July 1, 2016.

Apply now!

For questions regarding the application, contact Aja Bain at AASLH: abain@aaslh.org or 615-320-3203.

Improving the Emerging Professional Experience at the AASLH Annual Meeting

Are you an emerging history professional who plans to attend AASLH's 2016 annual meeting in the Motor City (Detroit)? If so, the AASLH Emerging History Professionals (EHP) Affinity Community has three initiatives that may interest you. Read on to learn how the EHP committee is working to enhance the experience of AASLH's EHP members at this year's annual meeting.

First, if you're looking for a conference roommate or ride share buddy, check out our new room and ride share forum before you make your travel and hotel arrangements. We're launching it in the next couple of weeks, so be on the lookout for an announcement from AASLH. On the forum, you'll be able to connect with other AASLH members looking for conference hotel roommates, as well as people looking for travel companions or carpool buddies. If you live in or around Detroit, you can also use the forum to offer an extra room or comfortable couch to a fellow AASLH member.

Detroit Cadillac Square btw 1910 and 1920
Detroit’s Cadillac Square between 1910 and 1920. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In addition, the EHP committee will provide an EHP guide to the annual meeting. The EHP guide will highlight meeting sessions and activities that focus on issues or projects with particular significance to the EHP community. Ask for it at the registration desk when you pick up your badge or peruse it on our blog from your smartphone. For your planning purposes, we'll post the guide to our blog in advance of the annual meeting.

The number one do-not-miss event on the EHP annual meeting guide will be the EHP mentoring session. Designed and run by us, your EHP committee, this session will provide EHPs with a chance to speak with seasoned professionals working in a range of fields related to state and local history, as well as a space in which to meet and connect with fellow EHPs. Have a professional goal but aren't sure how to meet it? Want to know more about a particular field and how to break into it? Feel free to ask these and other questions at the EHP mentoring session.

We're excited to share the EHP guide and mentoring session with you, and we hope you can use the forum to reduce conference-related costs. Be sure to check our blog and Twitter account between now and September for news and updates. See you in Detroit!

AASLH Launches New Membership Category for Academic Programs

We are excited to announce a brand new membership category for Academic Programs. 

This membership for Public History, Museum Studies, and related programs is designed to give faculty and their students maximum access to AASLH resources, opportunities, and training materials.

APM CoverOne $310 annual fee gives faculty and their students all the benefits of AASLH membership plus extra benefits only available to this membership type.

With an expansive benefits package designed for the unique needs of faculty and students, this membership gives programs the tools to enhance student experiences and prepare graduates for the job market.

Membership benefits include unlimited free downloads of recorded webinarsHistory News magazine (last 3 years), and Technical Leaflets; low multi-login rate for the Online Conference; access to the online community for AASLH's Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs); member prices on all live Continuing Education events; discounts on advertising for programs; reduced prices on the New Professional membership for program graduates; and more.

Download the Academic Program Membership Handbook for a Full List of Benefits

The Academic Program Membership is set up so program staff can easily add and remove faculty and students as needed in our new, user-friendly member database. The membership covers up to five faculty members and fifty students.


Download the Handbook
Join Now


For more information or for assistance signing up for this membership type, contact Hannah Hethmon: hethmon@aaslh.org or 615-320-3203.

8 Ways to Keep History Relevant

We have all talked about it.

Children are not learning enough about history in schools. Leaders rarely look at history to make informed decisions. With the growing concentration on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), there is an equally growing weariness that history is too often pushed to the side. Where will our children learn about where they come from, about diversity and empathy?

HRC History Relevance Campaing LogoAs emerging history professionals, history is central to our lives. It is our work and our passion, and it ought to play a greater role in the lives of our communities and nation.

We have all talked about this issue. So, why not start doing something about it?

Thankfully, there is a group of people who are and you can join them. The History Relevance Campaign (HRC) is a grassroots movement made up of individuals working to make history a necessity. At the center of the HRC is the Value of History statement, a list of seven ways that history is essential to ourselves, to our communities, and to our future.

8 Ways to Help Keep History Relevant:

  1. Read the Value of History statement and use it to inform your own understanding of history’s relevance.
  2. Take a leadership role and seek formal endorsement of the Value of History statement by your organization. If you are a student, talk to the chair of your department about the statement. If you are a young professional, an intern, or a volunteer, talk to your supervisor.
  3. Commit to incorporating the Values into your work. Talk about them when strategic planning for your organization. Include them in your teaching statement.
  4. Spread the word. Start conversations with friends, colleagues, neighbors, or fellow students about the value of history and share insight. Talk about the Values in a class that you’re teaching or in a graduate student meeting.
  5. Share your story. Talk about how you incorporating the Values into your work. Send out social media messages about the importance and relevance of history.
  6. Continue the conversation on LinkedIn by joining the HRC group.
  7. Really motivated by the thought of making history more relevant? Contribute your time and talents to an HRC task force. They are always looking for help and there are multiple task forces that you can join based on your interests: Marketing, K-20 Education, Impact Project, and more. Learn more about how you can get involved.  
  8. Follow the History Relevance Campaign (@historycampaign) on Twitter.