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Webinar: History Relevance Coffee Break with Detroit Historical Society

Take a coffee break to think about the relevance of history with Kalisha Davis of Detroit Historical Society and Max van Balgooy of Engaging Places, LLC and the History Relevance Initiative. During this thirty minute interview and Q&A session, Kalisha and Max will discuss Detroit Historical Society's ongoing project Detroit '67: Looking Back to Move ForwardThey will focus in particular on how to build and sustain relationships with individuals and institutions in your community.

This webinar is part of the History Relevance Coffee Break webinar series. Each webinar in this short-form series showcases projects by history organizations that are making history relevant to their communities in meaningful, measurable, and replicable ways. Webinar participants will glean practical tips for how organizations can connect issues of the past to issues of the present and meet their relevance goals.


DATE: May 9, 2019

TIME: 3:00 – 3:30 pm EASTERN (Remember to adjust for your time zone!)

COST: Free AASLH Members / $5 Non-members

Closed captioning available upon advanced notice. Please contact for more information.


Description and Outcomes:

Participant Outcomes:

  • Learn how Detroit Historical Society makes history relevant in measurable and replicable ways
  • Feel motivated to think creatively about how they can make history relevant through projects at their own institution
  • Learn practical tips for how organizations can connect issues of the past to issues of the present


  • Kalisha Davis, Director of Community Outreach & Engagement, Detroit Historical Society
  • Max van Balgooy, Principal, Engaging Places, LLC; Steering Committee Member, History Relevance

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Webinar: History Relevance Coffee Break with Ford's Theatre

Been noodling on a sticky problem without a clear solution? Ford’s Theatre staff have long been batting around ideas on how to make history more relevant to the 235,000 students who visit the site every year. Working with strategist/evaluator Kate Haley Goldman, Ford’s Theatre did a series of six week-long sprints to build rough prototypes of some of these ideas and test them with actual students on-site. Join Associate Director for Interpretive Resources David McKenzie in a focused discussion with History Relevance initiative standing committee member Conny Graft to learn about the successes and lessons learned in this exhausting, but exhilarating, exercise in human-centered design.

This webinar is part of the History Relevance Coffee Break webinar series. Each webinar in this short-form series showcases projects by history organizations that are making history relevant to their communities in meaningful, measurable, and replicable ways. Webinar participants will glean practical tips for how organizations can connect issues of the past to issues of the present and meet their relevance goals.


DATE: Thursday, December 13, 2018

TIME: 3:00 – 3:30 pm EASTERN (Remember to adjust for your time zone!)

COST: $Free Members / $5 Non-members

Closed captioning available upon advanced notice. Please contact for more information.


Description and Outcomes:

Interview Questions:

  • Tell us about how you connected issues of the past with issues of the present?
  • What were some of the challenges you faced in implementing this project?
  • What did you learn from the evaluation of your project?
  • Based on your experience making history relevant through this project, what are the three most important suggestions you have for others working to make history relevant at their institutions?

Participant Outcomes:

  • Learn how Ford's Theatre makes history relevant in measurable and replicable ways
  • Feel inspired by the featured organization to endorse the Value of History Statement
  • Feel inspired to employ formal survey and evaluation techniques when evaluating the success of their projects
  • Feel motivated to think creatively about how they can make history relevant through projects at their own institution
  • Learn practical tips for how organizations can connect issues of the past to issues of the presents


  • Conny Graft, Steering Committee Member, History Relevance Initiative
  • David McKenzie, Associate Director for Interpretive Resources, Ford's Theatre

Against a black rectangular background sit, from left to right, a white microphone icon and white text reading

New Webinar Series: History Relevance Coffee Breaks

Against a black rectangular background sit, from left to right, a white microphone icon and white text reading"History Relevance Coffee Break." Below the black rectangle are the AASLH logo, a collection of circles and "AASLH" written in green text, and the History Relevance logo, writing in blue text.AASLH, in partnership with the History Relevance initiative, is proud to present a new webinar series: History Relevance Coffee Breaks. This short-form webinar series showcases projects by history organizations that are making history relevant to their communities in meaningful, measurable, and replicable ways. In an interview facilitated by a member of the History Relevance initiative steering committee, featured organizations and endorsers of the Value of History Statement share the challenges faced and lessons learned in the development of projects that helped them meet their relevance goals.

Participants of History Relevance Coffee Break webinars will gain practical tips for how organizations can connect issues of the past to issues of the present. Each webinar will aim to meet five participant outcomes. Participants will:

  • learn how the featured organization makes history relevant in measurable and replicable ways
  • feel inspired by the featured organization to endorse the Value of History Statement
  • feel inspired to employ formal survey and evaluation techniques when evaluating the success of their projects
  • feel motivated to think creatively about how they can make history relevant through projects at their own institution
  • learn practical tips for how organizations can connect issues of the past to issues of the present

Each webinar in the History Relevance Coffee Break series is free for members and only $5 for nonmembers!

Please join us for our first History Relevance Coffee Break webinars this year:

  • Thursday, November 29 from 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST with Gwen Whiting of the Washington State Historical Society. Gwen will share takeaways from her organization's work relating past stories of immigration to immigration today through a new permanent exhibit, “Washington, My Home.”
    Learn More

  • Thursday, December 13 from 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST with David McKenzie of Ford’s Theatre. David will discuss how Ford’s Theatre’s prototyping "sprints" have influenced their efforts to connect the past to the present.
    Learn More

History Relevance in Canada

Tim Grove is Chief of Museum Learning at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a founding member of the History Relevance initiative, and Chair of the Program Committee for AASLH’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Kansas City, “Truth or Consequences.” This post also appears on the National Council on Public History's History@Work blog.

Photo: Brittany Gawley

Recently I ended a trip to Canada a bit jealous that Canadians have figured out how to give history a national spotlight, something that has proven more elusive in the United States. While we do find ways to award excellence in history, they are not concentrated and diverse and on such a national stage.

I had been invited to Canada to represent the History Relevance initiative and to share a little of the history, motivations, and goals of this national effort. Stephanie Rowe, executive director of the National Council on Public History, and I participated in several events during Canada History Week 2017, an annual showcase of Canada’s rich history. Three big events of the week revolved around the Governor General’s History Award winners from across the nation.

Janet Walker, president and CEO of Canada’s History, the organizer of the event, welcomed everyone, saying “History is essential for understanding the complex issues that face us today. As individuals, communities, and nations, we engage with the past to help navigate the present and contemplate the future. History stimulates us to be thinkers, innovators, leaders, and engaged citizens.”

At the Canada’s History Forum, held at the Canadian Museum of History and hosted in collaboration with NCPH, the theme was “Making History Relevant.” In my presentation during the morning session, I discussed why History Relevance was founded and how it produced the Value of History Statement. In particular, I emphasized the effort within History Relevance to strengthen history’s “brand,” using the Value of History Statement to develop and share a common language for use by history practitioners. I also highlighted the need to gather solid data to show effective history projects that impact their communities. Other speakers included Jean-Pierre Marin, staff historian for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and former NCPH board member, Andrea Eidinger, creator and editor of the blog Unwritten Histories, Dominique Trudeau, head of education at the McCord Museum in Montreal, and Lindsay Gibson, assistant professor of social studies education at the University of Alberta and participant in the Historical Thinking Project. All speakers highlighted the challenges of presenting complex history.

The evening featured a gala dinner in the great hall of the Canadian Museum of History, next to the towering totems. The enthusiastic guests included the history award winners, members of Parliament (MPs) and the museum’s president and CEO. The day before the award winners had traveled to Parliament Hill to meet with MPs, less to advocate than to brag about their projects.

Credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, OSGG

The second day was the big awards ceremony at Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada’s governor general, the Queen’s representative. Governor General Julie Payette, a former astronaut, presided over the formal ceremony that honored students, teachers, authors, and public historians for their excellence in making history accessible to Canadians. Their ages ranged from about seven to seventy. Eight teachers received awards, including a teacher whose students created a museum that has grown to six hundred items and one thousand visitors, two teachers who created an oral history program matching students with veterans, and two teachers who developed a program for high school students at the First Nations University of Canada focused on treaty history and education. Museum practitioners were honored for opening a new permanent gallery called Hodul’eh-a—A Place of Learning in the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre in Prince George, British Columbia. This gallery is a model for how Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities can work together to preserve, understand, and respect Indigenous history and experiences. Exploration Place  is located within Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park—the site of the traditional hunting grounds and village for the Lheidli T’enneh Nation.

Thinking back on my visit to Ottawa, I am encouraged by the potential power of shared efforts and common goals. The history communities in both countries strive to demonstrate history’s relevance and the power of teaching historical thinking skills. The Historical Thinking Project is a national Canadian effort to give attention to promoting critical historical literacy in the twenty-first century at learning venues across Canada. As Stephanie Rowe said in her opening and closing remarks for the Forum, “we hope this is just the beginning of more collaboration between public historians in the US and Canada. There are many of us working to move the study of history from nice to essential and our efforts will only be strengthened by our awareness of one another and our efforts to work together.” I also invited attendees to ask their organizations to endorse History Relevance’s Value of History Statement and actively articulate the seven values it features. Together, we can work to raise the profile of history.

New Year Update from the History Relevance Campaign


For the past four years, History Relevance has been creating united voice in the history field. Our ultimate goal is that people will value history for its relevance to modern life and use historical thinking skills to actively engage with and address contemporary issues. I am one of the volunteers from many organizations that help run the History Relevance effort, and I serve on its Executive Committee and Steering Committee.

The message below is an annual update about History Relevance activities.

-John Dichtl
AASLH President & CEO

New Year Update from the History Relevance Campaign

The value of history – both understanding historical events and the process by which we analyze them – has been demonstrated many times in 2016. The skill at the very core of the research process, critical thinking, cannot be overemphasized in today’s society. Evidenced-based inquiry and discussion is more important than ever.

The History Relevance Campaign was busy in 2016.

We held an evening event during AAM’s Museum Advocacy Day and introduced more organizations to our efforts.

We gave several presentations at state, regional, and national conferences.

In May we convened a gathering at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and heard from Richard Kurin, Acting Provost of the Smithsonian.


The History Relevance Steering Committee meeting at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, February 2016.
The History Relevance Steering Committee meeting at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, February 2016.

And in October we convened a meeting at the National Archives and heard from Archivist of the US David Ferriero who said he is a fan of HRC’s work.

Both meetings gathered representatives from organizations with national scope, including American Alliance of Museums, National Park Service, National Archives, Library of Congress, Smithsonian, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Coalition for History, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Civil War Trust, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Center for History and New Media, National History Day, and others.

A direct result of the May meeting was a renewed emphasis on development of a template to measure impact of history organizations, and this effort became the primary focus of the October meeting.


The October 2016 History Relevance meeting.
The October 2016 History Relevance meeting.

We are exploring options for a grant to create this set of common metrics for measuring the impact of history organizations, and have been drafting proposals and speaking with national and local partners.

This month HRC will debut a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for tools and news to share the work of HRC.

We continue to build a relationship with the National Governors Association.

We’ve begun a collaboration with LINK Strategic Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm, to create a communications plan to help the field be more strategic about how we talk about history. We’re grateful for LINK’s shared vision and generosity in donating their skills and time.

The HRC steering committee is comprised of sixteen members who represent a variety of history organizations that span the breadth of the country.  Several new members were added this past year.


John Dichtl and other members of the Historic Relevance Campaign Steering Committee meet in DC in October 2016
AASLH's John Dichtl and other members of the History Relevance Campaign Steering Committee meet in DC in October 2016

The number keeps growing.

Over 150 organizations and counting have endorsed the HRC Value of History statement, including the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, the National Humanities Alliance, and Conner Prairie. Check the full list at and please invite organizations to sign on.

We encourage you to challenge your colleagues in history to use the language in the Value statement. Please also share any successful ways that you have employed the Value statement.

Here are two elegant videos by state historical societies that incorporate the Value statement:

Made by History

History Is Essential

Happy 2017!

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Report on Recent Initiatives of the History Relevance Campaign


The National Archives hosted the second History Relevance Campaign (HRC) meeting with Washington D.C. area history organizations on Monday, October 17.  David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, welcomed the group of nearly fifty representatives from organizations ranging from the Smithsonian Institution to state historical societies and academic associations to the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he expressed his enthusiastic support for the work of the HRC in elevating history at the local, state, and national levels. The National Archives endorsed the HRC’s Value of History Statement this past spring, joining the 150 other organizations and groups who have endorsed it.

The HRC is the nearly four-year-old effort of a diverse group of history professionals working to raise the profile of history in American society. The HRC recognizes that history organizations are not always as articulate as they need to be in demonstrating their relevance, which leads to diminished support, both public and private. The history professionals who make up the HRC seek to remedy this problem by making the public more aware of the value of history through their advocacy efforts and by providing history organizations and groups with the tools they need to effectively articulate their work and successes.


During the May HRC meeting hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, participants agreed that helping history organizations demonstrate the value of their programming should be a priority of the HRC. To that end, the Steering Committee, made up of representatives from twenty-three organizations, began work on the Common Metrics project, which then was the focus of the October 17 meeting.

Many of the attendees at that meeting were from organizations that had participated in the May meeting. Also in attendance was Tim Wisniewski of LINK Strategic Partners, which is providing the HRC pro-bono marketing assistance.

Attendees spent the bulk of the day-long meeting discussing the “Common Metrics – Assessing Our Work with the Values of History” project, which will ultimately provide history organizations with tools to more effectively demonstrate to stakeholders and funders their impact on both individuals and their communities. Randi Korn of Randi Korn and Associates and steering committee member Conny Graft of Conny Graft Research and Evaluationlaid out a framework for the proposed project, which consists of using the seven values articulated in the Value of History statement or the HRC impact statement as the basis for creating tools to assess impact. Participants were enthusiastic about the prospect of such tools being made available and offered the HRC feedback on how the project could be nuanced to be broadly useful for a wide range of history organizations, groups, and programs. The group also discussed possible funding options and timetables.

The October 17 meeting also featured a presentation by Kelly Osborn on NARA’s newest initiative—the History Hub, a web-based, crowd-sourced history resource. The History Hub allows users to ask and answer questions related to research. For more information on the History Hub and to participate, please visit

Participants were invited to explore NARA’s new exhibit “Amending America,” a look at both proposed and enacted amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Curator Christine Blackerby provided a behind-the-scenes look at the artifacts on display as well as information about the creation of the exhibit.

For more information about the History Relevance Campaign, visit We encourage all history organizations to consider endorsing the Value of History statement and to start using its language with their many audiences. The HRC also seeks volunteers to join its task forces and to offer suggestions for new projects.


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Getting Schooled in History Relevance by Hamilton


I am really late to the party. I just listened to the Hamilton: An American Musical for the first time last week. As a history geek AND a theatre geek, I snootily assumed (wrongly) that this musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda couldn’t possibly live up to the incredible hype it has received over the last year. I was very wrong as most of my Facebook friends would have told me if I had admitted on social media that I had not yet listened to this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.

Hamilton: An American Musical is a case study in making history relevant to all people. Some historians have questioned the “race conscious casting” of the production, but most agree that the history presented in Hamilton is pretty good (although some called it fanfic). The National Council on Public History recently published articles and reviews of the play by noted historians like Annette Gordon Reed which doesn’t happen with every musical with a historical bent.

Photo by Debbie Shaw Plattsmier. Used by permission.
Photo by Debbie Shaw Plattsmier. Used by permission.

I argue that the real contribution of Hamilton to the field of history is that it takes a story about a historical figure that no one really cared about any more and made him a rock star by making history relevant to today’s world. The History Relevance Campaign states that one of the Values of History is identity. The Value of History statement reads, “History nurtures personal identity in an intercultural world.  History enables people to discover their own place in the stories of their families, communities, and nation.” Hamilton is a textbook example of this value.

As I listened to the soundtrack in its entirety for the eighteenth time (at least), I was struck with some lessons in making history relevant that this Broadway smash could offer to those of us who engage the public on a regular basis in our museums, historic sites, and other history organizations.

Do Your Research – Miranda makes masterful use of primary sources in his lyrics. He intertwines historical words with music and modern lyrics offering a new way of looking at late 18th-century documents. It also makes the history of the play ring true by adding authenticity to the story. Have you read the primary sources related to your interpretation lately? If not, give it a try as you might find something new that can add a new perspective to your story. Also, make time to do new research. Historians at history organizations don’t often have the luxury of doing historical research (which is why we went into the field in the first place). Carve out some time to return to your “first love” and get back into the library/archives/Internet to find some new stories or gain a new perspective for your interpretation.

Connect Your Audience to Their History – Is there a story in your historic site or history museum that people can connect to the present? Most people would probably say no. The Uncatalogued Museum published a blog post several years ago called “What Makes Historic House Tours So Boring.” One historic site director interviewed for that blog described a major barrier to the typical house tour as "Lack of any redeeming connection to the present individual HHM visitor–almost every house tour I've ever been on is structured like this: A) this is the home of Wealthy McMillionare who was so gracious as to have left us his home as a museum, or his home was rescued from destruction by a patriotic women's organization. B) Here is his sideboard, bed, fancy china, chamber pot, fireplace, etc. C) "back then" everything was different D) Thank you for visiting."

How can we connect individuals to their history using our stories? Miranda connected to the story of Alexander Hamilton while reading Ron Chernow’s biography (while on a beach vacation) because he connected to the story of an immigrant who came to New York and rose up out of his circumstances. Miranda is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in the Washington Heights in New York City, whereas, Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean who moved to New York and made a name for himself. This connection led him to want to share Hamilton’s story.


What stories can we tell at our sites that will connect our stories with new audiences? Like Hamilton, is there an immigration story? One story at the historic site I worked at before AASLH that connected to many people was that of stepfamilies. I enjoyed seeing children connecting to the story of a blended family from the 19th century. It was not the main narrative of the site, but maybe it should have been if we wanted to truly connect the young kids on a field trip to the past.

Don’t Ignore the Dirty Laundry – This is one of my favorite aspects of Hamilton. Who doesn’t like a good scandal? Airing the dirty laundry helps combat the great white man narrative by taking the great man off his pedestal. It humanizes historical figures that may be larger than life. Let’s face it . . . the dirt may be the only thing that people can connect with in this era of The Real Housewives and The Bachelor. Historical figures are not perfect. Hamilton is cocky, a womanizer, and an impulsive hot head. All of the sides of Hamilton come across in the musical creating a more complete picture of a man rather than a series of dry facts which often become the basis for our historic interpretation, i.e. born in 1755, first Secretary of Treasury, on the $10 bill.

Talk to People in their Own Language – How many of you give tours or write exhibit labels in “historian speak?” While we do have standards for writing as historians, maybe we should think about our audience when developing specific tours or programs. Miranda uses hip hop style interspersed with late 18th-century language to tell Hamilton’s story connecting people who would never read history to the story of a founding father. The history is not dumbed down at all, but is made more accessible through the use of familiar language. Let’s face it. We can’t all suddenly start rapping our tours (although if you try, please send me a video). We can ask ourselves, however, if our tours need to be less of a historical lecture and more of a conversation based on where our visitor is coming from, not what we want to tell them?



History is Emotional. – If you listened to Hamilton and say you did not experience powerful emotions you are lying or have a cold, dead heart. Miranda takes the narrative of this one man and builds to an emotional climax creating a lasting impression to his listeners (or viewers if you got to see the play). What is the emotional key to your story? Is it a grieving mother or a family torn apart by slavery? Is it an economic disaster, the destruction of a historic community by progress, or some other major change experienced by the people who lived their lives in your historic house or town? How can we turn a series of cold facts into an emotional tune that will resonate with our visitors? If this is not your forte, consider some training in storytelling. AASLH recommends some resources that can help you develop this skill.

Building a narrative that has an emotional core can help tie all of these lessons in making history relevant together. By using original research we can connect audiences to their history through powerful stories told in an accessible way. Hamilton has become a national phenomenon because to works on many levels to help people connect their lives to the past. How can you use these ideas at your site to make history more relevant in our society?

Bethany L. Hawkins is the Chief of Operations for AASLH. She can be reached at

Is Religious History Relevant?

The prominence of religion in the history of our country is undeniable. Many of the first North American settlers brought their religious beliefs and practices with them, and these quickly became an immovable fixture on the developing American landscape. The developmental explosion experience by American Christianity, in particular, led to it becoming the primary “pulse of a new democratic society” (Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, p.6).

In 1850, the U.S. Census reported that there were 18 principal denominations in the country. By 1890, this number grew to 145. The 1906 Census of Religious Bodies reported this number at 186, reflecting not only the growth of population in the U.S., but also the increasingly diverse ethnic background of the country at the turn of the century (this very interesting document is available here).

I could go on, but to me it’s pretty clear that religion is an ever-present force within our collective past.

But does it really matter?

Or we might ask “is it even relevant?”


Lithograph of a ca. 1829 religious camp meeting (Alexander Rider)
Lithograph of a ca. 1829 religious camp meeting (Alexander Rider)

The relevance of history is a topic that many of our colleagues who practice history have recently begun to tackle en masse. One notable way that this struggle has manifested itself is through the History Relevance Campaign. The campaign asserts that history is essential for a variety of reasons, including its ability to nurture personal identity, teach critical skills, foster engaged citizens and inspire leadership. The overall emphasis is that history, rather than being a compilation of dates and events from long ago, has meaning and value for today and the future.

My question is this: Does all of this hold true when viewed through the lens of religious history? If history is essential for all the variety of reasons stated by the History Relevance Campaign, can the same be applied to a religious history perspective?  And does our religious history mean anything for our lives today, as well as for the future? If so, then why and how?

If not, then why bother?  There is, after all, evidence to suggest that religion is becoming less of a fixture, albeit slightly, in our country (depending on how you read the results of this recent study). Does this mean that religious history will become ir-relevant?

Admittedly, I am asking the above questions as devil’s advocate (am I allowed to do that on a religious history blog?) to the field.  For those of us practicing history, especially religious history, I believe that answer is wholeheartedly “YES!” However, it’s one thing to say “Yes, it’s relevant!” but another thing to actually articulate “why?” And the why for one person may be different for another. Which is why our differing perspectives and experiences are so valuable.  In the coming months, members of the Religious History Affinity Group, along with some guest posters, will be thinking about these issues, and sharing their thoughts on why religious history is relevant in our country today.


Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir
Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir

By way of introduction, allow me to share some reasons why I believe religious history IS relevant today:

  • It provides the key to understanding our geographic landscape. Walk through any city or town and count the places of worship. Why are there so many? And why do so many look and act the same, yet have no interaction? Why is there such a large Mormon population in the West, and why are there Southern Baptist Churches in the North? Understanding the religious history of our country can provide insight to these and many similar questions.
  • It provides an understanding of people. To state the very obvious, people are all very unique. And when guided by a set of religious principles, this uniqueness is often sharpened. When their religious commitment infuses their entire outlook, everything from politics to business to architecture to recreation will be influenced by that worldview. An identity is created that is inseparable from everything else. Understanding our religious history can help us to see the complexities amongst people, and perhaps help us to understand where they are coming from, even when we may not agree with them. This is true today, but is also true historically. Who among us would study African-American history in the 1960s without considering the religious elements of that story?
  • It provides proper context. Religious groups often create a physical world that may long outlast the adherents of that belief system, such as publications, architecture and furniture. Often times, these items are ripped from their original context, and take on a life of their own. A proper understanding of such items (a Shaker chair, for example) must see the items in their original context. This could lead to an accurate and honest understanding of such items in both our popular culture as well as in our cultural institutions. The Shakers never set out to be furniture makers; instead, the chairs they made, as well as the buildings they built and the hymns that they wrote, were the logical, and inseparable, result of their belief system.
  • It provides inspiration. Concepts of love, hope, peace and justice are inseparable from many religious belief systems and have been positively used by many to change the country for the better (the Civil Rights movement quickly comes to mind). A proper understanding of the motivation that people have can inspire others to follow the path already trod. Alternately, many have misused and abused religion to achieve a variety of ends throughout history. Understanding this can inspire people to be careful how they use their beliefs, and ultimately learn from the mistakes of the past.

Is religious history relevant today?  Yes it is…for the reasons stated above and for so many more.  Join the Religious History Affinity Community in the coming months as we think about these concepts.  Hopefully, it will create a dialogue and help us all sharpen how we see our past, present and future.

Aaron Genton is the collections manager at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

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.

Webinar: Historic House Call: Keeping History Relevant

The History Relevance Campaign is a diverse group of history professionals posing questions about what makes the past relevant today. The Campaign serves as a catalyst for discovering, demonstrating, and promulgating the value of history for individuals, communities, and the nation.

We believe that history can have more impact when it connects the people, events, places, stories, and ideas of the past with people, events, places, stories, and ideas that are important and meaningful to communities, people, and audiences today.

Join Tim Grove of the National Air and Space Museum and Max van Balgooy of Engaging Places, LLC, as they discuss this important movement, how it impacts historic house museums, and how you can get involved.

This event is free, but preregistration is required.

Learn More