Workshop: Collections Camp: Textiles

Do you have costumes and/or textiles in your museum collection? This two day workshop will focus on the care and conservation of textiles in museum collections.  Spend time working with an expert to learn how to be a better steward of your textile collection.


Date: April 24-25, 2017

Cost: $300 AASLH members/$425 nonmembers
*Get $40 off registration if you book by March 22, 2017!*

Location: Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN


Who should attend:

This workshop, scheduled for April 24-25, is intended for experienced staff and volunteers with responsibility for costume and textile collections.

As a result of this workshop, participants should:

*Have a general knowledge of the basic types of costumes and textiles common in American museum collections.

* Have a general knowledge of the particular needs of costume and textile collections including proper identification, handling, and basic conservation.

* Be familiar with some of the current issues and trends in the preservation of costume and textile collections.

* Explore the variety of issues related to exhibiting and storing costume and textile collections.

* Be familiar with simple conservation procedures that are safe to perform on their costume and textile collections.

* Be aware of when they should call a professional conservator for problems with their costume and textile collections.


About the Faculty:

Karen DePauw is the Coordinator with Local History Services at the Indiana Historical Society.


Announcing the SHA Class of 2015

We are proud to announce the next class of Developing History Leaders @ SHA!

SHA is a three-week program focuses on professional development for leaders of history organizations of all types and sizes. For more than five decades, SHA has provided history professionals with the tools, ideas, and connections that allow them to become effective leaders and managers. It combines engagement with key issues facing our field, discussions led by nationally recognized leaders, and case studies, workshops, forums, and field trips.

This year's program will take place October 31 - November 21 in Indianapolis.

To learn more about SHA and apply for 2016, visit


SHA Class of 2015

Mary Adams, W.K. Gordon Center, Mingus, TX
Felicia Bell,
Rosa Parks Museum, Montgomery, AL
Joy Bivins,
Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL
Will Buhlig,
Cantigny Park, Wheaton, IL
Tricia Canaday,
Idaho State Historical Society, Boise, ID
Matt Cassaday,
Historic Fort Snelling, St. Paul, MN
Chris Gingrich, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Naperville, IL
Kajsa Harley,
Hanford Mills Museum, East Meredith, NY
Erik Ingmundson,
Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
Bill Mahon,
Ohio History Connection, Columbus, OH
Melissa L. Mann,
Drake Well Museum and Park, Titusville, PA
Deb Mitchell,
Montana Historical Society, Helena, MT
Natalie Palmer,
Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN
Anne Petersen,
Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Santa Barbara, CA
Melissa Peterson,
Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, Little Falls, MN
Janna Powell,
Yukon Transportation Museum, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Stuart W. Sanders,
Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY
Bonnie Stacy,
Martha's Vineyard Museum, Edgartown, MA
Dani Stuckle
, State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck, ND

New Website Launched: 300 Journeys into Indiana's Past

AASLH Member Since 1941

The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) has launched its new Destination Indiana website, which will bring hundreds of the state’s stories to life in images and text for people from their home, office, classroom, or wherever their smartphones and tablets take them. The website,, is the latest in IHS’s series of Indiana Bicentennial projects. Guests to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center and IHS’s Indiana Experience have been spellbound by Destination Indiana, an interactive opportunity for visitors to time-travel using innovative digital technology, touch screens and immersive displays of historic images and documents. Guests can explore and understand the places, ideas, people and game-changing contributions of Indiana.

Now, with the Destination Indiana website, users can also explore Indiana’s rich cultural heritage at home. Almost 300 “journeys” exploring more than 200 years of the state’s history have been drawn from IHS’s extensive collections of more than 1.7 million photographs and tens of thousands of documents and other archival items.

The website includes one journey for each of Indiana’s 92 counties, as well as themed journeys on subject matters such as ethnic heritage, Indiana’s military history, the Ohio River, mapping the state, social justice and reform, government, rail transportation, agriculture, art/artists, business/industry, sports, biographies and more. Each image’s caption is accompanied by optional audio of the text.

In addition to browsing, journeys of interest can be located by utilizing a keyword search, clicking on a map of the state or perusing a list of journey themes. Online guests are also free to share images on Facebook and Twitter, or via email. By creating a free account on the site, they can also save their favorite journeys and download higher-resolution images for personal or educational (non- commercial) use. Like the Indiana Experience version of Destination Indiana, new journeys will be added to the website twice each year.

The Destination Indiana website is a presentation of the Indiana Historical Society and is made possible by a generous gift from Care Institute Group, Inc. For more information on IHS programs, call (317) 232-1882 or visit our website.

About the Indiana Historical Society’s Bicentennial Efforts

IHS has been working diligently to create touch points for the community, tools for schools and educators, and assistance for local historical groups as the state’s bicentennial year of 2016 approaches. Just last month, IHS announced its Indiana Heritage Support Program, which will offer $2.5 million in grants to smaller Indiana historical organizations over the next five years as well as fundraising training and assistance. Other projects include the Indiana Bicentennial Train, Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James H. Madison (co-published with Indiana University Press), the educational supplemental text Hoosiers and the American Story by James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss, and a three-year series of regional bicentennial teacher training workshops. Additional programs and several books will be offered in 2015 and 2016.

About the Indiana Historical Society

Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing the state’s history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor exhibitions called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups, publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; produces and hosts art exhibitions, museum theater and outside performance groups; and provides youth, adult and family programming. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of IHS and its Indiana Experience, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Operating hours for the History Center, including the William Henry Smith Memorial Library and the Indiana Experience, are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Create a Social Media Quiz for Your Museum

If you're as addicted to Facebook as I am, you're probably already familiar with social media quizzes. You know, the ones asking, “Which Ninja Turtle Are You?” or “What Song Sums Up Your Teenage Years?” These quizzes are everywhere online!

Here at the Indiana Historical Society, we wondered how we could use the quiz format in our travelling exhibit, The Next Indiana, to promote our state’s bicentennial in 2016. In 2013, we had visitors play a board game where participants answered Indiana trivia questions and moved their game pieces along railroad lines marked on a large state map.

In 2014, we wondered if we could reach a bigger audience by putting those trivia questions online.

After some experimenting, our social media quiz, "How Hoosier Are You?" was born.  (Click here to play.)

Screenshot of the How Hoosier Are You? quiz showing question: Which cartoon character was first drawn in Indiana? Dilbert, Marmaduke, Garfield or Charlie Brown

Want to create your own quiz? Here are some tips:

  • Get familiar with the style and format.Play several of these quizzes first, at, and
  • Choose a quizbuilder website., for example, gives you a choice of quiz formats. I chose "definitive answer," a traditional trivia game with clear right/wrong answers. This approach lets us ask Indiana history questions and participants are also learning something new.
  • Write your text.This involves creating questions, answers (including wrong ones!), the text that appears with each answer, and the results that appear when players finish the quiz. Keep the tone of social media quizzes lighthearted and casual, with a healthy dash of snark.  Imagine your audience as an interested beginner--someone who may know something about your topic but wants to learn more. Remember: social media quizzes are about pop culture, so help players make connections between your topic and what they already know. Music, sports, celebrity, TV and movies are good touchpoints.
  • Use media! Playbuzz lets you add media content (such as photos, maps, images and video) to use in questions, answer choices, answer results, and score reveals. This is an opportunity to feature content from your museum's collections. Check the required dimensions and other specs for each media type before you start, and if you use content you don't own, remember to pay attention to copyright. (Playbuzz has one particularly good feature: it requires a photo credit for all uploaded images; this way, you avoid use issues.)
  • Test your quiz with colleagues. They may have useful suggestions on language, images and other points.
  • Publish your quiz. Ask friends and patrons to share. Be sure to keep up with the comments players leave; great conversations can happen there.

Could a social media quiz benefit your museum?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Becky Schlomann is Coordinator, Bicentennial Programs in the Education and Community Engagement Department at the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis: [email protected]

StEPs Groups: More Than "Misery Loves Company"

Organizations enrolled in StEPs are finding they make much more progress when they work on the program within a group setting.

And the reason for their success isn't just "misery loves company."  StEPs logo Picture1

In the five years since StEPs opened for enrollment, AASLH has encouraged formation of state-based StEPs groups (and other groups like railroad museums or historic houses in a city) because so many of the organizations that piloted StEPs reported that interaction with other museums and sites and with a service provider greatly enhanced their experience.

Moreover, participation in a StEPs group increased their success in serving their communities and improving policies and practices.

Realizing that other museums and sites share the same challenges and concerns as your organization is not only validating but empowering.

So often, organizations feel isolated because they may be the only museum or small museum in their community.

Joining a StEPs group makes a huge difference because it offers networking, shared learning, and an accountability mechanism that promotes progress.

1.30.12 photos 003
StEPs-CT offers valuable opportunities for shared learning.

Here’s information on some of the StEPs groups that have formed:

  • StEPs-CT is a two-year program offering professional development, facilitated conversation, and mentorship opportunities. Organizations that complete the program receive exclusive access to competitive grant funds. Sponsored by the Connecticut League of History Organizations and Connecticut Humanities in partnership with the Connecticut Historical Society, the program served twenty-four organizations from 2012-14. Those organizations received over $45,000 in grants and earned a total of 116 Bronze, Silver or Gold certificates (40% of all StEPs certificates awarded nationwide!).
  • The King County, Washington-based organization, 4Culture, has created StEPs 4Culture, a program that combines professional development, training, mentorship, peer support and incentive-based funding all structured around StEPs. Fifty organizations in the Seattle area are taking part in convenings, roundtables, mentor opportunities, and other activities in 2014-15.
  • In Carmel, Indiana, Hamilton County’s Education Leadership Program for Heritage Organizations (HELP) is using StEPs to improve sustainability of local heritage organizations. The initiative is sponsored and funded by Hamilton County Tourism. The Indiana Historical Society is assisting with the program. Nine heritage organizations are taking part in workshops and consultations over a three-year period.

    StEPs Middle TN
    Members of the Middle TN StEPs group celebrate certificates earned.
  • In Tennessee, AASLH received funding from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to work with history organizations on StEPs. Five Middle Tennessee museums and sites worked with AASLH Program Manager Bethany Hawkins in 2012-13, focusing primarily on the Stewardship of Collections section. Last month, the Foundation awarded funding for AASLH to begin working with additional organizations in 2015.
  • StEPs for Ohio is a new initiative of the Ohio History Connection. The OHC Local History Office is working with AmericCorps workers to offer workshops, webinars, and one-on-one consulting to help local historical societies and museums earn at least the six Bronze StEPs certificates.

So whether it's "birds of a feather flock together" or "misery loves company," or more likely a combination of the two, I encourage all StEPs participants to start a discussion in their state about forming a StEPs group. Low-budget or well-funded, a StEPs group can help your organization make meaningful progress. And that can translate into more credibility and more support!


Cherie Cook is Senior Program Manager at AASLH. She can be reached at [email protected] or 573.893.5164.


SHA and the Small Museum

When you work at a small museum, your absence for any length of time can be difficult to plan.  After all, while you're gone (or most of the time!), who is even available to pick up the slack?  So, taking off three weeks for professional development seems like a pipe dream.  In my humble opinion, however, SHA (Seminar for Historical Administration) is more valuable to those of us who work at smaller institutions than to those with departments and staff and budgets in the millions.

Our last day--Natalie is standing, and that's me in the chair.Our last day--Natalie is standing, and that's me in the chair.

If you're not familiar with SHA, it's a three-week intensive professional development workshop held in Indianapolis each fall.  Applications for the 2014 session are due May 19, so there's still time!  I attended in 2013 during a crucial turning point for both my museum and me.  My boss was planning to step back, and he was looking to me to take over the reins as Executive Director.  After being at one institution for 9 years, I knew Dallas Heritage Village backwards and forwards, but I needed to expand my toolkit for my new role.

When I arrived in Indianapolis, I very quickly made friends with my roommate, Natalie Gacek.  As Executive Director of the St. Charles Heritage Society, she represented the smallest institution at SHA.  During many late night conversations, we figured out a few things:

  • Though we were always a bit jealous of the folks who had large institutional budgets, we realized we had a lot more flexibility to try new things.  Some fellow classmates were frustrated with the hierarchy at their institutions. That's not an issue at a small organization.  Many conversations were about making changes, and a number of our colleagues felt trapped at their institution.  We knew we would be able to implement some of our big ideas.
  • Getting to do everything isn't always a bad thing.
  • Our institutions can get along without us. In fact, our absence encouraged some coworkers to become more confident.

I've always enjoyed working at a smaller institution, but after SHA, I appreciate the freedom that goes with it even more.  By getting the big picture of history museums, it's much easier to see where we fit.  And that's valuable.

So, how do you make it all work?  After all, you probably can't shut your museum down for three weeks!  Natalie increased the hours  of her part-time assistant and asked volunteers to work a bit extra.  I have a staff, so I just learned how to delegate.  For the first time in my career, an event happened at the museum without me, and the museum was still standing when I returned.  Perhaps the most important lesson we both learned was in learning to let go.

If you have any questions about SHA, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or 214-413-3671