“To fully embrace the inclusive nature of history is to embrace the idea that each of us has “our” moment and each of us is entitled to an acknowledgement of that moment.” – Dina A. Bailey
In September 2010, Bob Beatty of the American Association of State and Local History – a for me hitherto unknown organization – invited me to be an observer in their online conference and provide him with an honest assessment of the experience. I accepted and soon found myself learning about the many history organizations focusing on larger and smaller stories from American history. It was a great experience.
I revisited my assessment in light of a new book edited by Bob Beatty, the AASLH’s Guide to Making Public History. My main (and in fact only) criticism at the time was the apologetic attitude of many speakers in the online conference. Although they discussed essential topics and presented inspirational cases, it regularly felt as if they thought their work unworthy of the public’s attention. The same cannot be said of Bob’s new guide, which presents America’s (public) history organizations as more lively and relevant than ever, pressing challenges notwithstanding.
Bob’s Guide to Making Public History is a wide-ranging book, bringing together essays by important thinkers from between 2008-2017 on topics such as entrepreneurship, change management, relevance, partnerships, etc. Key themes in the book include financial and institutional stability, change and transformation, collections, diversity and inclusion, and the relevance of the history field as a whole. Each essay is introduced by Bob, who adds invaluable context and additional sources.
(Many of Bob’s contributions are appearing on his Medium.)Read More »