As you may have noticed, I started vlogging (video + blogging = vlogging) from Salt Lake City while attending #AASLH2012. Unfortunately, that lasted all of two days.
I spoke at four sessions during the conference and was (still sorta am – long story) working on a white paper deadline. Plus, I ran into quite a few friends and colleagues AND I had a brand new city to explore.
Excuses aside; I think it’s pretty lame I wasn’t able to commit to the full video series.
However, now that I have had a hot second to catch up on email back at the ranch (@OhioHistory), and have almost fully recalibrated my body clock (who knew that a 2 hour time difference – plus a few late nights – would have such a crazy effect on my REM cycle at home – anyone else in EST having this issue?), it’s time to debrief.
First of all, Utah is beautiful. I mean BEAUTIFUL. From the moment I first gazed out of the small airplane window to the uphill hike I took to the Capitol Building on the last day, I was in awe. If you’ve never been – the scenery alone is worth the trip.
Second, I am so thankful for the gathering of old and new friends (colleagues). My SHA classmates and I had a mini-reunion at the hotel bar – several times (8 of the 15 were present) – and I was finally able to put faces to many of the names I’ve been emailing all year for committees, professional development groups and session presentations.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, AASLH puts on a damn good conference. The sessions are substantive, thought provoking and practical. The presenters are often leaders in the field but also approachable. AASLH also offers unique opportunities for “up and coming” professionals to showcase their expertise and engage on equal footing with their more experienced peers. Kudos to the AASLH Programs Committee for their consistently good work on this front.
One of my favorite aspects of AASLH is the fact that the AASLH Annual Meeting is a national conference that feels surprisingly intimate. It is a gathering of professionals specifically from the history field and the conversations and insights that result directly relate to the work that I do.
One of my favorite things about this year’s conference?
Easy… Ford Bell, President of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). I first had the opportunity to see how AASLH and AAM collaborate last fall while attending the Seminar for Historical Administration (SHA). AAM is one of the sponsors of SHA and Ford spoke to my class on the importance of advocacy, and hinted at the (then) upcoming changes to his organization. At this year’s Annual Meeting, Ford, along with my CEO, Burt Logan, announced the strengthening of partnerships between the AAM and AASLH as highlighted by the revised museum accreditation program sponsored by AAM.
The AASLH Annual Meeting is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself into the history museum field and offers a unique opportunity to step away from your own bubble and see the forest through the trees without your institution goggles. If you are an administrator with influence over up-and-coming professionals in the field, find some way to get them to the conference. If you are an up-and-comer yourself (or already there, for that matter) – go!
Next year’s conference is in Birmingham, Alabama, in partnership with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, September 18 – 21, 2013, and session proposals are due Friday, November 16, 2012. The theme? Turning Points: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Change.
Fifty years after hundreds of young people stood solid for freedom. Fifty years after King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” articulated principles of nonviolence. Fifty years later we ask: If history is the example, the provocateur, and the context – how do we best use it today?
Did you attend AASLH 2012?