Once or twice a year we ask the chairs of AASLH committees to summarize what their group has been working on and plans to accomplish in the coming months. In most cases, the chair authored the report, though in some instances it was a staff member. While the main purpose for these summaries is to aid the AASLH Council and staff in planning, we’re pleased to share these updates with our members in a multi-week blog series. This week’s post covers the activities of our standing committees and task forces. Learn more about these groups here, and read part one of the series discussing our Affinity Communities here.

250th Coordinating Committee
Chair: Sara Cureton, New Jersey Historical Commission

Over the past year we have broadened our membership and focused on providing space for a diverse group of organizations to share information and develop strategies for supporting an inclusive commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States. Membership expanded to include over thirty organizations. Quarterly meetings allowed for updates on planning from key organizations such as Made By US, the National Park Service, and AASLH. Members also discussed emerging issues of concern, such as the growing number of states adopting or considering legislation restricting the teaching of history in K-12 classrooms, often tied to misinformed ideas about the inclusion of critical race theory in curricula. America250, the national commission charged with planning anniversary events and initiatives, provided planning updates to the Committee as the year progressed.

The work of the committee was hugely supported by AASLH staff work, most notably by the production of the new Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial, Making History at 250. This publication was warmly received by the field and by the Committee. It offers a thoughtful and flexible foundation for planning activities for the anniversary based on current insights from leading scholars and public historians. We also sponsored webinars this year, including the debut of the Field Guide, and a discussion of approaches to viewing the Revolution from multiple, diverse perspectives.

Goals: to pursue avenues for making information and opportunities available to AASLH members to develop engaging, inclusive programming for 2026 and beyond. Sessions at the fall Annual Meeting and additional webinars are two possible programming options for 2022.

2022 Annual Meeting Program Committee
Co-chairs: Jennifer Ortiz, Utah Division of History and Sarah Jencks, Ford’s Theatre

We held a virtual training for our incoming PC on January 6th. Our committee met to review 91 sessions the week of January 24th. Sarah and I have had some fruitful conversations with our Canadian counterparts to ensure we are getting cross-border participation for this year’s in person conference in particular. Sarah brings a wealth of knowledge of the education and interpretation field and has been a such a powerhouse generating ideas and connections. The theme for the conference is Right Here, Right Now: The Power of Place inspired by Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial. The program guide will be released in late May and registration will open in early June.

2022 Annual Meeting Host Committee
Co-chairs: Terry Abrams, Niagara County Historical Society and Melissa Brown, Buffalo History Museum

The co-chairs of the 2022 Annual Meeting in Buffalo on September 14-17 are working on securing sponsorships and finalizing plans for tours and evening events. At the request of the Museum Association of New York, The New York State Council on the Arts set aside professional development grant funds especially for our conference which will provide several scholarships to New York history professionals. Bethany Hawkins plans on meeting with the host committee in-person in April during the Museum Association of New York’s annual conference.

2023 Program and Host Committees
The planning for the 2023 conferences will be kicking off this winter. The meeting will be September 5-8 in Boise, Idaho. Our program chair is Noelle Trent with the National Civil Rights Museum, and our host committee is led by Janet Gallimore and Liz Hobson with the Idaho State Historical Society.

Audit Committee
Chair: Cathy Fields, Litchfield Historical Society

The Audit Committee meets once a year, typically in January or February, to review the financial audit prepared by an auditing firm. The FY2021 audit has not yet been submitted to the committee. For the past several years our outside auditing firm has been Edmondson, Betzler & Dame, PLLC in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Awards Committee
Chair: Christy Crisp, Georgia Historical Society

In 2021, the Awards Committee met online in May to review applications from across the nation. While the overall number of submissions was down considerably over previous years, given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic the committee was pleased with both the number and quality of the 2021 nominations. In the end, the percentage of awards approved vs. submitted was very similar to years past, even though the total number of awards was roughly half what we’ve seen in recent years, pre-pandemic. During the in-person Annual Meeting in Little Rock, AASLH experimented with a new format for the award presentations, switching from a more formal dinner program to a late-afternoon reception. This format offered a low price point for attendees, hopefully encouraging more participation from both award winners and other conference participants not specifically tied to award winners. Feedback seemed overwhelmingly positive, with award winners apparently pleased with the experience. While the total number of presentations was considerably less than in years past, the process seemed to work, and we feel would be worth trying again in Buffalo. An additional consideration might be to plan some sort of award winner recognition for the virtual conference. While we want to encourage winners to attend the conference in Buffalo, it would be ideal to have some sort of recognition during the online conference as well.

January marks the main push for new nominations in 2022. With the March 1 deadline approaching, an informational webinar was held on January 12, 2022, for those interested in learning more about the Awards program. State and regional representatives will meet via webinar on January 19, 2022, for further instruction and discussion about the process of soliciting and developing nominations. Further, the committee is looking forward to an in-person review meeting in St. Louis in May to discuss and review all submitted nominations for this year.

2022 Goals:

  • Fill all remaining vacancies in state and regional representative positions
  • Increase the number and geographic representation of nominations
  • Consider options for award winner recognition during the online conference

Climate and Sustainability Committee
Chair: Debra A. Reid, The Henry Ford

During 2021 C&S continued meeting every other week and maintains minutes of meetings in Basecamp. 2021 was a rebuilding year as three of four founding members transitioned off so much of 2021 involved inviting attendees to the regular meetings. April 2021 launched Earth Day features and AASLH resource sharing on the C&S affinity page (thanks to Aubrey Menich and Aja Bain for championing this). C&S member Vicky Kruckeberg compiled a Brown Bag program for the 2021 Virtual AASLH conference. C&S co-chair Reid, with input from the committee, compiled “Sustainability at the AASLH / AMA 2021 Annual Meeting,” and thanks Bethany Hawkins and Aubrey Menich for posting: aaslh.org/annualmeeting/2021annualmeeting. Co-Chair Debra Reid proposed a workshop for the 2022 AASLH Conference in Buffalo.

2022 Goals

  • Be an educational resource to help members increase their sustainability and regenerative practices, as well as their public impacts related to sustainability in the larger living culture.
  • Launching informal “Open Mic” conversations with AASLH members to hear member needs
  • Follow-up on “Open Mic” with information posts on C&S Affinity page
  • Workshop (if accepted) during 2022 conference and pursuing opportunities for affinity committee conversations during virtual)
  • Information exchange through C&S affinity group forums
  • Stress to AASLH (the organization and its individual and institutional members), the need to catalyze transformative regenerative change to reverse degradation (cultural sustainability; land, water, and resource stewardship, etc.)
  • Test a new workshop model that starts with member/stakeholder engagement via online engagement before the conference and which continues afterward (launched 2022)
  • Practice community engagement broadly and co-creative work (also modeled with case-studies during the 2022 workshop and sustained through how-to information sharing via the affinity page, a Technical Leaflet, and modeled at future conferences).

Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Chair: Richard Josey, Collective Journeys, LLC

The committee is analyzing the results of last fall’s DEAI survey of Council, committees, and staff. It also is working on creating an affinity community and discussion space in AASLH’s “Community Center.” Later in 2022 members of the committee will meet with AASLH staff to discuss continuing implementation of the new DEAI Framework document.

Editorial Advisory Committee
Chair: New Chair beginning Feb. 2022

This twelve- to fifteen-person group works with our staff publications manager, Aja Bain, and Rowman & Littlefield acquisitions editor Charles Harmon. The former series editor, who serves as chair of the committee, resigned last year and we have opened a call for a new one.

Finance Committee
Chair: Rebekah Beaulieu, Florence Griswold Museum

The committee meets prior to Council meetings and its minutes are included in Council packets.

Governance Committee
Chair: Lisa Anderson, Woodbury Art Museum, UVU

This committee has been active over the past year and reported in detail at each of the past several Council meetings.

Investment Committee
Chair: Ann Toplovich, Tennessee Historical Society

The AASLH Investment Committee operates within the by-laws of AASLH and under its Investment Policies (IP), which are periodically reviewed and updated by the committee. The purpose of the committee is the stewardship of the AASLH endowment and other funds, which may be temporarily restricted. The IP considers the committee’s responsibilities as delegated by Council, its investment objectives, asset mix, asset quality, and asset diversification. The Investment Committee meets in advance of each Council meeting to review the performance of AASLH investments in cash, equities, and bonds for the preceding quarter. Adjustments to the asset mix may be made within the parameters of the IP. The minutes of the committee’s meetings and the investment reports it reviews are reviewed by Council.

Leadership Nominating Committee
Chair: Burt Logan, Ohio History Connection

LNC began its 2022 nomination process with a meeting on November 18 where it considered the Strategic Priorities document for 2022 provided by Council and began identifying the kinds of candidates it will be seeking for Nominating Committee, Council, Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice-Chair this year.

Standards and Ethics Committee
Chair: Erin Richardson, Frank and Glory

The committee published the position paper Valuing History Collections in May 2020. The document took into account recent revisions to the Financial Standard Accounting Board’s definition of the term “collection” and new regulations related to proceeds from the sale of deaccessions. Committee members participated in an AASLH Conversation about that document: “Deaccessioning in a Recession? Why and Why Not” in May 2021. Committee members worked in collaboration with the Small Museums Affinity Community and the Field Services Alliance to publish What’s Next? A Guide to Museum Transitions and Closures position paper, published in March 2021.

Current projects include the friends’ group “white paper” [title in development] in conjunction with members of the State Historical Administrators Meetings. Working with the Public History Research Lab, we developed and released a survey on that topic in Summer 2021. We also submitted a session proposal for 2022 to share the results of the survey and eventual publication. In 2022 we hope to begin a similar project, with a task force model, to tackle “compensation vs. volunteerism” [title also in development] that will address questions around when labor could or should be compensated, or when it must not be compensated, especially in the “few-or-no staff, many volunteers” model of most history organizations.

2022 goals:

  • Complete friends’ group project for review by AASLH, design for publication (spring) and host related Annual Meeting/Virtual Conference session (September)
  • Begin compensation vs. volunteerism project (Summer)
  • Nominate at least three new committee members to begin in October

History Leadership Institute Advisory Board

This group consists of the major funders of HLI: the Indiana Historical Society, Conner Prairie, History Nebraska, Minnesota Historical Society, the National Association for Interpretation, and the Missouri Historical Society. It selects the applicants, reviews the curriculum and the work of the HLI Director, Max van Balgooy, and recommends improvements to the program. This month the board is reviewing the twenty-three applications that arrived for this June’s seminar.