We sent all attendees of the 2016 Annual Meeting a survey to find out what we did right and what we could improve. In that survey, we asked what types of sessions attendees would like to see on the program for the 2017 AASLH Annual Meeting in Austin, TX (September 6-9). Here’s a quick summary of the big ideas. Feel free to use these as inspiration for your 2017 session proposals. (See the Call for Proposals here.)


Community Engagement

Continued discussion of projects and approaches people have taken to involve their full community.

How to form strategic partnerships to launch programs; Museum programs geared to corporate team building
Collaboration/partnership activities with area libraries – public or academic.


More on Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

More on accessibility for people with disabilities/education.

More sessions about inclusion and diversity of museum staff, and responding to national events as they occur.

I loved the diversity and inclusion focus this year. I’d love to see that continued.

Loved how many sessions dealt with diversity, inclusion, and engaging non-traditional audiences! Keep doing that!
I thought the “Safe Space” session was excellent and wouldn’t mind seeing more of those kinds of discussions.

Interpreting slavery and racism with children.


Management, Leadership, and Volunteer Recruitment

Advocacy for small museums – which represent perhaps 80% of all museums. Access to public money is hugely & procedurally stacked against the small. It needs to be challenged

Continue with the management tune-up series. The sessions I have attended have been very timely and worthwhile.

More sessions on volunteer recruitment and retention, with an emphasis on creating a leadership pipeline (volunteer to board member) within organizations.

I would love to see more sessions on volunteer and intern management, specifically regards to policies and procedures. Since majority of our museums utilize volunteers, it seems appropriate to provide an array of topics related to managing volunteers.

How to work with board/leadership with no museum background.


Sessions Tackling the “Big Ideas” and Assumptions of the Field

Loved the session on “Best Practices: Friend or Foe?” Hope there is a follow up to this.

Loved the “best practices: friend or foe” session. Think that could be an annual or every other year session, with rotating cast of instigators.

I would like to see more sessions that are big-picture oriented and thought-provoking (like the Best Practices: Friend or Foe) or that address museum professionals and their challenges as non-profit workers (like the Tattoos, Burlesque, and the Blues).

Maybe topics that focus on self-reflection as a field and as public history professionals. Normalized things we take for granted. Stepping outside of our own definitions of things.


Sessions Focused on Careers and Emerging Professionals

Also, really enjoyed being a part of the Emerging History Professionals roundtable. Some great conversations!

Loved the stuff for emerging professionals – that was really helpful and I think everyone enjoyed it.


A Lot of Requests for More on Marketing, Technology, and Fundraising

Social media and the preservation of social media would be an interesting topic.

I would love to see more on technology (especially low budget!) in museums. The session on High Tech Engagement with Low Resources was one of the best I attended.

Please add more sessions on marketing to the schedule.

I went to one session on technology that was PACKED. It seems like there is real interest there. I would include more sessions on incorporating technology into programming.

Fundraising and marketing how-to. These seem to be common issues I hear from colleagues.

More presentations on marketing, social media, working with local news (is it worth it when more people are getting news from other sources).

I would like to have seen some sessions on financial management and fundraising especially in small museums.

I would love to see a few digital media / marketing sessions.

Branding, rebranding, and marketing. New products and materials for exhibits. Building a new customer base.


Sessions About History Relevance and Connection to History Relevance in Other Sessions

Linking sessions to history relevance is key for the future.

The tough questions like “does America have too many historic house museums?” are so worthwhile to discuss with colleagues. Relevance is increasing in importance. More from History Relevance Campaign.

How about something on making the case locally for support and relevance – how to work with municipal entities, organizations etc. to achieve prominence in planning initiatives etc.


Local History!

A local history session for the locale of the conference.

A daytime session on the history of our host city.


Other Ideas

More sessions on specific case studies of programs and exhibits. Sessions on workplace dynamics, leadership, teamwork. Sessions on ways that museums have incorporated visitor studies.

Managing the archiving of born-digital content.

Reinterpretation, effective and popular programs that deliver mission but also incorporate some fundraising.

How to build a strong, all volunteer local historical society.

Compare grant opportunities from 5 organizations (IMSL, NEH, etc.) requirements, types, timing.