What’s my payback for SHA?
I had the opportunity to attend the Seminar for Historical Administration last year and have since considered the question “what’s the payback for SHA?” I am a director of a mid-size community’s historical society and it never fails to amaze me how vast and varied our methods and approach to history are all over America and even in the next town. Unlike many other professions, you do not need a license to practice history and that leads to a public that does not know what to expect from its local museums because they have probably seen both the best and the worst of us. That is, in essence, the payback to SHA for me- it set the bar for best practices in the history field in a way that no other program has come close in the field of public history. I know as I approach the wide variety of problems and challenges that historical societies face that I have an edge over the rest because I attended SHA and discussed and learned and argued and discovered the complexities of being a public historian.
As the director of a small museum, I am very grateful for the opportunity that SHA afforded me and will pay it forward by encouraging my fellow small museum colleagues to consider attending SHA. I also know that the program is not possible without the generous underwriting from its sponsors, and I am eternally grateful for those organizations that donate resources of all kinds to its success. Due to the sponsors of SHA, the program is available to not only staff at the large, national institutions, but also those at the local level, and as we all know, local museums can play a key role in a community’s culture. SHA never made my issues seem small or insignificant, and that attitude is critical for the success of our field as a whole. On behalf of the small, local museums all over America, we appreciate the sponsors of SHA for understanding the importance of best practices in history organizations and thank them for funding this critical endeavor. Since attending SHA last year, our organization has a new mission, new vision, and has adopted a strategic plan for the first time in its history. Our work has lead to greater public awareness of heritage in our community, which has a ripple affect outward-raising all of us up with it. After attending SHA, I now feel I have a license to practice history and a whole network of people that I can turn to for support. Onward!