Monthly Archives: August 2012

Developing History Leaders at SHA recruitment efforts come to fruition…

Like many SHA alumni, I was aware of the famous (and perhaps somewhat infamous) Class of 1982, benefitting during my attendance in 2005 from wonderful presentations from Class of ’82 alums Andy Masich and of course, Jim Vaughan. I was not completely aware of all the other members (except, of course, for Jim’s wife Janet!) so it was wonderful to learn about them in Jim’s article “Where are They Now? SHA Class of 1982” in the Spring 2012 edition of AASLH’s History News. But more importantly, it was quite impressive to read, in their own words, exactly what SHA meant to them, the turning point it was for their careers and how SHA influences and affects them even now, THIRTY (as in 30) years later.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look at

After spending a wonderful evening with the Developing History Leaders @SHA Class of 2011 during their time in Indianapolis last fall, I left quite impressed with the fabulous group. I had explained the drop in applications since 2007, the SHA Alumni Committee’s efforts to try and bring this up and many other aspects about Developing History Leaders @SHA, what the SHA Alumni Committee does, and a myriad of other topics that one discusses with these wonderful groups of newly minted leaders.

 Apparently the impression was mutual enough to inspire one such leader, Jamie Glavic, to recruit her fellow members of the Class of 2011 to write much the same factors about SHA as the Class of 1982, this time in a blog format. The blog and its many entries can be read at These “fresh off the vine” Class of 2011 grads discussed what Developing History Leaders @SHA meant to them, the influence it has had in the short time since their attendance and how they are realizing the turning point that Developing History Leaders @ SHA is for them.

Does that sound familiar?? Just take a minute and absorb that! A program, started nearly 53 years ago, still has incredible widespread relevance in our field today, as two classes, almost 30 years apart, attested within months of each other!

Finally, I must mention this Developing History Leaders @SHA blog and corresponding website. On behalf of the SHA partners (listed at the bottom of each page at, the SHA Alumni Committee developed the site as the need for more applicants became urgent. They are the work of the many members of the committee, each one of us routinely has a blog entry and some of us, like me, jump in again every once in awhile.

I’m very pleased to report that these efforts have been successful this year. We received 34 applications in 2012 for the then 18 (now 21) seats in the Class of 2012. We know that the decision to attend SHA is hardly ever a quick one…it often takes many years. But these efforts have pushed those considering the course to apply and take that next step. The leadership provided by all these individuals has exceeded our expectations. Thank you for your contributions!   

And watch for the Class of 2012 list coming soon…

Be creative and be surprised!

I think previous posts have provided some great descriptions of SHA – a summer camp for history museum folks which affirms your role in the field.  It gave me a refresher on parts of the field which I don’t work in and helped me make some great connections with colleagues that I’m sure we’ll keep for the next 25-30 years.  Some thoughts from my experience with SHA…

Be creative.  It took some creativity for me to be able to attend SHA.  With a small staff and small operating budget, how could I be away for three weeks and ask my organization to pay for it?  Yet, I couldn’t afford to pay for everything myself.  In the end, we came up with compromise.  I was given one week of administrative leave and then used two weeks of vacation I had built up in order to cover the three weeks away, with the cooperation of colleagues who ran a event without me.  My organization paid my tuition while I paid my travel.  It worked out well for everyone.

Be prepared to be surprised!  I have friends who go to Indianapolis regularly so was predisposed to like it but was surprised about how much I enjoyed the city.  The riverwalk was a great place to end each day with a walk.  The variety of museums provided a great classroom as well as busman’s holiday on some days off.  I was able to visit friends in Muncie and see the Ball State University art museum.  One Sunday, four of us were at the Children’s Museum all afternoon and didn’t see everything.  “The Power of Children” is far and away one of the best history exhibits I’ve ever experienced.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t attend AASLH in 2009 to go back to Indianapolis so hope to plan a vacation there sometime in the next few years.

I was also surprised that I enjoyed the historic preservation day so much.  I was kind of dreading it; while I understand the importance of historic preservation, the technical side of it just isn’t my thing.  Yet, I had a wonderful day.  Dwight Pitcaithley and Jim Vaughan (full disclosure – now my supervisor, on behalf of our board) led us through a case study about the National Trust’s Montpelier which gave us a great opportunity to debate the goals of preservation and interpretation, which is emblematic of the SHA seminar experience.  It’s wasn’t a how to, but a why.

So if you want to attend SHA, be creative to figure out how to make it work for you and your organization.  And once you’re there, be prepared for the unexpected.

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