SHA: No Other Professional Development Has Inspired Me More
I was three years into a position at Old Sturbridge Village. It was 1979. The announcement was so engaging, especially the fact that it would then be held in the mecca of outdoor history museums, Colonial Williamsburg.
While at the Seminar I met some remarkable individuals, kindred spirits in fact. Our own Denny O’Toole was one of them. Even more fortunately, a job was available at CW (though I was not looking) that was right up my alley,and by year’s end Denny and I (along with a cast of other kindred spirits) were at work together during a very exciting time at CW. In time, my enthusiasm for the SHA was such that there came an opportunity to assist with its annual offerings as the CW coordinator. This I was fortunate to do for seven years, years that enabled me to meet over 100 hundred good colleagues.
In short, I can think of no other professional development scheme that has inspired me more; introduced me to life-long friends and colleagues; and–more importantly–has changed the field more than the SHA. Knowing the history of this Seminar over its half-century-plus life span, it is very clear that it has played a seminal part in “peopling a profession” with well-qualified, enthusiastic, and well-connected alumni who, together have had huge impact on our field. It is quite the engine!
I was fortunate to have been at institutions that highly value professional development, places that appreciate that they have an obligation to a larger field and more universal ethic of history teaching and administration. Sturbridge and Williamsburg were, an hopefully still are, enlightened in this regard. One’s very attendance at the SHA encourages this responsible thinking while discouraging institutional myopia. The field is much, much better for the SHA, for it offers all an opportunity to leave for a while and come back greatly renewed and engaged.
Ad Summa, SHA!