Monthly Archives: October 2013

Welcoming my SHA Classmates to Indianapolis!

Posted by Eleanor Batic, Indiana Historical Society


We are about to embark on the day of field trips that will shape our fourth day of study with the 2013 class of Seminar for Historical Administration. I realize that we still have more than two weeks to go, but frankly, if it ended now, I would have already felt this to be an incredible experience. As a participant based at the Indiana Historical Society, home base for the SHA classroom, and a resident of Indianapolis, the hosting city, I feel a tremendous sense of pride for the amazing museum work being done locally that can be used as a living classroom for students of the field. I am looking forward to seeing the President Benjamin Harrison Home and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art today through fresh eyes, all the while thinking about the big picture questions raised by our presenters thus far.

So far talks by Spencer Crew, Katherine Kane, Estevan Rael-Galvez, Jim Vaughn, Ken Turino, and Elee Wood have all raised fascinating points and hit on issues both that I struggle with currently or realize that I will encounter in the future. Starting out with a discussion about why we went into the field of history in the first place (and how wildly that varies for even the small sample present in my classroom), was a wonderful validation of the choices I made more than 15 years ago when I decided to pursue this career.

The SHA class of 2013 is only beginning the learning opportunities that will unfold in the next few weeks. I am proud to welcome my fellow classmates and faculty to the city of Indianapolis and look forward to unpacking a Midwestern city’s approach to the public history field through the eyes from professionals from some of the nation’s top organizations. Already, just four days in, I am hitting my pillow each night intellectually (and in two cases so far, emotionally) exhausted, but so excited for that alarm to go off so that I can begin a new day. I am so grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait to continue on this adventure alongside my SHA classmates and partners in this journey.

2013 Class begins this weekend

Posted by John Durel, Coordinator, DHL@SHA

On Saturday I’ll be traveling to Indianapolis to meet the 2013 class of Developing History Leaders @SHA. As in the past, this year’s seminar will be rich in discussions about innovations and best practices in leading and managing historic sites, history museums, historical societies, archives, and historic preservation organizations. Twenty-one public history practitioners and thirty-three faculty from across the nation will spend three weeks grappling with ways to make history organizations more valued, of greater service to their communities, and financially sustainable.

Here is a photo from last year’s class as an example of how students engage in the issues. Image

In recent years the seminar has focused on institutional change driven by the need to engage visitors and communities in more relevant ways; the demand for new funding models; and a better understanding of how people actually use and value history. This year we are adding emphasis on two related topics:

  • How to make historic places more valued and financially sustainable. We are fortunate that the first week of the seminar coincides with the annual preservation conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Estevan Rael-Galvez, Vice President for Historic Sites, will engage in a process of re-imagining the purpose and use of historic houses; and students will attend the conference keynote address by Henry Glassie, as well as other sessions.
  • How to use historical artifacts more effectively in helping people find meaning in the past. Traditionally discussions about collections have focused on how to best care for them. We intend to push the discussion further, asking what distinctive values objects hold for people engaged in seeking to understand history.

Over the next three weeks members of the class will be posting their thoughts about these topics on this blog. It promises to be a stimulating time, with an energetic exchange of ideas and questions. I hope you will follow the discussions and add your own comments to the blog posts.




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