2023 Annual Conference Theme Statement

by Noelle Trent, Ph.D., 2023 Program Committee Co-Chair

"I, too, am America"

The preamble to the United States Constitution, begins with the phrase “We, the People...” This phrase has become synonymous with the definition of an American identity. Despite its inclusive appearance “We, the People” was employed as an exclusionary tactic. The phrase indicated an incorporation into a larger American identity while, for generations, ignoring significant groups of people who contributed to, sustained, and influenced American society. Today, “We, the People” has evolved into an inclusive statement of the history and experiences of people within in the United States.

The 2023 conference theme “I, too, am America” is inspired by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes’s 1926 poem “I, Too” where he stakes his claim on the evolving promise of an inclusive nation by stating “I, too, am America.”  His demand tests the promise of the preamble. His poem demonstrates that, despite the country’s segregated society and exclusion of Blacks from the American identity, as a Black man, Hughes was also an American. This year’s conference theme draws on the broadening concept of American identity that is found in Making History At 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial.

I, too, am America, evokes an inclusive definition of America which expands beyond citizenship documentation to everyone who lives, works, and contributes to American society regardless of legal status. I, too, am America applies to all people: Black, White, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, men, women, nonbinary individuals, adults, teens, children, the elderly, immigrants, undocumented individuals, poor & low income, non-native English speakers, multi-lingual people, high school graduates, college students, K – 12 students, the formerly incarcerated, the incarcerated, East coast, West coast, South, Southwest, Mid-west and all variations in between. I, too, am America, is a bold statement looking at the past, present, and future states of being an American, how we interpret American history, and our evolving audience.

In the countdown to country’s 250th anniversary, we are forced to wrestle with our collective identity. Our 2023 conference is a call for an engaging examination of identity through creativity, innovation, and compelling discussion. Questions we should consider are:

  • What does “I, too, am America” mean to you?
  • How does this challenging sociocultural moment inspire innovation?
  • How are institutions navigating this sociocultural moment?
  • How does the changing physical and cultural landscape impact our institutions and work as public historians?
  • How do we incorporate and highlight underrepresented and unknown stories?
  • How do we reconsider longstanding narratives?
  • What are our audiences' needs, and how has that impacted our ongoing community engagement?
  • What is technology’s role in our ongoing work? How does it facilitate education, inclusion, and engagement?
  • How, when, and why have definitions of “the people” and ideas about belonging changed in the United States, in your state, or in your community?

Boise, Idaho will serve as the location for this discussion. The city has seen significant growth and change in the last decade. In 2019, Boise was the second-fastest growing metro area in the nation. The city’s longstanding commitment as an inviting place to all has resulted it welcoming over 800 new citizens each year from over 20 foreign countries. Idaho is home to five federally recognized tribes- the Kootenai, Coeur d’Alene, Nez Perce, Shoshone Paiute, and Shoshone Bannock—whose history and culture can be seen throughout the state. The state’s distinct and rugged landscape and the City of Boise’s incorporation of urban and outdoor landscape urge us to consider the influence of changing landscapes on our work, identity, and community. Idaho’s land, which transcends nearly 700 miles from its north at the Canadian border to its southern neighbor Utah, has significantly shaped the culture and character of its people. Home to the second largest Basque population in North America, Boise reminds us of the influence and culture that various groups bring to our communities.

I, too, am America means that we must consider all parts of the country and all people within the country. It is a demand echoing throughout history and reverberating within Idaho’s history. From women’s suffrage in 1896 to the Native American struggle for civil and human rights to the preservation and interpretation of Japanese internment camps to the ever-evolving demographics, Idaho reflects the ongoing discussion of American identity. Join us in Boise as we gather and explore our collective identity.

AASLH is accepting submissions of short articles to be posted on our official blog. Specifically, we are seeking articles on issues and challenges facing history organizations and their staffs. Articles should be clear, concise, and offer obvious takeaways or suggestions. There is no deadline, and submissions are welcomed at any time. You can expect a response within two or three weeks. 

Here are ideas on what to write:

  • Takeaways from history organizations doing great work
  • Lessons learned from recent or ongoing projects at your organization
  • Tips on administration and leadership
  • Career advice and guidance for professionals in the field 
  • Unique takes on current trends (i.e. what’s the next Hamilton?)
  • Constructive reflections on the state of the field

Guidelines:

  • Length: 350-800 words
  • Posts should be in Chicago Style
  •  All submissions must include at least one landscape orientation photo with photo credit/caption
  •  Do not footnote; instead, provide URLs for references
  • Single space after sentences

Photos:

  • All submissions must include at least one landscape orientation photo
  • Two-three photos are ideal
  • Photos should at least 750 pixels wide
  • Photos should be free of any copyright restrictions; include attributions/ credit in the captions

Terms:

  • Articles should be original content that has not been published elsewhere
  • AASLH reserves the right to turn down any post that isn’t a good fit for the blog
  • AASLH is not required to use the photos submitted with the post if they are not a good fit; in that case, the blog editor will supply appropriate photos to go with the post
  • AASLH will adjust or replace titles as needed  for consistency and clarity and can make minor edits without author approval


Questions? Email Aja Bain at abain@aaslh.org

The following courses are part of AASLH’s Small Museum Pro! certificate program. If you have completed and passed five of the courses below, please submit this form to request your Small Museum Pro! certificate. 

  • CARING FOR MUSEUM COLLECTIONS
  • COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT
  • DEVELOPING EXHIBITIONS: PLANNING
  • DEVELOPING EXHIBITIONS: DESIGN
  • INTRODUCTION TO FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
  • LEADERSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION FOR HISTORY ORGANIZATIONS
  • MUSEUM EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

The AASLH book series connects the people engaged in history work to new questions, ideas, perspectives, and each other. By featuring news, current issues, trends, and best practices from throughout the history community, our books inform, inspire, challenge, and link together those who preserve and interpret the past.

We welcome book proposals dealing with all aspects of public history, including current trends, timely issues, and best practices for professional development and the overall improvement of the history field. We are especially interested in books that give a fresh perspective to traditional theories, in-depth case studies that reveal applicable and relevant concepts, and subject matter that has the ability to resonate throughout all levels of the field. Proposals are reviewed by the AASLH Editorial Advisory Committee, who may make suggestions for improvement and needed changes before approval. Once a proposal is approved, authors sign a contract with Rowman & Littlefield and are responsible for producing the work within 15-18 months.

AASLH reserves the right to reject material that is not consonant with the mission, values, or goals of the organization. Contact the book series editor Aja Bain with questions at abain@aaslh.org or 615-320-3203.

History News connects the people engaged in history work to new questions, ideas, perspectives, and each other. By featuring news, current issues, trends, and best practices from throughout the history community, it informs, inspires, challenges, and links together those who preserve and interpret the past.

We welcome article proposals dealing with all aspects of public history, including current trends, timely issues, and best practices for professional development and the overall improvement of the history field. We are especially interested in articles that give a fresh perspective to traditional theories, in-depth case studies that reveal applicable and relevant concepts, and subject matter that has the ability to resonate throughout all levels of the field. AASLH reserves the right to reject material that is not consonant with the mission, values, or goals of the organization.

Before committing to a full article, we ask that you submit an abstract here. In 300 words or less, outline the main points of your article and explain how it supports the AASLH mission. Please include your email address so we can follow up with you.

Four times a year, History News magazine brings you the latest discussions, developments, and innovations in the field of state and local history. That mission includes reviewing books on theoretical and practical topics that our members and readers are talking about and using in their daily work. AASLH is building our pool of book reviewers for History News, and we want you to get involved.

Apply to be a book reviewer and share your expertise with the field. We will match you with a book according to your interests, and send you a complimentary copy.

Our reviewers:

  • Have expertise and experience in the book’s topic or sub-field
  • Can discuss how the book will contribute to public history and relate it to similar works
  • Commit to writing a 500-word review that summarizes and analyses the book’s thesis or topic
  • Work with our editors to meet deadlines and craft a great review

Here are some of the titles we've reviewed recently:

And visit our website for examples of great reviews in the style that we look for from the Summer 2015 History News.

Questions? Contact Aja Bain, Program and Publications Manager, at abain@aaslh.org or 615-320-3203.

AASLH serves members working with and for all kinds of historical organizations. As we approach the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026, we will be focusing on reaching small museums and historical societies and on promoting inclusive history and inclusive practices. We invite our members to consider serving on Council (the organization’s board of trustees) or the Leadership Nominating Committee (LNC).  In these roles, you or a colleague can play a vital part in shaping the organization’s future. 

Nominate an AASLH member who is:

  • Passionate about history and its place in contemporary culture.
  • Connected to a network of peers in the field.
  • Willing to both speak their mind and work as a team.
  • Committed to innovation, inclusion, and experimentation.
  • Holds specific skills and expertise in areas of museum or history work.
  • Someone who believes they can make a difference.

You may nominate yourself or nominate a colleague for a position on either Council or for a position on the Leadership Nominating Committee.

Nominations are accepted year-round. For assistance, please contact AASLH at 615-320-3203 or abain@aaslh.org.

The History Leadership Institute Seminar is the best professional development opportunity for mid-career professionals at history organizations of all types and sizes. Since 1959, the HLI Seminar has provided people at all management levels the tools, ideas, and connections to enhance their ability to lead institutions and the field.

Over four weeks—week 1 online, weeks 2 and 3 in-person in Indianapolis, Indiana, and week 4 online—a cohort of about twenty Associates dives deep into a broad range of current and future national issues facing the history and museum field, including purpose, relevance, impact, decolonization, community engagement, equity and access, facilitating change, and much, much more. Through workshops, discussions, activities, and field studies facilitated by dozens of nationally-recognized experts working on the field’s leading edge, Associates tackle the most pressing challenges confronting history institutions and develop strategies for addressing them. The History Leadership Institute challenges history professionals to ask not “Are we doing things right?” but rather to ask “Are we doing the right things?”

To ensure that the seminar experience is as safe as possible, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required and verified prior to entrance. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself and fellow attendees. Requirements regarding COVID-19 testing and face masks during the seminar will be decided later.

For additional details about the program, including dates, lodging, and costs, please visit https://aaslh.org/professional-development/history-leadership.

American Association for State and Local History