National Council on Public History Putting History to Work in the World 2017-07-21T01:56:45Z http://ncph.org/feed/atom/ WordPress editors <![CDATA[Around the field July 20, 2017]]> http://ncph.org/?p=27181 2017-07-21T01:56:45Z 2017-07-21T01:55:40Z From around the field this week: It’s summer! Things are quiet. But the Digital Directions conference is coming up next month in Seattle; online courses on museum storage and grant funding are starting soon; and the Serbian-language magazine of the International Council of Museums is available for the first time in English. Read More

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From around the field this week: It’s summer! Things are quiet. But the Digital Directions conference is coming up next month in Seattle; online courses on museum storage and grant funding are starting soon; and the Serbian-language magazine of the International Council of Museums is available for the first time in English.

AWARDS and FUNDING

  • Funding available for Regional Workshops from Visual Resources Association Foundation (DEADLINE: Aug 15, 2017)

CONFERENCES and CALLS

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

PUBLICATIONS

To submit an item to this regular listing, email us at historyatwork@ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

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GVGK Tang <![CDATA[Project Showcase: The Semiotics of Sex]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26755 2017-07-13T22:07:58Z 2017-07-14T12:30:57Z

A 3D recreation of the Odeon Theater allows visitors to the Semiotics of Sex website to experience virtually the space where the first queer political protest occurred in 1867. This model reveals a version of the historic site that no longer exists.

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A 3D recreation of the Odeon Theater allows visitors to the Semiotics of Sex website to experience virtually the space where the first queer political protest occurred in 1867. This model reveals a version of the historic site that no longer exists. Image credit: GVGK Tang

The Semiotics of Sex: A History of Queer Identity Politics is a multi-platform digital history project that explores various methodologies for historicizing queer activism and identity for public consumption. Through a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the world’s first queer political protest, the project demonstrates that digital tools are a vital resource for public historians interpreting queer history.

This story of the world’s first queer political protest comes from my undergraduate thesis, which examined queer activism and nascent community building in late-nineteenth-century Europe and America. On August 29, 1867, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a lawyer from Lower Saxony, approached the stage of the Grand Hall of Munich’s Odeon Theater. His purpose was to urge a room full of strangers to repeal discriminatory legislation targeting “deviant” sexuality, the German penal code on so-called carnal violations. The assembly of over five-hundred members of the Association of German Jurists turned their attention to Ulrichs as he approached the speaker’s platform “with breast pounding.”[1] He later recalled: “What gave me the strength . . . was the awareness that at that very moment, the distant gaze of comrades of my nature was fixed on me. Should I return their trust with cowardice?”[2]

The political significance of Ulrichs’ protest–the reason why we may identify it as “the first in the world”–is grounded in his act of sexual meaning-making. Ulrichs forged a sexual identity for the express purpose of organizing people to campaign against an issue that affected them collectively (i.e., anti-sodomy laws). Ulrichs pioneered and politicized queer community building by recognizing a shared interest and attempting to build a platform from it.

Digital tools are very useful when trying to reclaim a seemingly lost history, such as that of Ulrichs’ protest. Early narratives of queer politics have long been neglected by our collective historical imagination. Public history is first and foremost an act of making underrepresented histories readily available and understandable for the layperson. Digital tools are crucial in disseminating and making accessible this “new” information by offering a variety of learning methods that are not restricted to a single physical location. They also empower us to document our own histories and destabilize dominant narratives within our own communities, while accounting for the losses that our histories have suffered. Even in the case of a nineteenth-century “white” European man like Ulrichs (and other queers of his time), censorship and time have both played a role in diminishing the historical record. This project seeks to reconstruct some of it.

For example, the Semiotics of Sex website practices virtual heritage by creating a navigable, three-dimensional model of the Grand Hall of the Odeon Theater, where Ulrichs’ seminal protest took place. The model allows us to humanize the event while engaging in site-specific history. It reveals a version of the Odeon that would otherwise remain inaccessible because the original structure no longer exists. Bombs destroyed the Odeon during World War II, and the auditorium area was later reconstructed as a courtyard for the Bavarian Interior Ministry building.

Re-creating spaces in which history was lived, enacted, and experienced—and exploring such re-creations—helps us attach imperfection, emotion, and memory to historic events (contrary to claiming “objectivities” and reciting “facts”). This project’s particular representation of the Odeon can help us, as public historians, to celebrate Ulrichs’ activism, and to offer an alternative perspective to the narratives absent in our history textbooks. It seems appropriate that this project concluded this June—LGBT Pride Month—a time during which we must do better to reflect on, learn from, and honor our community’s roots.

~ GVGK Tang is a public history M.A. student at Temple University in Philadelphia with a specialization in transnational queer history and politics, nascent community-building, and identity construction.

[1] Hubert Kennedy, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement (Concord: Peremptory Publications, 2005), 114.

[2] Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, The Riddle of “Man-Manly” Love. Translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1994), 262.

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editors <![CDATA[Around the field July 5, 2017]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26853 2017-07-12T16:08:21Z 2017-07-04T21:09:54Z From around the field this week: NCPH conference proposal deadline is coming up; applied anthropologists looking for interdisciplinary perspectives on “Sustainable Futures”; new book on women in museums; review of book on US Presidential libraries

AWARDS and FUNDING
Dewey Lee Curtis scholarship from Decorative Arts Trust for fall symposium: “Connecticut: From Capital to Countryside” (Sept 14-17, 2017, Hartford, Connecticut, US; DEADLINE: Aug 10, 2017)

CONFERENCES and CALLS
• Deadline approaching for proposals for National Council on Public History conference, April 18-21, 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada, US (DEADLINE: July 15, 2017)
• “Sustainable Futures,” Society for Applied Anthropology conference – April 3-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (DEADLINE: Oct 15, 2017)

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
• “Salvage and Recovery of Cultural Heritage Collections” course begins July 17 on MuseumStudy.com
Winterthur Institute (lectures and hands-on decorative arts workshops) – Sept 11-22, 2017, Winterthur, Delaware, US

PUBLICATIONS
• New book: Women in the Museum: Lessons from the Workplace (Ackerson and Baldwin)
• Review of Presidential Libraries as Performance: Curating American Character from Herbert Hoover to George W. Read More

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From around the field this week: NCPH conference proposal deadline is coming up; applied anthropologists looking for interdisciplinary perspectives on “Sustainable Futures”; new book on women in museums; review of book on US Presidential libraries

AWARDS and FUNDING
Dewey Lee Curtis scholarship from Decorative Arts Trust for fall symposium: “Connecticut: From Capital to Countryside” (Sept 14-17, 2017, Hartford, Connecticut, US; DEADLINE: Aug 10, 2017)

CONFERENCES and CALLS
• Deadline approaching for proposals for National Council on Public History conference, April 18-21, 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada, US (DEADLINE: July 15, 2017)
• “Sustainable Futures,” Society for Applied Anthropology conference – April 3-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (DEADLINE: Oct 15, 2017)

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
• “Salvage and Recovery of Cultural Heritage Collections” course begins July 17 on MuseumStudy.com
Winterthur Institute (lectures and hands-on decorative arts workshops) – Sept 11-22, 2017, Winterthur, Delaware, US

PUBLICATIONS
• New book: Women in the Museum: Lessons from the Workplace (Ackerson and Baldwin)
• Review of Presidential Libraries as Performance: Curating American Character from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush (Kanter)
• Review of Visual Cultures of Death in Central Europe: Contemplation and Commemoration in Early Modern Poland-Lithuania (Koutny-Jones)

To submit an item to this regular listing, email us at historyatwork@ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

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Melissa Bingmann <![CDATA[Taking the plunge on Humanities Advocacy Day]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26306 2017-06-24T14:37:00Z 2017-06-27T12:30:41Z  

An earlier Humanities Advocacy Day effort in Chicago, 2008. Image: Quinn Dombrowski

Attending Humanities Advocacy Day this spring was a new experience for me. I have been a practicing public historian for almost 24 years working at museums and in the academy, but I had not been particularly active politically until recently. Read More

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An earlier Humanities Advocacy Day effort in Chicago, 2008. Image: Quinn Dombrowski

Attending Humanities Advocacy Day this spring was a new experience for me. I have been a practicing public historian for almost 24 years working at museums and in the academy, but I had not been particularly active politically until recently. On March 14, 2017, I traveled to Washington, DC with colleagues from West Virginia University to talk to our state’s representatives about something I care deeply about: funding for the arts and humanities.

The day of action was organized by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), which boasts nearly 200 member organizations, including the National Council on Public History. NHA is an advocacy coalition dedicated to the advancement of humanities education, research, preservation, and public programs. It also coordinates Humanities Advocacy Day.

This year advocates urged senators and representatives to continue to support funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and other cultural programs that the Trump administration’s budget blueprint proposed eliminating. (The budget bill Congress passed in late April, after Humanities Advocacy Day, left NEH funding intact for the rest of the current fiscal year, but humanities funding remains in danger.)

An appreciation of, and concern for, humanities funding drove my colleagues and me to participate in the day of action. One faculty member in musicology was invited because he had received research funding from the NEH. I had secured a research grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

The NHA provided training, talking points, and information about the senators and representatives we would meet. At the advocacy meeting on the Monday prior to Humanities Advocacy Day three themes emerged.

  • First, participants identified a need for community engagement in the humanities by universities and especially doctoral programs.
  • Second, we discussed the importance of better collaboration with K-12 educators in order to get humanities into the hearts and minds of Americans at an early age.
  • Third, we agreed on the necessity of advocating for the value of humanities training.

In the nation’s capital, the WVU contingent met with staff for Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Representative Evan Jenkins, and Representative David McKinley. After attending the NHA meeting and training the previous day, we decided that, rather than focusing solely on our own research, it was more important to emphasize how the NEH and our state humanities council allowed WVU faculty to work with local communities who care deeply about their past.

Photo credit: Martin Falbisoner via Wikimedia Commons

In order to demonstrate how much their constituents value history, I gave our representatives a few examples of private individuals who purchased historic sites to preserve them and subsequently opened them as museums. I also explained how WVU faculty uses West Virginia Humanities Council grants to make humanities research and historical narratives more widely accessible to West Virginia citizens. My biggest surprise was how much WVU’s recent Research 1 classification meant to our representatives. Knowing this helped us make a case that the NEH supported both the research and land grant missions of the university.

As it turned out, I felt that we were preaching to the choir. All but one of our members of Congress had already joined the Congressional Humanities Caucus. Shelley Moore Capito was one of 23 senators who signed a letter to President Trump expressing support for the NEH prior to Humanities Advocacy Day. The NHA provided us with enough background on each member so that we could show our gratitude for their current and past support.

If you are squeamish about contacting legislators, thanking those who have already shown support may be an easier way to start than cold calling.  Expressions of gratitude and encouragement are important because they show that you know about and appreciate the good work legislators are doing.

With a major Congressional fight over humanities funding expected this fall, advocates for the humanities should learn from our experiences reaching out to legislators as we prepare for the next round of battle. The NHA has online guides that suggest ways to take action and provide lists of advocacy resources.

~ Melissa Bingmann earned her PhD from Arizona State University and is currently Director of Public History at West Virginia University as well as serving on the NCPH Board of Directors. She has worked in museums in Chicago, Arizona, and Rhode Island.

 

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Jennifer Stevens <![CDATA[What’s in a name?]]> http://ncph.org/?p=25853 2017-06-22T12:57:57Z 2017-06-22T12:30:39Z I think it’s safe to say that most historians do not have backgrounds in marketing and branding, and it’s unlikely that many of us took business classes during graduate school. Those of us who take the consultant’s path, however, soon discover the value of marketing expertise. Read More

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I think it’s safe to say that most historians do not have backgrounds in marketing and branding, and it’s unlikely that many of us took business classes during graduate school. Those of us who take the consultant’s path, however, soon discover the value of marketing expertise. Names and logos convey significant messages to potential clients and can be important business assets or liabilities–whether you intend them to be or not. So if you’re striking out on your own, it’s a good idea to put some time into choosing a name and logo that convey what you want them to convey. I did not give any thought to my business’s name or look when I started out, and I wish I had.

When I was in the startup phase several years ago, I focused my energy on building a client base, creating a clear and replicable process, and completing projects. When it came to naming my business, I simply traveled the path of least resistance: my last name first, then a name that explained what I did. It turns out that the name to which I defaulted was remarkably similar to one of my competitors. It didn’t take long before someone at a conference mentioned (in hushed tones) that my business name – Stevens Historical Research Associates (SHRA) – sounded a lot like that other history consulting firm out there, HRA. I didn’t think much about it first, and it took me a few years to realize that this similarity was undesirable. Regardless of the real story, some might think that I had chosen the common name intentionally. But by then, the name had stuck.

I’ve been “SHRA” since about 2005, and before I knew it I actually employed real “associates” and had a well-established set of clients. About six months ago, we made some changes to our business model that reflected our staff’s wide range of skills and the type of clients we have the expertise to serve. To implement some of these changes, we realized that a new logo (the original was “designed” by an online print shop) and a revamped website were in order. We hired a single vendor to do both. Several rounds of logo design later, however, we came to the conclusion that website design and logo design require different skills and talents, so we shopped for a new logo designer.

Without any knowledge of the history of the name “SHRA” or its competition, the new logo designer strongly recommended a name change at our very first meeting. The time seemed ripe and I immediately said yes. But being intentional about a name is a challenging endeavor. In order to leave “SHRA,” I needed a name with professionalism and formality that also captured the work the firm does. It wasn’t something I could do on my own, but it also wasn’t something the marketing firm I hired could help me with. The creative director they brought in for the task came back with a list that included these truly unbelievable nuggets: Anal Retentive, Those Meddling Kids, Ferret, Record Player.

It’s time to launch the new website, and I can’t let the lack of a name or the logo stand in the way. We’ve cut ties with the marketing firm, so for the very near term, SHRA will remain SHRA, and our website will launch with a temporary logo and a name that will/may be changed soon, too.

The entire exercise has been yet another example of something I wish I’d known when I started out. Picking a name and an image to convey your work is more important than you might think. When you begin your consulting career, you may assume, as I did, that your business will remain local and solo and that the name will not mean much. But even if you do stay small, the name you choose may be with you longer than you know and will convey messages to your potential clients. So don’t wait to think about it, do it now!

Jennifer Stevens, PhD, is principal, SHRA/Stevens Historical Research Associates.

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editors <![CDATA[Around the field June 21, 2017]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26634 2017-06-21T12:12:49Z 2017-06-21T12:11:28Z From around the field this week: Travel support for exhibit design workshop in Beijing, Smithsonian research in Washington DC; industrial heritage conference in Baku; online courses on rights and reproductions, care and ID of photographs; reviews of books on historical memory in Kashmir and Brazil

 AWARDS and FUNDING

  • Funding for international participants at Designing Engaging Museum Exhibitions workshop from ICOM International Training Centre (ICOM-ITC) – Nov 6-14, 2017, Beijing, China (DEADLINE: July 15, 2017)
  • Travel Research in Equity Collections (TREC) Short-term Travel Awards at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History for research on disability; gender, LGBTQ and sexuality; and race and ethnicity (DEADLINE: July 15, 2017)

CONFERENCES and CALLS

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

PUBLICATIONS

To submit an item to this regular listing, email us at historyatwork@ncph.org. Read More

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From around the field this week: Travel support for exhibit design workshop in Beijing, Smithsonian research in Washington DC; industrial heritage conference in Baku; online courses on rights and reproductions, care and ID of photographs; reviews of books on historical memory in Kashmir and Brazil

 AWARDS and FUNDING

  • Funding for international participants at Designing Engaging Museum Exhibitions workshop from ICOM International Training Centre (ICOM-ITC) – Nov 6-14, 2017, Beijing, China (DEADLINE: July 15, 2017)
  • Travel Research in Equity Collections (TREC) Short-term Travel Awards at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History for research on disability; gender, LGBTQ and sexuality; and race and ethnicity (DEADLINE: July 15, 2017)

CONFERENCES and CALLS

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

PUBLICATIONS

To submit an item to this regular listing, email us at historyatwork@ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

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Nick Sacco <![CDATA[America’s ever-changing commemorative landscape: a case study at National Statuary Hall]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26430 2017-06-14T16:26:04Z 2017-06-20T12:30:13Z

“Pulling Down Statue of King George III,” painted by Johannes A. Oertel; engraved by John C. McRae, ca. 1875. Image Credit: Library of Congress

On July 9, 1776, General George Washington, his troops, and citizens in New York City heard the Declaration of Independence for the first time. Read More

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“Pulling Down Statue of King George III,” painted by Johannes A. Oertel; engraved by John C. McRae, ca. 1875. Image Credit: Library of Congress

On July 9, 1776, General George Washington, his troops, and citizens in New York City heard the Declaration of Independence for the first time. Inspired by the words of this revolutionary document, opponents of King George III ran towards a statue of his likeness in Manhattan and proceeded to tear it down, later melting it to make bullets for use in their fight for independence. As far as the historical record is concerned, no one present at the event was heard yelling “wait, you’re erasing history!” as the monument came down.

The people at King George’s monument that day understood the complex purposes of public icons in ways we often forget in our contemporary debate about the role of Confederate icons in America’s commemorative landscape. The King George monument was not a neutral commemoration of historical fact but a political statement of values. British leaders erected the statue because they believed their King deserved a public place of honor among the loyal subjects of their empire. By tearing down the monument, these New Yorkers understood that they were making their own value statement: that King George was no longer worthy of honor and not reflective of their changing values. Breaking with the past and forging a new, independent future required the removal of public symbols that no longer reflected the local community’s values. Indeed, it would be rather awkward today to have this monument to a foreign monarch standing in Manhattan simply because removing it constituted “erasing history.”

To be sure, I am not supportive of a one-size-fits-all solution to the country’s Confederate iconography in which all icons must be removed or kept in place. I also believe a distinction should be made between iconography at a historical site and iconography in a public space such as a park or state capitol. But I have come to embrace the fact that America’s commemorative landscape is always changing as society’s values adjust to new circumstances and our understanding of American history evolves. As Kenneth Foote argues in Shadowed Ground: America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy, the meanings we ascribe to historical places sometimes necessitate alterations to the commemorative landscape. We don’t need to take down a monument for the sake of change, nor do we need to keep up a monument for the sake of tradition. We in 2017 have the right to question a monument erected in 1917, and people in 2117 will certainly question any monument we might erect this year. Rather than asking whether a change in the commemorative landscape constitutes “erasing history,” it might be better to ask whether that change is taking place because the history being removed is inaccurate and/or not worthy of being honored. If a change is required, how can public historians use those changes to foster new and better understandings of the past?

National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol

One example of a dynamic commemorative landscape within the United States is National Statuary Hall, located in the nation’s Capitol Building. Created by an act of Congress during the Civil War in 1864, Statuary Hall aimed to utilize the capitol building’s old vacant House chamber for the purpose of promoting patriotism and Union. The act authorized the President “to invite each and all of the States to provide and furnish statues, in marble or bronze, not exceeding two in number for each State, of deceased persons who have been citizens thereof.” Today there are 100 statues that adorn the halls of the Capitol Building. Since each state is only allowed to erect monuments for two of their favored citizens in the Capitol, the passage of time and the creation of new historical events has necessarily created a logjam of noteworthy figures who could hypothetically be included in this illustrious statue collection. In 2000, Congress passed legislation outlining procedures and guidelines for allowing state legislatures to replace their statues within the collection.

The most recent replacement occurred in September 2016 by the state of Ohio when they replaced William Allen with Thomas Edison. Allen was a nineteenth-century Democratic lawyer, representative, senator, and governor of the state who was originally born in North Carolina. In public life, Allen was an ardent expansionist who supported the US-Mexico War and abhorred abolitionism. He strongly opposed President Abraham Lincoln, emancipation for enslaved African Americans, and the entire Union war effort during the Civil War. Nevertheless, in 1887 a sympathetic Ohio state legislature donated a statue of Allen to Statuary Hall.

The Thomas Edison Statue at National Statuary Hall. Photo Credit: Architect of the Capitol

In recent years many Ohioans questioned the wisdom of keeping Allen’s statue in the capitol. The Ohio Historical Society conducted a poll in 2010 that found most residents opposed his presence there. In a uniquely democratic process, the historical society established an online election in which residents voted among a number of candidates—including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jesse Owens, and Ulysses S. Grant—and chose Thomas Edison in 2012 to replace Allen. Contrary to heated accusations of “erasing history” in today’s Confederate iconography debate, no one challenged the right of the state’s residents to change their representatives in Statuary Hall. The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation to erect a statue of Edison, and the formal ceremony introducing him to Statuary Hall took place on September 20th. Allen’s statue was removed with little fanfare to the Ross County Heritage Center in Chillicothe, Ohio. Edison’s ceremony, meanwhile, was attended by politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Nancy Pelosi. Despite Edison’s limited experiences in Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown argued that his accomplishments were reflective of the state’s spirit. “We are a state of inventors and pioneers—of dreamers and creators, always reaching for the next frontier,” he asserted.

Other monuments have been replaced on Statuary Hall with little controversy since 2000. Dwight Eisenhower replaced George Washington Glick for Kansas in 2003; Ronald Reagan replaced Thomas Starr King for California; Helen Keller replaced Confederate officer Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry for Alabama in 2009; and Gerald Ford replaced Zachariah Chandler in 2011, among others. I would also not be surprised to see Robert E. Lee’s statue someday replaced or at least challenged within the state of Virginia.

Historical iconography powerfully symbolizes patriotism, shared values, and emotional memories of the past. But as Tim Lacy and other historians argue, we should be skeptical of the proposition that these icons function primarily as history lessons when the bulk of a society’s understanding of the past is actually shaped by history classrooms, textbooks, movies, TV documentaries, and visits to national parks and museums. Regardless of how public historians and the rest of society might view changes to public spaces, those changes reflect the basic premise that there is always an invitation to redesign America’s commemorative landscape. As societies reassess their pasts and work to create a better future, the historical figures and events they choose to honor in public spaces sometimes change to reflect those contemporary values. Public historians often view iconography in positive terms for its educational value, but what, exactly, a society learns from these artifacts requires further analysis. How public historians can use their skills to aid communities throughout the country currently discussing controversial iconography constitutes one of the most difficult questions in the field right now.

~ Nick Sacco is a public historian who works as a park guide with the National Park Service at Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. He holds a master’s degree in history with a concentration in public history from IUPUI. The views expressed in this essay are solely the author’s and do not reflect the views of the National Park Service.

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Beatrice Gurwitz <![CDATA[Next steps in the fight to #SavetheNEH]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26323 2017-06-12T23:05:21Z 2017-06-15T12:30:10Z

Image credit: National Humanities Council

Two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, we awoke to reports that the transition team was contemplating a proposal to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Read More

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Image credit: National Humanities Council

Two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, we awoke to reports that the transition team was contemplating a proposal to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). On March 16, after almost two months of near silence on the subject, the administration released a budget blueprint even more threatening to humanities programs than had been initially reported. The administration’s proposal not only recommends the elimination of the NEH and the NEA, but also the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Additionally, it calls for the “reduction or elimination” of the Department of Education’s Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs.

Over the past four months, the National Humanities Alliance has been working in close partnership with NCPH and our other members to demonstrate support for the NEH. This campaign has resulted in nearly 150,000 messages and phone calls to Members of Congress and President Trump. A record-breaking number of humanities advocates joined us in Washington D.C. for Humanities Advocacy Day in March, visiting their congressional offices and making the case for robust funding for the NEH and other humanities programs. Advocates have published op-eds highlighting the local and national import of the NEH. Subsequent to the release of the budget blueprint, we have also launched grass-roots campaigns in support of the other agencies.

Since the Trump administration released its plan in March, our attention has turned primarily to Congress, which will ultimately decide whether and at what level to fund the NEH and the other cultural agencies for FY 2018. As Congress begins its work, the budget committees will release their Congressional Budget Resolutions, which set an overall spending limit, but whose recommendations for specific discretionary programs are just advisory. The appropriations committees in each house will then draft twelve appropriations bills proposing funding levels for all discretionary spending, including for the NEH and other humanities programs. If those bills clear their committees, the full House and Senate will have to pass them. Finally, bills from each chamber will need to be reconciled in a conference committee. This is a long process that will likely stretch into the fall. Proposals to eliminate funding for the NEH and other humanities programs could gain traction at any point.

Reasons for Optimism

Trump’s budget proposal is just a proposal. Members of the appropriations committees have their own agendas and priorities, and have been largely supportive of the NEH and other humanities funding, particularly in the last two years. After passing a $2 million increase for NEH in FY 2016, Congress passed another $2 million increase for FY 2017 in early May. Further, Republican members of the House and Senate subcommittees that allocate funds to the NEH and the NEA have gone on record supporting the programs even in the face of the President’s proposal for FY 2018. Finally, letters to the president and to the appropriations committees requesting a $5 million increase for the NEH in FY 2018 have received bipartisan support.

Causes for Concern

While we anticipate that the appropriations committees will be supportive of the NEH, the upcoming FY 2018 appropriations process is likely to be prolonged and contentious as Congress struggles to abide by budget caps that were put in place as part of the 2011 budget deal. While the current cap may be renegotiated, if the resulting cap is still low, the Trump administration’s efforts to increase defense and military construction spending would necessitate severe cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. This would leave the NEH, along with a wide range of other domestic programs, vulnerable to deep cuts or even elimination as appropriators are forced to make difficult choices. If the new budget cap is higher, appropriators will have more room for domestic spending.

We are also concerned that the call from the Trump administration to eliminate funding for the NEH, the NEA, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will embolden those within Congress who have long sought to defund these agencies in particular. While this is unlikely to happen within the appropriations committees, opponents of the NEH could introduce an amendment to eliminate funding when either chamber considers the appropriations bill or during negotiations over the differences between House and Senate appropriations bills.

Advocacy Strategy

Image credit: National Humanities Alliance

Given these concerns, we are working to raise awareness of the work that the NEH supports around the country and the diverse communities it serves. We are encouraging leaders of higher education institutions and other humanities organizations—as well as individual NEH grantees—to write letters to the editor about the transformative impact of the NEH. We are also working to expand our list of grassroots advocates so that members of Congress receive as many calls and messages as possible at critical points in the appropriations process.

NCPH has been an indispensable ally in these efforts. Individual members can also play a key role as well. By starting with our Take Action page, you can sign up for our action alerts, write your member of Congress, and share these links to our resources with family, friends, and colleagues. Sharing this advocacy campaign and other social media assets will help expand our network and demonstrate to Congress the deep support for NEH across the country.

While it is important to build support among all members of Congress, the support of particular members will be key at certain stages of the appropriations process. By signing up for our action alerts, encouraging others to do the same, and sharing our alerts on social media, you will also increase the likelihood that we can reach advocates in key districts.

This challenge to the NEH and other humanities programs has inspired an outpouring of support for federal humanities funding. Over the coming months, it is critical that we continue to mobilize even more advocates to increase public awareness of the impact of these programs and to ensure that members of Congress continue to hear from their constituents.

~ Beatrice Gurwitz is associate director of the National Humanities Alliance.

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editors <![CDATA[2018 NCPH Annual Meeting topic proposals are in!]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26333 2017-06-12T16:56:30Z 2017-06-13T12:30:21Z At the beginning of May, NCPH opened up our Call for Proposals for the 2018 annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the theme “Power Lines.” The theme is apt for a conference in Vegas, and especially timely in the current political climate as we evaluate how power shapes our professional and personal lives—and what power we might have as public historians to shape the future. Read More

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At the beginning of May, NCPH opened up our Call for Proposals for the 2018 annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the theme “Power Lines.” The theme is apt for a conference in Vegas, and especially timely in the current political climate as we evaluate how power shapes our professional and personal lives—and what power we might have as public historians to shape the future. For more about “Power Lines” and the program committee’s vision for the 2018 conference, please read the post by program co-chairs Priya Chhaya and Benjamin Filene, which you can find here.

This year, as in the past few years, NCPH offered an optional early topic proposal deadline. Those who chose to submit a topic proposal online by June 1 now have the opportunity to get feedback from the NCPH community before the final proposal deadline of July 15, 2017. In recent years, as the NCPH conference has grown in size, we have found this extra step to be a useful tool for connecting like-minded public historians for collaboration and conversation. This ability to float proposals in advance of the July deadline tends to result in strong final proposals that reflect a broader diversity of experiences and perspectives—and thus, strong sessions, working groups, and workshops.

Here’s where you come in: we need you, the NCPH community, to tell topic proposal submitters what you want to see next spring in Las Vegas. If you’re considering submitting a full proposal yourself, you might connect with someone doing similar work or facing similar challenges. If you hope to attend, this is a way to help shape the annual meeting’s Program content from its very earliest stages.

Visit the Topic Proposal page to view the 48 topic proposals we received this year (you can click on “View Proposals” on the left-hand sidebar to open the full list). Each proposal includes a working title, description, and the submitter’s contact information. Proposals are tagged with key topics to help you quickly identify ones that are most relevant to your interests and expertise.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or want to pass along someone else’s contact information, please get in touch with the proposer directly via email. Otherwise, we encourage you to leave general feedback in the form of a comment at the end of the individual proposal’s page. We ask that you share your thoughts by Sunday, July 2, 2017.

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editors <![CDATA[Around the field June 7, 2017]]> http://ncph.org/?p=26311 2017-06-07T12:55:35Z 2017-06-07T12:54:44Z From around the field this week: Showcase of collaborative history projects in UK this weekend; program now online for conference on digital “placeless memories”; summer field programs in the Hudson Valley of New York; review of book on US World War I memorials. Read More

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From around the field this week: Showcase of collaborative history projects in UK this weekend; program now online for conference on digital “placeless memories”; summer field programs in the Hudson Valley of New York; review of book on US World War I memorials.

 AWARDS and FUNDING

CONFERENCES and CALLS

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

PUBLICATIONS

To submit an item to this regular listing, email us at historyatwork@ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

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