The NCPH Annual Meeting topic proposal: What is it?

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Annual Meeting, Monterey, California, March 2014. Photo credit: NCPH.

NCPH Annual Meeting, Monterey, California, March 2014. Photo credit: NCPH

You may have noticed a new element in the 2015 NCPH Annual Meeting submission process—the topic proposal. The option to submit topic proposals is intended to increase participation in the development of the annual meeting program and address several issues related to the submission process. An experiment that the National Council on Public History (NCPH) office and the Annual Meeting program committee launched this year, the process depends on the feedback you offer to the topic proposers.

Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of proposals submitted for the conference, which reveals the growing interest in NCPH. Our meeting in Monterey, for example, saw a 40% increase in proposal submissions over any previous year. Many of the proposals, however, were about closely related topics. The topic proposal option may help those interested in similar ideas and themes to make contact earlier in the process. The program committee always receives many worthy paper submissions from individuals, yet sessions created from unrelated topics sometimes do not do justice to presenters’ work. The program committee will continue to accept individual paper submissions, but we hope that some presenters who have great ideas and a project to present will use the topic proposal to meet like-minded people interested in joining forces and, subsequently, submit a proposal for a panel or other complete session format.

Perhaps most importantly, we hope that the topic proposal will give people new to NCPH meetings—including graduate students and new professionals—an opportunity to get feedback in time to revise and refine their proposals before submitting a final version and to find co-presenters doing similar work. By nurturing these new voices, we can strengthen the conference program and learn about emerging projects, research, and perspectives. We believe that sharing multiple perspectives is an important aspect of public history, and we hope that by creating this opportunity for collaboration, the program for the Nashville meeting will reflect the diversity of topics in public history.

What happens next and how can I participate?

The deadline for the topic proposals was June 1. Each proposal includes a working title, abstract, description of the types of assistance the proposer is looking for, key words for the topics the proposal relates to, and contact information for the proposer. At the end of this post there are links to each of the 55 topic proposals we received.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to share contact information for other people the proposer should reach out to, please get in contact with the proposer directly through the link to his/her email.  If you have general ideas or feedback to share, please feel free to use the comments feature at the end of the individual proposal’s page (links to each proposal submission can be found below).

After receiving feedback, the original proposer can choose not to move forward with the proposal or to flesh out the proposal and submit the completed version using the full session or workshop proposal form online by July 15.  All full proposals received through the system by the July 15 deadline will then be reviewed by the Program Committee, and proposers will be notified by September 15 if they have been accepted onto the program for Nashville.

Advice for commenters and proposers

NCPH Annual Meeting, 2014. Photo credit: NCPH.

NCPH Annual Meeting, 2014. Photo credit: NCPH.

As you follow the links below, you’ll see that proposers are interested in a wide variety of topics—from the ethics of historical blogging to new ways of interpreting slavery to questioning the past and future of the National Park Service. The proposers represent the range of people engaged in public history, including practitioners, students, and faculty, including many who are new to the field.

Commenters and proposers should keep the following in mind:

  • Try to respond to what the proposers are looking for. Some are looking for help focusing their topics while others are looking for advice or co-presenters.
  • We hope that proposers and commenters think about the best way to convey information and provoke engagement. Keep in mind the NCPH’s advice to conference presenters and avoid “panels of talking heads and over-reliance on PowerPoint presentations.”
  • As the theme “history on the edge” implies, we are looking for panels that raise new questions, highlight problematic issues, and place projects in a larger context. Try to avoid the “show and tell” approach and don’t be afraid to discuss the implications of your work (success and failures) for public history.

Remember that the program committee ultimately will only be able to accept 60 sessions, so collaboration is the key to get as much diversity in the program as possible.

Please provide comments on proposals by July 3, 2014

~Stephanie Rowe, NCPH Program Manager
~Modupe Labode, 2015 Annual Meeting Program Co-Chair


List of Proposals – Please provide comments on proposals by July 3, 2014

  1. Lee Wright says:

    Is this all of the proposals, have some already been screened out, or is this just those whose authors explicitly asked for participants?

    In late April I submitted a proposal for History Camp Nashville, and it doesn’t appear above. When I submitted it, I also posted it, in its entirety, here, along with additional background information that discusses an event held this spring, History Camp Cambridge, which was the first unconference ever held that was focused on history: . As with that first History Camp, History Camp Nashville would depend completely on the participation of others.

  2. Stephanie Rowe says:

    Thank you for your question, Lee. Proposals listed above are only those that were submitted as “Topic Proposals” through the topic proposal submission form that was designed specifically for proposers seeking feedback or offers of collaboration. These people will then submit their final proposals using the online forms for complete proposals by the July 15 deadline. We did receive your History Camp submission as a completed workshop proposal. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions.

  3. Amanda Zimmerman says:

    Is it too late to submit a proposal for this list?

    My colleague and I have a great project we would like to share, but we need some help in finding others to collaborate with for the conference. Our topic fits perfectly with this year’s NCPH conference topic, and we would like to find like-minded people interested in joining forces to submit a proposal for a panel or other session format.

    1. Stephanie Rowe says:

      Thanks for your question, Amanda. While, unfortunately, it is too late to add new proposals to this page, please feel free to share your idea using some other venues: Send your require to the H-Public Listserv ( where you’ll see a few other folks have done the same.
      You can also post your idea to our LinkedIn Group ( and on Twitter (use #NCPH2015 and also @NCPH and we’ll help spread the word).
      Also, feel free to send me a direct email (rowes [at] with your idea.

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