Ten Ways to Expand Your Local History Network
After nearly a week in Austin, Texas at the 2017 American Association for State and Local History Annual Meeting, the Local History Services staff are back home again in Indiana. We’ve returned with new contacts, new ideas and renewed enthusiasm for our work with local history organizations. Gatherings such as these remind us that the work we’re doing here, and the work our historical societies and museums are doing across Indiana, is mirrored by the efforts of like-minded folks in 49 other states, and in fact, all over the world. The possibilities for camaraderie, networking, advice and idea-sharing are limitless.
But it’s no secret that many (most?) organizations we work with don’t have resources to regularly attend national meetings. So how can local history organizations successfully network with the larger history and museum communities? Let’s explore some possibilities:
- Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Communique, and our monthly collections newsletter, Collections Advisor. These electronic publications are written by LHS staff members who track history, museum and non-profit news throughout the state, as well as nationally.
- Network with other local history folks in the state. You can find contact information for each county on our Local History Contacts page.
- Attend a workshop sponsored by Local History Services. We offer trainings across the state throughout the year. In addition to new learning on a variety of topics, you will also meet and network with other local history organization representatives.
- Join the Indiana Historical Society as a Local History Partner. Enjoy all of the benefits of regular IHS membership, with additional opportunities to connect with LHS and other Local History Partner organizations.
- Visit the AASLH website. You’ll find a plethora of free resources, as well as training opportunities and additional benefits for members.
- Find additional resources from the Fields Services Alliance and the Small Museums Community, affinity communities of AASLH. Field service agents (like your friendly LHS staff) and peers from small museums come together in these forums to provide services and support to grassroots history organizations. (Tip: the Small Museum Community also offers scholarships to attend the AASLH annual meeting!)
- Take a look at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Small Museum Resources page where you’ll find information on strategic planning, building relationships, developing creative programming and managing resources (such as boards, collections and finances). Members are also invited to join AAM’s Small Museum Administrator’s Committee (SMAC).
- Many local history organizations and small museums have taken to social media to spread awareness of their organization, promote events, programs and exhibitions, and to engage with their followers. Facebook is a great tool to see what other organizations are doing and reach out for networking.
- Use hashtags to identify social media content that might be of interest to you. Searches for #LocalHistory or #SmallMuseums on Twitter or Instagram can connect you with organizations around the globe.
- Just “Google it.” Many local history organizations and museums large and small maintain websites. Internet searches can link you with staff at these organizations, as well as content experts, museum consultants and vendors.
We’re here to help you expand your local history network. Do you have any suggestions to add?
Jamie Simek helps organizations get organized. As the fundraising educator for Local History Services, she helps groups build capacity and improve their programming from the inside out. When she's not championing the Heritage Support Grants, you can find her reading historical fiction, feeding her genealogy habit or shuttling her kids between sports fields.