August 2008

Among AAM’s projects is museum advocacy on a national level.  Recently, they sent Tammis K. Groft, deputy director of collections and exhibits at the Albany Institute of History and Art, to Washington as a “citizen-lobbyist” to speak to a committee about the importance of NEH Preservation and Access Grants.   She wrote a few blog posts on the subject on the AAM’s advocacy blog.  PAG grants are a major way museums of all sizes fund collections stewardship projects, and the funding for the program is slated to be cut by 50% next year.  Contact your elected officials to advocate for NEH conservation programs!

The Humanities Advocacy Network is also a great resource for humanities advocacy, including preservation and history programs.  You can sign up to get action alerts and email your representatives from the page.

I’d love to see more blogging from AAM or other organizations on museum and history advocacy issues.  The wrangling over appropriations can be very opaque, and a human voice really helps to clarify issues and make advocacy work seem much more possible for small museum professionals and those without much lobbying practice.  (My occasional posts about Minnesota cultural legislation don’t cut it.)

All this is prefatory to mentioning that AAM’s museum advocacy day will be February 23-24, 2009:

AAM is pleased to invite museum professionals from around the country to
Washington, DC on February 23-24, 2009 for Museums Advocacy Day.  During the
two-day program, participants will be briefed on AAM's legislative agenda and
will learn how to effectively communicate the value of museums to public policy
makers. The second day will consist of visits to Capitol Hill where advocates
will make their case to Congress.

In 2009, a new Congress and a new administration will begin working on a wide
range of issues, including funding for museum programs and the reauthorization
of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  We need to make our
voices heard!

February 23 will be a day of advocacy training, where you will:
hear from a range of Capitol Hill experts about the political landscape in 2009
be briefed on AAM's legislative agenda for museums
get tips about meeting with elected officials and the stats you need to make
your case
learn how to participate in "year-round" advocacy, engaging elected officials
in the ongoing work of your museum
network with advocates from your state about your upcoming Capitol Hill visits
attend an evening reception with Members of Congress and staff invited
Tuesday February 24 we will take our message to Capitol Hill. Advocates will
gather in groups by state to make coordinated visits to House and Senate
offices to make the case for continued federal support for museums. Museums
Advocacy Day will begin on Sunday, February 22, with optional visits to your
favorite Washington, DC museums.

"There could not be a more critical time for museum advocates to make their
case on Capitol Hill," said AAM President Ford Bell.  "With so much at stake,
we need to effectively communicate the value of museums to our elected

For more information please contact our Government Relations team at (202)

Stay tuned for more details about the final program.

But for now, SAVE THE DATE - February 23-24, 2009!

John Lynch from Arizona State has been developing a nice list of history of science blogs/blogs written by historians of science, which is very exciting because it’s a great resource and also because I’ve been meaning to do such a thing for ages and now I don’t have to.  The list is shortish, but there really aren’t that many specifically history of science blogs (and PH is obviously a public history blog first and foremost).   So go check out his list and propose other blogs in the comments.

[Johnson] said that great parts were not requisite for a historian, as in that kind of composition all the greatest powers of the human mind are quiescent.  “He has facts ready to his hand, so he has no exercise of invention.  Imagination is not required in any high degree; only about as much as is used in the lower parts of poetry.  Some penetration, accuracy and colouring will fit a man for such a task, who can give this application which is necessary.”

Boswell’s London Journal, 6 July 1763.

Won’t someone syndicate Boswell (like, for example, Pepys)?  It would be lovely to have some 18th prose in my feed reader every morning.

Are you coming to Pittsburgh in November? The History of Science Society will be meeting with the Philosophy of Science Society Nov 7-9, 2008 in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

The session I organized, F26, To Market: A New Look at the Medical Marketplace, will take place Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm. You can check it out on the preliminary program (note: we’ve had some personnel changes in the session that the program doesn’t yet reflect; our final panel includes Deborah Levine, Jeremy Greene and me, and will be commented by Gwen Kay.)

Also, for emerging professionals, we’ll be having the second ever meeting of the Graduate and Early Career Caucus at Friday lunchtime. Show up and meet fellow early career folks and get stuff done.  It is also likely that we’ll be sponsoring a happy hour. GECC is also sponsoring a session on publishing:

From Dissertation to Book: A Roundtable on First-Time Scholarly Book Publication
HSS 2008, Pittsburgh, PA
Friday, 12-1:15pm

*Jacqueline Wernimont, Brown University
*Roger Turner, University of Pennsylvania
Karen Darling, The University of Chicago Press
Doreen Valentine, Rutgers University Press
Marguerite Avery, The MIT Press

*session organizer

Dissertations are written to demonstrate advanced mastery of a discipline and are an important step toward full participation in the scholarly community. The dissertation is often the first extended piece of scholarship produced by a student, and it is likely to have been conceived and executed within constraints shaped by the student’s institution and its faculty. Moving from dissertation to book involves shedding these constraints and revising the work to make it valuable to a broader readership. At this roundtable, editors from the University of Chicago Press, MIT Press, and Rutgers University Press will share their insights into particular issues in first-time scholarly book publishing, including understanding the difference between a book and a dissertation, finding and working with an editor, submitting a book proposal or manuscript, and the future of the print monograph in scholarly publication. In addition to participant presentations, there will be time devoted to discussing pre-submitted questions, as well as questions that arise during the session. The Graduate and Early Career Caucus is sponsoring this session, which will be chaired by GECC co-chair Jacqueline Wernimont.  Please submit advance questions to Jacqueline Wernimont ( by October 27th, 2008.

Looking for other familiar historians presenting at HSS? Here is my exclusive and probably not complete list of papers from Minnesota HSTM students, alums and faculty at HSS 2008, based on a glance through the preliminary program. Each person’s name is followed by the session number (coded as follows:  day (F, S, Su) and number in that day).

Hiromi Mizuno F2

David Sepkoski F3

Megan Barnhart F5

Deepanwita Dasgupta F21

me F26

Al Martinez F29

Tania Munz F30

Christine Manganaro S3 (don’t miss this awesome talk about the science of race in Hawai’i!)

John Jackson S3

Ioanna Semendeferi S12

Georgina Montgomery Su1

Michael Reidy Su4

Requests for emendations are encouraged.

I also counted exactly 3 history of medicine sessions, though a number of sessions have one Hmed paper included. Not a huge deal, since it’s obviously not the focus of the conference. I may yet go through and count all the independent scholars and public historians.  Stay tuned and see you in Pittsburgh.

I am extremely delighted to announce that I have been appointed Associate Curator of Technology at the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.  Not only is this an opportunity to work with fantastic collections and fantastic people, it’s also an opportunity for me to move back to my hometown of Detroit.  I’ll be doing work on the history of recent technology and working on web projects and all sorts of other things at “America’s greatest history attraction.”

So, what does this mean for the blog?  I will still focus lots of energy on local history and the small museum situation (small history museums are staying strong at about 60% of American museums!), but expect to see rather less Minnesota-centric content. I probably won’t be telling you the news from Fergus Falls anymore, but will be doing more regional museum and public history coverage.  Also, I hope to be doing Detroit history/preservation work as a volunteer, so I’ll be able to give you some volunteer (or maybe board) perspectives on the local history scene.  I am very happy, also, that my epic job search is over, and I will give you a stats post and summary of my job search presently, as an example and perhaps as a caution to emerging public historians and museum professionals.

Though I’ll certainly miss my museum colleagues and all my friends in Minnesota, I’m excited for this terrific new opportunity.  I start September 15.  See you in Detroit!