Readers of H-Rural may be interested in some of the posts appearing lately in the Museums of Minnesota blog on H-Midwest. Many of them are coming from county historical societies in the state. Curators and archivists have been sharing documents and photos from their collections that tell histories from the area that are largely tales of rural life in the upper Midwest.
Op-Ed and letter to Governor Terry Branstad from 10 history department chairs at Iowa colleges and universities:
Associated Press story on misuse of funds by Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs leaders:
The situation in Iowa is depressing.
A larger problem. Most of us make archives and libraries our priority, but we are few in number. Historical societies depend on museum displays for crowds. To a lesser extent, university archives and special collections face a similar challenge. Often they are empty, almost never crowded.
I appreciate Jennifer Van Haaften's commentary about the State Historical Society of Iowa. However, the emotion I would associate with the transformation of the Iowa Historical Society is not excitement, but grief. Before further discussion on this, it is important to get the facts on the table.
This interesting discussion about state historical agencies has prompted me to respond with some thoughts. It would be nice to hear about Minnesota if anyone is on-line that could share. I recall sometime around 2002 Minnesota Historical Society was experiencing terrible cuts to their education departments. I think that was the year AAM was in St. Louis and I attended an EdCom breakfast where this was a topic.
May I ask about cutbacks at university and other archival sites?
I saw this same article circulating on Twitter as well. It reminded me that the Illinois State Museum was having troubles a couple months ago, too. I hunted around and found an update in which it looks like things have gotten worse. I'm sure that situation was pretty political to start with, but the latest news from a month seems especially bad.
We’ve recently put together a panel of papers for SHEAR 2016. The panel will explore intersections of local and national identity through presentations about historical societies in the early republic, the national capital’s first learned society, and prayer services held at the U.S. Capitol.
We are seeking a chair and commentator to help us round out the panel. If you would be interested in one or both of those roles, please drop me a line.
Also, if you've got a paper presentation in mind that you think might fit well. Don't hesitate to let us know.