Heritage Harvest in Salt Lake City
By Heather Kliever
November is the month when my mind starts to think about the year and the things I’m thankful for. This year, I have the great pleasure of thinking back to the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Annual Conference held in October in Salt Lake City that I had the opportunity to attend through an Oregon Heritage Preservation Scholarship. Like a harvest feast on the table, the AASLH conference was an incredible experience in its variety and quality. Most of all, the conference and its speakers sparked thinking on how to connect and combine ideas and concepts to seemingly unrelated people and community groups.
Everyone at the conference was there to learn how to instill the love of our shared American history through creativity and collaboration. This was evident with the easy conversations between people from all types of institutions – from the volunteer-run, small town museum to the Smithsonian; high school graduates through PhDs — happening in workshops, the lobby, chitchatting on the streets in SLC, or during tours throughout the region. Bringing together people from organizations that concentrate on different aspects of our history and the plethora of cultures found within our nation, offered many opportunities to share experience and thought with one another. The social aspect of giving and receiving advice and attending the sessions gave me renewed confidence to create interesting and potentially more innovative ideas to take back to research the collections held by the Lane County Historical Society.
Now that I am back at work, my goal is to take conversations and ideas practiced in at the AASLH conference and apply those skills to connect our artifacts with people and groups outside the museum setting. Approaching artifact research as a project of social and intellectual creativity, made better through community collaboration, will help us create new interpretations and, perhaps a revelation or two, about who we were, who we are and who we will be as both a museum and community in the future.
The next deadline to apply for an Oregon Heritage Preservation Scholarship is December 1, 2012. Learn more at oregonheritage.org.