CHA Reflections

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) annual meeting held at Ryerson in Toronto, Ontario.  This is the first time I have had been back to CHA in six or more years and I happy to say it was a worth while experience. Though I’m still a die hard NCPH fan I can see that CHA has it’s place and value, especially to those practicing history within the academy.

CHA highlights for me included:

  • Meeting with Active History editorial collective and discussing the future of the Active History project.  The last time I saw many of the other editors was in 2015 at the Active History conference, so it was great to be able to connect in person.
  • The “Decolonize 1867: Stories from the People event” was a great way to start my CHA experience.  The session was organized by Stacy Nantion-Knapper and Kathryn Labelle and featured Catherine Tammaro, Brittany Luby, Naomi Recollet, Helen Knott, Jessie Thistle, and Carolyn Podruchny.  The session was conversational in nature and included presentations focused around visual art, poetry, and storytelling.  The words of the presenters invoked discussions of land, the ongoing impacts of colonialism, and a critical look at commemoration.  Helen Knott’s poem “Indigenous Diaspora: Out Of Place In Place” was a beautiful and thought provoking discussion of land, colonialism, and resilience. Similarly, Naomi Recollet’s presentation of the “Unceded” video showcased the varying views Indigenous communities have to land, legislation, and government relationships.
  • One of the panels I really enjoyed was the The Indian Act: A Contested Technique of Colonial Governance, 1876-Present panel.  This panel featured four presenters focusing on different aspects and interpretations of the Indian Act and the Act’s impact on Indigenous communities.  Many of the papers on this panel subverted the standard colonial narrative and were looking for Indigenous perspectives on the Indian Act – either through oral history, finding archival sources written by Indigenous leaders, or reading government documents against the grain. The panel featured: Chandra Murdoch, “Mobilization of and against Indian Act elections on Haudenosaunee Reserves, 1870-1924”; Anne Janhunen, “Government Responses to Indigenous Political Organizing and Legal Representation in Southern Ontario, 1903-1927”; “Genevieve R. Painter, “Cutting Costs and Constructing Canada: A History of Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act”; Jacqueline Briggs “#PolicyFail: How the Department of Indian Affairs negotiated the dissolution of the assimilation and management projects in the 1960s”
  • I also enjoyed the “Recovering Indigenous Law in Ore-Confederation Land Conveyances to the British Crown, 1764-1864” panel.  In particular, Jeffrey Hewitt’s discussion of “Wampum as Treaty Text” and the idea of looking beyond written text for historical information was something that resonated strongly with me.  Hewitt also discussed the need for settlers to develop literary beyond the written word – and the need to view wampum belts, songs, and dances as valid sources of information.
  • Another highlight for me was connecting with folks I only know online at CHA. It was great to see some archivists and public historians at the conference and so many inspiring women participating in the event.

Things I would like to see more of at CHA:

  • The roundtable format used at the social media panel and the public historians panel worked really well.  The format was conversational and included ample time for discussion.  I would love to see more sessions borrow from this model.
  • More creative based sessions such as the “Decolonize 1867” event which re-positioned historical narratives.
  • More community engaged scholars sharing their work – and community collaborators speaking alongside academics at CHA.  Community voices have value and we need to listen.  This is particularly important when talking about marginalized communities and needing to open up the space to make room for those voices.
  • There was one solid queer history panel but it would have been great to see more queer history throughout the program.
  • More people using Twitter.  At times I felt like the lone conference tweeter in the room.  To see the Twitter archive from the conference visit Unwritten Histories.

Where to Find Me At NCPH

NCH program cover

NCPH 2017 Program Cover

Next week I’ll be heading to Indianapolis for this year’s National Council on Public History conference. The agenda is filled with great sounding panels, roundtables, and workshops.  I’m really looking forward to connecting with other public history professionals and digging into some public history.

I haven’t selected which panels I’ll be attending during the conference but there are a number of events that I’m helping facilitate as part of my role on the membership committee. There are also a number of broader conference events that I definitely plan on participating in. If you’re interested in connecting during the conference I will be at the following events:

  • Membership Committee Twitter Chat (Wednesday April 19, 11:30am-12:30pm) *Virtual – join the conversation using the #ncph2017 hashtag.
  • First Time Attendee and Mentoring Connection Meetup (Wednesday April 19, 5:30-6:00pm)
  • Opening Reception (Wednesday April 19, 6:00-8:00pm)
  • New Member Welcome (Thursday April 20, 7:30-8:30am)
  • NCPH Business Meeting (Thursday April 20, 1:00-1:30pm)
  • Indy Behind the Scenes: Eiteljog Museum of American Indians and Western Art Walking Tour (Friday April 21, 8:45-10:00am)
  • Public Plenary: Making LGBTQ History American History (Friday April 21, 6:00-7:30pm)
  •  2nd Annual Great NCPH Canuck Gathering (Friday April 21st)
  • Awards Breakfast (Saturday April 22, 8:00-10:00am)

You will also likely find me at individual sessions focused on archives, Wikipedia, podcasting, and Indigenous history.

NCPH 2016 Plans

The National Council on Public History (NCPH) conference for this year is almost here.  Next week I’ll be heading to Baltimore, MD for NCPH 2016.  It looks like it’s going to be a great conference with a wide range of panels, walking tours, workshops, and other events.  The full conference program is available on the NCPH website. I planning on taking in a variety of events including:

Wednesday March 16

  • 8:00am-12:00pm “Daring to Speak Its Name” Workshop
  • 5:30-6:00pm I’ll be attending the “First Time Attendee and Mentor/Mentee Pre-Reception” as a Mentor.
  • 6:00-7:00pm Opening Reception

Thursday March 17

  • 7:30-8:00am As part of the membership committee I’m attending the NCPH New Member welcome.

Friday March 18

  • 10:30am-12:00pm I’ll be presenting as part of the “Finding the Embedded Archivist” panel.  The panel is focusing on archival instruction, partnerships between faculty and archives, and teaching about archives in substantial ways.
  • 1:30-3:30pm Membership Committee Meeting
  • 6:00-7:00pm The Uprising in Focus: The Image, Experience, and History of Inequality in Baltimore public plenary.

Saturday March 19

  • 8:00-10:00am NCPH Awards Breakfast and Presidential Address

I”ll also be attending a variety of sessions but if you’re at NCPH in Baltimore and want to connect I’ll definitely be at the above events.

Upcoming Presentations and Conference Travel

I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me with some personal and work related travel on the horizon.  On the personal side I’ll be in Southern Ontario and Buffalo, New York.  As usual while traveling I’ll be keeping an eye out for interesting public history initiatives.

From October 1-4, 2015 I’ll be in London, Ontario at the New Directions in Active History Conference at Huron University College. During the conference I’ll be:

  • Thursday October 1: Running a workshop on “Archives and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission” for high school and undergraduate students as part of Huron History Day.
  • Friday October 2: Jay Young and I will be delivering a workshop titled “Active History in the Archives.”  A description of this workshop can be found in the conference program.
  • Saturday October 3: I am chairing the “Engaging Popular Conceptions of History” panel featuring Jason Ellis, Josh Cole, and Geoff Keelan.
  • Sunday October 4: I am also chairing the New Directions in Active History closing panel made up of Megan Davies, Alan Corbiere, and Hector MacKenzie.

Other than those fixed commitments I’m looking forward to connecting with the Active History editorial collective in person, taking in some of the great panels, and engaging in conversations around active history.  I’m also looking forward to being back in London which I haven’t visited to since I graduated from Western.

2016 NCPH/SHFG Joint Conference Topic Proposals

Last year the National Council on Public History introduced the idea of topic proposals for its annual meetings.  Topic Proposals allow individuals interested in submitting sessions to the conference to receive feedback on their ideas, recruit other panelists, and further develop their ideas with community input, prior to submitting their final proposals to the conference committee.  The History@Work blog has written about last year’s success of the topic proposal idea.

This year the deadline for topic proposals was June 1st.  A complete list of the 40 topic proposals received by NCPH can be found here. There are a lot of creative ideas and lots of people looking for feedback and potential collaborators.  It’s a great way to connect with people who might have similar ideas for presenting at this year’s conference and connect with other like minded public historians.

New Directions in Active History: Institutions, Communication, and Technologies

There is less than a week left to submit papers to the New Directions in Active History conference.  The conference will be held October 2-4, 2015 at Huron University College in London, Ontario more details about the conference and the  CFP are below:

The term “active history” carries with it a diverse range of meanings. In different contexts, it  can refer to: the broader public diffusion of historical knowledge, approaches to research that “share authority” with the communities being studied, a more focused use of historical knowledge as a tool of well thought out public policy and politics, or even specific fora like ActiveHistory.ca. These different meanings and emphases are linked by the ideas that history can and should play a more constructive role in contemporary cultural and political life and that historical knowledge should be much more than a tool of patriotism or the rote memorization of events, dates, and people. In this, it dovetails with recent discussions about the meaning and future of history, from John Tosh’s Why History Matters (2008) to Jo Guldi and David Armitage’s more recent The History Manifesto (2014).

The low cost of websites, podcasts and other digital publishing mediums opened the door to a new form of publishing aimed at communicating these goals, finding common ground with the open access publishing movement. As a primarily web-based project, ActiveHistory.ca is interested in, but is not exclusive to, using the internet to bring historical perspectives to a wide audience. This website, which emerged out of a 2008 symposium, was never intended to be the only approach to active history and we would like to come together again to explore the many approaches to engaged/public/applied/active history.

In marking these varying definitions of Active History, this conference seeks to explore these shifting dynamics through a series of practically-oriented workshops, paper and poster presentations that take stock (or, suggest new directions in) the state of historical knowledge, its uses, and mobilization. Conference organizers are particularly interested in presentations that explore the ways institutions function to enhance or detract from the knowledge of history in popular culture, the nature of historical knowledge as it is mobilized and contested in the wider society, digital approaches to history, or alternative ways of recording, marking, and disseminating and understanding of the past and its processes.

Proposals for papers or posters that address these themes or other aspects of active history are welcome. Proposals should consist of a titled 250 word abstract that includes the author’s institutional and/or community affiliation and contact information along with a one-page curriculum vitae. We plan to publish a selection of conference papers through ActiveHistory.ca’s peer-reviewed papers section in addition to featuring conference-related content on our group blog and History Slam! podcast.

We will also be arranging four specifically focused panels on the following topics. Please indicate in your submission if you would like to participate on one of these panels:

  • Active History, Heritage and Museums
  • The future of public history programs in Canada
  • Community engaged history
  • Active History beyond the Academy

Proposals should be submitted no later than April 15 to Kaleigh Bradley at activehistory2015@gmail.com

Questions or inquiries about this conference can be made at the same address. We are also looking for additional sponsorship for this event. Please contact us, if you are interested in supporting this conference.

Ongoing Challenges: Paper Writing and Committee Work

During the month of December I am participating in #reverb14 as a means of getting my writing habits back on track. I will be altering the prompts as needed to fit within the scope of this blog. Prompt: Challenges.  What did you wrestle with in 2014?  What did you learn?  What challenges do you foresee in 2015?

This past year I wrestled with how to turn down great projects that I simply didn’t have time to do justice to. In 2015 I foresee a few new challenges including:

  • Finalizing a paper on sports images and residential school archives.  This was one of the few projects I took on part way through 2014, as it draws directly on a lot of the work I’ve done with the Rev Father William Maurice fonds in the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  
  • I’m continuing to be part of a couple of public history committees and part of a conference organizing committee. There will be lots of planning and implementation work in the next year relating to those commitments.
  • I will be returning to work in June 2015 after taking seven months off as maternity leave.  This will be another huge life/work adjustment. 

The Year of Prioritization

During the month of December I am participating in #reverb14 as a means of getting my writing habits back on track. I will be altering the prompts as needed to fit within the scope of this blog. Today’s prompt: Coulda woulda shoulda. What didn’t you do this year because you were too scared, afraid, unsure? Are you going to o it next year? Or maybe you don’t want to anymore.

I passed on a number of projects this year that I felt I couldn’t commit enough time to. I stand by my decision to prioritize projects and work toward a balanced life. That being said it was hard to pass up offers to contribute to a couple book projects and conference panels that focused on community archives, Indigenous heritage, and archival outreach.

There is always next year, especially in the case of the National Council on Public History annual conference and various Canadian archival conferences. My status as a new parent has made me acutely aware of the lack of supports built into conferences for parents. I believe the Society of American Archivists has offered minimal childcare arrangements at past conferences but very few academic conferences offer this service. Practically I put conference presenting on hold while I adjust to life as a mother.

This past year has been filled with prioritization. I can’t do everything and I shouldn’t feel the need to try to do everything. I keep reminding myself that saying no is okay.

NCPH Topic Proposals

This year the National Council on Public History (NCPH) introduced a new element for the conference submission process.  The 2015 NCPH Annual Meeting call for proposals included the option of submitting topic proposals.  This option was geared towards people who are interested in presenting but who might be looking for ideas to more fully develop a proposal or who are looking for co-presenters. 

The results of this initiative were 55 topic proposals that include a working title, abstract, and descriptions of the type of assistance the proposer is looking for.  The list of proposals can be seen here.  There’s a wide range of topics and a variety of people looking for collaborators.  If you’re interested in getting involved in NCPH this is a great way to connect with others and get started. 

AAO 2014: Context and Commemoration

Last week I attended the Archives Association of Ontario annual conference in Oshawa, Ontario.  The next few posts are recaps of the conference and some of the sessions I attended.

Keynote
The opening keynote speaker for AAO 2014 was Anthony Wilson-Smith of Historica Canada.  Wilson-Smith’s talk focused on his personal experience with history through journalism and working with Historica Canada.  The talk also centered on the importance of context and the role that archives have in preserving context in a increasingly digital age.  Historica Canada is the largest organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Canadian history and citizenship in Canada.  They are perhaps most well known for its Heritage Minutes.  Wilson-Smith’s talk touched on the Heritage Minutes and discussed how they are meant to be introductions to historical topics and not complete histories. Despite not having a direct archival focus the keynote was engaging and broached a number of digital preservation issues being faced by archivists.

War And The Public Memory
This session focused on war and civic memorials that have been used to facilitate commemoration.  The first presenter, Alexander Comber, focused on “War Trophies of Canada: Paper Trail to Artifact.”  Comber described his efforts to research the history and provenance of war trophies that were brought to Canada following WWI.    Using Library and Archives Canada records combined with photographs, oral histories, and other written accounts Comber aimed to identify the current location of surviving war trophies and document the history of war trophies across Canada.  Much of his research has been compiled in a Google doc and can be seen here.  Comber’s project highlighted the potential and short comings of using archival material to document public monuments. 

The second half of this session featured a presentation by Amanda Hill.  Her work “Beyond The Cenotaph” focused on her work with the Deseronto Archives and ongoing commemoration efforts around WWI. Hill’s presentation focused on her project to learn more about the 34 men listed on the 1923 cenotaph in memory of WWI soldiers.  This project was later expanded to research all men who served from Deseronto including those who were from a nearby Royal Flying Training camp.  Despite occasional research roadblocks and coming up against pay-walled resources Hill’s project has managed to illuminate the personal histories of many of the men from Deseronto.  Some of Hill’s research can be found online here.  Additionally, she has plans to share her research via live historical blogging during the WWI centenary and through other social media platforms.  Overall this was a great example of a community inspired commemoration project that has potential to engage a range of community members.