NCPH Election Results

Dictionary definition of vote

Jumping up and down news! (Okay, I admit that I might be the only one who jumps up and down at this news). I was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Council on Public History (NCPH). Folks can find the complete election results in the March issue of the Public History News publication. Congrats to Kristen Baldwin Deathridge and Kimberly Springle who were also elected to the Board and congratulations to Gregory Smoak to who was elected as NCPH president.

I talk about NCPH a lot. It is a professional organization that I truly care about and the space that I consider my professional home. The folks who I’ve meet though NCPH are a constant source of inspiration.

Each year I come away from the annual meeting with a sense of renewed love for my profession, enthusiasm for emerging public history practices, and possibilities for projects within my own workplace. For example, the Canada-wide Canadian History Edit-A-thon organized by Jessica Knapp and I developed out of an idea we had at the 2017 annual meeting. Details on this year’s annual meeting, which is being held in Las Vegas from April 18-21, can be found on the NCPH website.

I look forward to serving on the NCPH Board and to giving back to an organization I love.

Canadian Archives Summit

On Friday January 17, 2014 the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA), the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA), and l’Association des Archivistes du Quebec (AAQ) are hosting the Canadian Archives Summit: Towards a New Blueprint for Canada’s Recorded Memory.  The focus of the Summit is the future of documentary heritage in Canada and aims to stimulate discussion amongst the Canadian archival community.

 A number of ‘Thought Leader‘ papers have been released in advance of the Summit and can be viewed online.  These papers tackle a number of interesting topics including community archives, archives in a digital world, the public perception of archives, and challenges archives are facing.

The Summit will be held at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto from 8:30am – 5:00pm and simulcast at select sites across the county. The distributed model of delivery is interesting and allows for engagement of archivists who are unable to travel to Toronto.  Granted, the majority of the simulcast and discussion sites are in larger centers so archivists in rural areas or smaller cities may still not be able to participate as fully. 

Full details of the event can be seen here

The New Professional Transition

The transition from student to worker is one that many people struggle with. The transition from new professional to full-fledged member of a profession can be just as challenging at times. New professional groups and grants specifically geared to new professionals can help ease the transition into professional life.  But, what defines a new professional? Years in the field? Years since graduation? Type of position?

The National Council on Public History (NCPH) defines new professionals  as”individuals, such as recent graduates of public history programs, who have been working within the public history profession for less than three years.”  Conversely, the advocacy of the Society of American Archivists roundtable, Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) focuses on “students, interns, new professionals, early-career project archivists, and archivists who are still looking for their first professional jobs.”

Most professional associations have variations on these definitions of new professionals.  Personally I prefer the SNAP definition of new professional as it does not assign an arbitrary timeline to the new professional transition period.   Depending on circumstances becoming fulling emerged in a profession can take as little as a year or as long as several years.  Circumstances which can impact this development might include: type of employment, opportunities for professional development, and opportunities for interaction with others in the field. 

I don’t think there is a magic cut off point where you stop being a new professional.  But, I think over time as your experiences continue to grow, you begin to realize that you have knowledge which others in the field could benefit from.  Perhaps, the biggest part of this transition is gaining confidence in your skills and place inside the profession.  Even the newest professionals have perspectives that are worth sharing — it sometimes just takes awhile for them to gain the courage to share it.

Personally, I had an ‘okay, so maybe I’m further along than I thought I was’ moment when speaking with undergrad and graduate students who are looking at their career and education prospects. I’m at the point where, I can begin to provide some anecdotal examples of job successes and failures, job milestones, and valuable skill building.  I’ve held a number of volunteer and paid positions which emphasize different aspects of public history and I’ve come to realize what type or work I enjoy and what type bores me to tears.  I think this realization is partially what made more confident in my place within the public history profession.  

Mentor programs, professional development courses, and ongoing education have also helped me gain my footing in a new professional world.  Some programs have definitely been more worthwhile than others, but I think talking to other people and continuing to learn new skills are something which all new professionals can engaging in to make their transition easier.

How do you define the term ‘new professional’?  What programs helped you as a new professional? 

Canadian Public History: Where Art Thou?

Credit: Nikopol_TO

Public Historians work in a range of positions within and outside the heritage sector.  Public historians can be found in museums, archives, libraries, academic institutions, corporations, not-for-profits, the film industry, research firms, and other organizations.

In the United States the National Council on Public History is an active professional organization that represents, offers services to, and connects public historians.  Currently, Canada has no similar active national organization.  There is a public history working group under the Canadian Historical Association, but many public historians outside of academia are not involved with this group.

 Currently, the institution I work at is a member of:

Each group has a very specific focus and offers a variety of professional development tools, connections, and resources based on its focus.  A Public Historian working in an archive may find the occasional article in Archivaria or The American Archivist which approaches archival principal from a public history view point, but that’s probably all the PH content one will get.  

I’ve taken to reading The Public Historian and Public History News to get my Public History fix – but since both are American based publications I’m often level longing for Canadian content.  ActiveHistory.ca content helps fill in some of the void in Canadian Public History.  But I’d love to hear any suggestions on where else to turn for new Canadian Public History reading and collaboration.