AASLH’s Leadership and Advocacy Initiatives

As the professional association for history practitioners and institutions throughout the country, AASLH takes on a major role providing leadership and advocacy for the history field. By building coalitions around key issues, developing and monitoring best practices for the field, and advocating on behalf of the history community with public officials at the national, state, and local levels, AASLH strives to advance the field and to better position history as a critical component of American life.

Advocacy Initiatives

AASLH knows how important it is for all public officials  (local, state, and national) to know about the vital work historical organizations do to educate the general public. History makes citizens more thoughtful about the decisions they make and their consequences and helps them better understand contemporary challenges.  In addition, history organizations make a massive contribution to the American economy each year through tourism revenues, taxes, job creation, and a host of other means. Through advocacy alerts, lobbying, and direct communication with public officials, AASLH makes sure key decision makers know about the essential work of history organizations and understand the critical role history plays its in a democratic and civil society. Below are just some of the ways AASLH helps advocate for the field.

AASLH is a leading member of the National Coalition for History (NCH) and holds a seat on the NCH policy board. NCH is a consortium of over 50 organizations advocating on behalf of federal legislation and regulatory issues affecting historians, archivists, teachers, researchers, and other stakeholders. Priorities include federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Archives and Records Administration, including the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the National Parks Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the declassification of federal records.

Each year, the American Alliance of Museums organizes Museums Advocacy Day, a two-day event that brings hundreds of museum professionals from around the country to DC to advocate on behalf of the field to state and national legislators.

AASLH sponsors AAM’s Museums Advocacy Day (MAD) every year and our council meets in concert with MAD so that council members may participate in the two-day event.

AAM and AASLH also cooperate on other important advocacy issues as they arise.

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) monitors and takes action on a range of federal funding and policies issues that affect work in the humanities. AASLH works with the NHA to share important humanities advocacy messages with our members.

Leadership Initiatives

AASLH provides leadership for the field in other ways as well, particularly through our convening of and involvement in coalitions focused on key strategic issues facing the history community. By participating in critical field-wide conversations and convening stakeholders from throughout the history community around major questions, AASLH helps ensure that the field is continually looking towards the future. Many of the projects and strategic initiatives in which we are involved are listed below.

AASLH is a key partner in the History Relevance initiative, a coalition of history organizations dedicated to promoting a shared language, tools, and strategies to mobilize history organizations in the United States around the relevance and value of history. History Relevance supports history organizations that encourage the public to use historical thinking skills to actively engage with and address contemporary issues and to value history for its relevance to modern life. The initiative developed the “Value of History” statement, which more than 250 history organizations around the nation have endorsed. To learn how your organization can endorse the statement and use relevance to shape your work, visit historyrelevance.com

As the United States prepares to commemorate its 250th (or “Semiquincentennial”) anniversary in 2026, AASLH has begun convening a task force dedicated to developing goals and plans on behalf of the history community. Through this effort, AASLH is monitoring national and regional commemoration plans as they develop, serving as a clearinghouse of information for history organizations and practitioners as they begin preparing for the anniversary. The task force, in conversation with stakeholders throughout the field, has also begun developing major goals for the field. These goals will help align activities from stakeholders at the state, local, and national levels as history organizations approach this major event. AASLH is also in communication with other national initiatives, including the Congressional Semiquincentennal Commission, to help ensure that the values and goals of the history community are represented well in national commemoration efforts.

Each year, AASLH convenes a gathering of the leaders of state-level history organizations around the country. This group represents the diversity of state organizations, encompassing both public and private institutions with varying sizes and missions. But they share a common scope, and this meeting offers their leaders an opportunity to convene and discuss the challenges facing their institutions and the field, share ideas and questions, and develop creative and collaborative solutions. By bringing together the leaders of these organizations, AASLH provides a venue in which state-level history organizations can think broadly about the future of the field.