January 31, 2012
Meeting with The Massachusetts Historical Society, Historic New England, the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, the New England Genealogical Society, the Freedom Trail Foundation, and the New England Museum Association
Over the last few days of January we introduced The History List to some of New England's—and the nation's—leading genealogy, historic preservation, and museum organizations.
Our thanks to . . .
- Pat, President of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists
- Ryan and Tom at American Ancestors, formerly known as the New England Historic Genealogical Society (est. 1845)
- Carol at the Massachusetts Historical Society (est. 1791) and to Dennis, the Society's Executive Director
- Rob at Historic New England, founded in 1910 as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities—I still find that name charming—and today the owner of 36 historic properties throughout New England
- Matt at The Freedom Trail Foundation, whose costumed guides portray characters from the period as they conduct the official tours of trail, and to Mimi, the Foundation's Executive Director
- Dan, Executive Director of the New England Museum Association
. . . for their interest, questions, suggestions, and support in meetings and briefings over the last few days. Each organization puts on dozens of events a year, and a few put on more than 100 different events.
Our initial group presentation took place in November with presidents and board member at all-volunteer historical societies. Following that was a December meeting with executive directors of the historical societies, historic building organizations, and history museums that are part of the Charles River Group.
The major points of feedback from our most recent meetings, along with where we stand with each:
- A submission form that makes entry easy and allows for a complete listing—Text can be cut and pasted from Word, other documents, and sites while maintaining basic formatting and without introducing odd characters or spacing. There is essentially unlimited space for text and pictures formatted in the way the organization wants.
- Ease of entering repeating events—The time we've invested in handling the multitude of repeating event scenarios seems to have paid off. We were told that we've made it easier than any other event entry form used.
- Institution hours—An area that we've been working on and will improve further.
- Covering all types of locations—The ability to handle all locations—cities and towns as well as properties that may be far off the beaten path—has been a central part of The History List from the outset.
- Reaching beyond their base—The History List provides a way to reach both individuals in the area and those traveling to the region that they don't reach with their own site and list.
- Reaching a younger audience and the future—Through the web and mobile (see below).
- Focused on the type of person they're trying to attract—The focus on history creates a positive editorial environment and gets them in front of the very people they wish to reach.
- Analytics are of interest—Analytics will be added, though probably after the launch.
- Tools to include events from different partners into one calendar—We are exploring this based on the use cases we were given.
- Mobile—It's been a part of the vision from the earliest days and is definitely on our roadmap.
We also received this challenge: "Win the Revolutionary War!" And we took it to heart, working now to make a special effort to reach organizations and institutions closely related to the Revolutionary War, in New England and throughout "the Colonies," to enlist their participation in this early stage. (Our scope remains national and the focus is history into the mid- to late-20th century.)
Coming up, we'll meet with representatives of the USS Constitution Museum—"Old Ironsides" gained its legendary status during the War of 1812, whose bicentennial is being celebrated starting this year—and with the Bostonian Society (est. 1881), which operates the Old Statehouse Museum.
If you and your history-related organization would like to meet about or receive access to The History List, let us know. In the coming weeks, we'll be in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Washington, DC and are interested in hearing from organizations in or near those cities.
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