August 18, 2012

Heritage Tourism: Multi-part webinar series

The American Independence Festival in Exeter, NH (July 16, 2011)

The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) is offering a series of free webinars on heritage tourism that are open to you regardless of where you live.  There is no cost, and you do not need to participate in every session, but after the introductory session they ask that you register in advance

Enter each session from this site; “enter as a guest” is selected by default.  Enter your name and click on “Enter Room” to participate.

All sessions begin at 2 p.m. (Eastern) and are expected to run about 30 minutes with an additional 30 minutes for questions and discussion.  Sessions will be recorded and archived for later viewing

September 20, 2012: Introduction to Heritage Tourism

  • The importance of heritage tourism and regional approaches.
  • Introduction to the Heritage Tourism website and ways to network and share resources.

October 4, 2012: Is Heritage Tourism A Fit for Your Community?

  • Assessing the readiness of your community to pursue heritage tourism as an economic development strategy, including determining your community’s assets and resources.

October 11, 2012: Initiating Heritage Tourism in your Community

  • How to assess your community’s potential and conduct an inventory of your community’s assets
  • How to create local interest and engagement by using tools such as community mapping, focus groups, and local surveys.

October 18, 2012: Organizing for Heritage Tourism

  • Determining the individuals and organizations that must be involved in order to create a community-wide approach, and the governance needed to build this effort in your community.

October 25, 2012: Planning for Heritage Tourism

  • How to develop a strategic plan and action plans for your heritage tourism efforts that all in the community can support and that ensure that important aspects of your community are protected and saved.

November 1, 2012: Implementing Heritage Tourism

  • The process, techniques, tools, and resources for marketing your community.

November 15, 2012: Evaluating and Renewing Heritage Tourism

  • The life cycle of heritage tourism efforts and how to determine the impact of heritage tourism efforts on your community.

If you have questions, contact Julie Avery of the NCRCRD.  Julie is a cultural community and economic development specialist with Michigan State University Extension and curator at the MSU Museum.  The NCRCRD, housed at Michigan State University, works with extension services and others in the states of OH, IN, MI, WI, IL, MO, IA, KS, NE, MN, ND, SD.

The sessions will be archived here for later viewing.  

Photo: The 21st Annual American Independence Festival in Exeter, New Hampshire on July 16, 2011.

From the festival site: "On the night of July 4, 1776, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap slaved over his printing press, turning Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten pages into 200 posters that were then sent off to the King of England and the colonies via horseback and coach. New Hampshire’s copy arrived in Exeter, the Revolutionary-era capitol, on July 16, 1776. Twenty-two year old John Taylor Gilman put his life on the line as he read the Declaration of Independence to the townspeople of Exeter.

"Help us celebrate America’s freedom with our popular festival! Join the crowd escorting George Washington down Water Street, see the horseback delivery of the Declaration and listen to the public reading (complete with hecklers!), chat with historic role-players, step to the stirring music of the Lincoln Fife and Drum and delight in the maneuvers and cannon firings of militias. Visit the Traditional New Hampshire artisans’ village, view the original Dunlap Broadside (one of 26 known copies in the world) and early drafts of the U.S. Constitution and stroll Swasey Parkway and Water Street to see local arts and crafts. Enjoy plenty of food, music, sidewalk sales and children’s activities, then stay for the town’s evening fireworks and live band!"

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June 26, 2012

Case study: An online game, iPad app, and 120 lesson plans teach life aboard USS Constitution

Part of an occasional series of case studies on the way in which history organizations are reaching out to new audiences.  Contact us to suggest or submit a case study.


Title: "A Sailor's Life for Me" online game with educational curriculum and a free iPad app from the USS Constitution Museum in recognition of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Description: In this award-winning online game and educational curriculum, “A Sailor’s Life for Me!”  users explore the ship, scrub the decks, and fire cannons.  Meeting real sailors who served on “Old Ironsides” in 1812 compels users to not just learn history, but experience and explore it.  The educational curriculum links directly from the game and includes 120 printable lesson plans and activities for the classroom or home that utilize history, science, math, social studies, art and language arts to explore Constitution and life at sea in 1812. 

Screenshot from "A Sailor's Life for Me" from the USS Constitution Museum

Screenshot from "A Sailor's Life for Me" from the USS Constitution Museum

Screenshot from "A Sailor's Life for Me" from the USS Constitution Museum

Objective: Teach the War of 1812 through the lens of USS Constitution and make this history available to all.

Research and development: The staff of the museum spent more than ten years researching the 1812 crew of Constitution.   Stephen Biesty did the illustrations.  Eduweb did the interactive development.

Funding: The Office of Navy Commemorations and the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Results (with stats through March 15, 2012):

Since its launch in January 2011, the website has had 35,830 visits from 23,345 unique visitors who generated 99,578 page views.

The free iPad app, released in February 2012, has been downloaded 879 times from 59 countries.

Institution: The USS Constitution Museum site and the organization and their events on The History List

For more information, contact Jodie McMenamin, Development Officer at the USS Constitution Museum

Case study date: June 26, 2012

To suggest or submit a case study, contact us.

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June 19, 2012

Case study: A statewide history expo stimulates interest in local history and leads to the creation of new local historical societies

Part of an occasional series of case studies on the way in which history organizations are reaching out to new audiences. Contact us to suggest or submit a case study.

Updated January 24, 2014: Information on the 2014 expo is here.

Title: The Vermont History Expo takes place every two years.

Description: The 2012 Vermont History Expo took place June 16 - 17 in Tunbridge, Vermont, bringing together more than 150 historical societies and related organizations for a two-day event expected to draw 4,000 - 6,000 attendees.

The 400+ photos below include pictures of the print materials and posters and nearly every booth and display.  To view a larger image, click on "Link" on the right below each photo.

Get the flash player here:


Implementation: The Expo, which now takes place every two years, began in the year 2000 and is organized today by staff and a small group of volunteers, with the financial support of several sponsors.  (The pictures above include photos of the posters, which list the 2012 sponsors.)

The idea for the Expo came from an initiative by three counties in 1999 who all agreed to open on the same Saturday.  The next year the Expo was born as a state-wide event with 85 of the state's then 90 historical societies participating.   The Expo continued yearly until 2008, when it switched to every other year.  An annual theme was added in 2005.  These have included "Women in Vermont History," "Travel and Transportation," "Back to the Land," "Industry and Innovation," and this year's theme, "Vermont in the Civil War." 

Results: In addition to the attendance by individuals interested in history, more communities have started or revitalized their local historical societies: Today there are 197 societies in Vermont, up from 90 in the year 2000.

Institution: The Vermont Historical Society and their page on The History List

For more information, contact Mark Hudson, Executive Director (ph: 802-479-8505).

Similar events in other states: When information about this event was posted to a LinkedIn group asking if anyone knew of other states or regions with something similar, several people responded:

  • Jessica Rivas of the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles: "In Los Angeles, we do a much smaller scale event called L.A. Heritage Day for all museums, historical societies, etc. in the greater Los Angeles area. While the event continues to get larger and integrate more things each year we are a long way off from something on the scale of your event. I hope we get there soon this event sounds great!"
  • Kay Demlow: "In Oregon we have the Oregon Heritage Commission, supported by our SHPO, which is part of Parks and Recreation. They provide a regular list serve, which announces events, job openings, achievements and other news from any of the heritage constituents. These include city, county and other historical societies, local landmarks boards and commissions, preservationists, planners, and many more. Once a year they host the Oregon Heritage Conference, which brings us all together for three days of workshops, tours and speakers. It's in a different town every year, so we get to see success stories and hear about issues from other regions around the state. It's a great service to all of us!"
  • Brenda Baratto: "We have the annual Landmark Conference in South Carolina. It's put on by the Confederation of South Carolina Local Historical Societies. Just had this year's in April in North Augusta. What a wonderful way to learn about the local communities, their history and their historical projects and to network and meet colleagues."
  • John Robinson: "In Pennsylvania we have the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, which holds regular conferences. "Pennsylvania’s cultural community is rich and diverse. Museums, galleries, zoos, science centers, visitor centers, historic sites, monuments, parks, libraries, archives, and educational institutions contribute to a new economy of ideas in the Commonwealth. We invite you to join together with us to share best practices in advocacy, economic and community development, education, and cultural tourism."
    "In addition, under the Federation's umbrella is another group. "APACHS, the Alliance for Pennsylvania County Historical Societies, is a network of the Commonwealth’s sixty-seven official county historical societies. Despite a broad range of size and scope of services, county historical societies share common goals and face similar challenges. APACHS creates opportunities to learn from one another, build rapport among colleagues, and provide mutual support. Meetings are held at various locations throughout the year as well as at the statewide museum conference."
  • Martha B. Katz-Hyman: "New Jersey has the New Jersey State History Fair each year in May at Washington Crossing State Park. I've been, and it's a great gathering of local and state historical societies, living history presentations, and demonstrations of all kinds."
  • Vince Murray: "The Arizona History Convention has been active for over fifty years."

Case study date: June 19, 2012

To suggest or submit a case study, contact us.

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February 24, 2012

Case study: Promoting historic tours with daily video clips

The first in an occasional series of case studies on the way in which history organizations are promoting their sites, exhibits, and events.  Contact us to suggest or submit a case study.


Title: "This Day in History" video clips from The Freedom Trail Foundation

Description: Daily video clips, about one minute in length, with a costumed interpreter describing an important event that took place that day in Revolutionary era New England.

View an example on the Foundation's YouTube channel:


Objective: Raise awareness of and generate interest in taking one of The Freedom Trail Organization's tours.  Since the National Park Service offers a free tour, the organization wanted to bring to life the fact that costumed interpreters lead the tours for The Freedom Trail Foundation and give people a sense of that experience.  In addition, this would also create content that could be distributed on their Facebook page.

Implementation: Videotaped by in-house staff using standard consumer-grade video equipment.  The organization already had "the talent" in each of their guides.  The material was in the public domain, but had to be selected and then edited for length.   Music was contributed in return for a credit and link to the performer's site.

Funding: Sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association (2012), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts (2011), and WBUR (2011)

Results:  While the videos varied in quality and suffered a bit early on from an in-house learning curve, each day’s videos generally receive 25 - 200 views and have been well-received by both sponsors and viewers. The resource has also been helpful for schools in both giving their kids a different delivery of historical content and for choosing guides for their future tours.

Matt Wilding of the Freedom Trail Foundation, who formerly was an interpreter on The Freedom TrailMatt Wilding of the Freedom Trail Foundation

Facebook (started 2/2010): 6,082 Likes

Twitter (@TheFreedomTrail) (started 2/2010):  906 followers

YouTube channel (started 6/2010): 395 videos and 67 subscribers

Lessons learned:  Generally, the more lead time for production, the better.  Most errors and production problems could have been avoided with more time on the production end.

Institution: The Freedom Trail Foundation

Created and implemented by: Matt Wilding, Media and Content Manager for The Freedom Trail Foundation, and a former interpreter.

Case study date: February 24, 2012

To suggest or submit a case study, contact us.  Or use this outline to submit a case study.

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