December 8, 2011

Presenting to the Charles River Group in Massachusetts

Needham Historical Society in Needham, MassachusettsThanks to Gloria Greis, Executive Director of the Needham Historical Society and head of the Charles River Group of historical societies and museums in Massachusetts, for the opportunity to present The History List yesterday.  (The house and one room school that make up the Society's complex are pictured here on that overcast, rainy December day.)

The institutions included in the group range in scope from the historical societies for Natick, Wellsley, Medfield, Dedham, and other towns, to an historic property in a community, such as the Golden Ball Museum Tavern in Weston or the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, which covers an era in the growth of our country from their converted watch factory in Waltham, to a subject-specific institution, such as the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History in Weston.

The feedback from those who attended was positive and very helpful.


  • Why should I use this instead of the events calendars I use now?  If the others are working for you, keep using them.  In those cases, The History List is an additional outlet.  It's free to list events.  And you know that your event will be among other high-quality events geared toward people who have an interest in history.
  • One executive director explained the problem they are having getting their site updated now that the town has control of it.  The organization's own page on The History List, which will include a description of the organization and will list their upcoming events, will be an additional option for them.   They will control the content, they can make it as detailed as they wish, and they can ensure that it's always up to date.
  • Ease of event entry is critical.  We agree, and it's something that we're focused on and continuing to refine.

Right now, information can simply be cut and pasted from existing material, such as a Word document or a website.  Our goal is to ensure that, once a user signs in, it takes less than five minutes to enter an event.  For some events where the description is being cut and pasted from elsewhere, it may be as quick as two or three minutes.

  • Will people be able to sign up for an e-mail newsletter so they are automatically notified when events are announced?  We've given this a lot of thought and have identified a way to do this that we think is optimal for the user and takes into account subject and distance.  One of the executive directors pointed out that there's a simpler way to do this in the near-term, and we'll probably build out her idea as the first version of this feature.
  • There was a willingness add a logo and link to their newsletters and websites as a way to show their participation and support.  (These would link back to their organization's page on The History List, which will automatically include all of their events.)

The presentation from the meeting introducing The History List is available online.  You can request an invitation to the closed beta for organizations from the home page of the site.

One of the highlights of visiting the Needham Historical Society was seeing the original NC Wyeth painting, "Christmas Morning" (right).  The painting  first appeared on the cover of the December 1913 issue of Scribner's Magazine.

Wyeth was from Needham and the painting was given to the Historical Society by Stimson Wyeth. The wooden shovel in the painting leans against the wall.

My thanks to Gloria and her colleagues for the opportunity to present The History List and for their helpful ideas and support.

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