May 7, 2012

The History List: Now open to all history-related organizations

We opened (quietly) late last week so that other organizations can begin to participate.  This follows a six-month beta that included The Freedom Trail Foundation, Historic New England, the Bostonian Society, the USS Constitution Museum, and several smaller historical societies (including the Marlborough Historical Society in Massachusetts)  and museums (incl. the Smith-Appleby House Museum in Smithfield, RI and the Adirondack Museum in New York) as well as other organizations (incl. the Vine Lake Preservation Trust in Medfield, Massachusetts).

Thanks to Matt, Rob, Samantha, and Jodie for jumping in with both feet from the get-go, listing their events, and providing feedback throughout, and to everyone we talked with who provided suggestions and encouragement.  And to Deb and Ann at Old Sturbridge Village who told us within a few hours of opening that they will list all of Old Sturbridge Village's events.  

Getting started is easy:Sign in or request an account

Request an account if you don't have one already.  Sign in if you do.  And don't worry, if you've forgotten your password, just click on "Sign in" and you can recover your password.  (See the screenshot to the right.)

Enter information on your current and upcoming events and exhibits—Entering information is cut-and-paste simple, all of the formatting is maintained, and you have essentially unlimited space for a description and for pictures.

And because anyone who has an account and is signed in can add or edit information, organizations have a lot of flexibility with adding and updating their information.  Large organizations can have a summer intern or have a few different staff members enter and update information.

Smaller organizations may wish to ask a volunteer to add the information.  This may even be the right approach for some very large organizations, such as those with a formal "friends" group or a large number of docents who handle events or give tours.

Updated: May 12, 2012: Use this one-pager as a guide.

Enter information about your organization or site—Similar to entering information about your events, entering information about an organization is quick and easy.  And all of the events from the organization will show up automatically at the bottom of the organization's page. 

For the typical smaller organization with ten events, it should take roughly 30 minutes to enter the information about the events and to set up the organization's page.  This means that, once a year, an organization can publicize their events to anyone anywhere for an investment of 30 minutes time.

Questions?  Feedback?  Let us know.

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April 19, 2012

"The Historians are coming! The Historians are coming!"

Updated April 17, 2016: They've now banned ladders. Thanks to John Bell for the update.

It was on this date in 1775 that that alarm was sounded in towns west of Boston.  And tomorrow, historians from around the country will gather in Milwaukee for the annual Organization of American Historians / National Council on Public History conference.  (We don't know whether the residents of Milwaukee have also been warned, but we hope to receive a warmer welcome than did the Regulars who marched to Lexington and on to Concord those many years ago.)

In fact, the ride of Revere and Dawes, and the reenactments that take place every year were two things that inspired the creation of The History List

You can spot one notable item in this photo from the 2009 reenactment: A ladder.  Who knew you needed to bring a ladder to see over the heads of those who arrived before dawn to get a place on the perimeter of Lexington Green?  Answer: Anyone who had attended before.  One of the goals of The History List is not just to help people find interesting history-related events, exhibits, and sites, but to also provide tips on how to get the most out of them.

See the update from 2016 at the top of this post.

If you're attending the conference, I hope you join me for this "dine around" Friday night: "Putting the 'Public' in 'Public History:' Strategies and ideas for getting more people into historical museums, sites, and landmarks."

It's for anyone involved with an historic site or museum, or with a history-related event, this is an opportunity to share your ideas and learn from others about how you attract a crowd: What worked, what didn't, and what you're considering doing in the future.  Based on the interests of the group, we may consider the role of social media, free versus paid media, working jointly with other organizations, and branding or rebranding your event.

And we're headed a few blocks from the hotel to the King & I Thai Restaurant at 830 North Old World 3rd Street.  They have a large selection of Thai dishes, including several vegetarian choices, and the full menu is online.

We've arranged for separate checks, and the reviewers on Yelp give it 4 out of 5 stars.  You must sign up in advance; I'm told that space is limited. 

Looking forward to meeting you in Milwaukee.

If you want to read about a couple of event or site promotion ideas in advance, there are two here: One promoted a new cable channel and could be adapted to our history-related events.  The other is a marketing campaign involving daily video created by The Freedom Trail Foundation.  (Video of both in the posts.)

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April 17, 2012

Bringing history to life and generating interest in your event

One of the biggest challenges we face is generating interest and excitement despite tight and sometimes shrinking budgets.

Here's an original, innovative, compelling, and on-strategy way that TNT, the American media channel, launched in Belgium.  It's very easy to see how someone might use this same approach--perhaps toned down a bit--to bring people face to face with history and raise interest in an upcoming event or exhibit.

And note the extraordinary social media reach, with 20+ million views on YouTube since its April 11 introduction.


Updated April 2013: A similar approach, though for a very different institution:

From the note explaining the video: 

The slogan "Our Heroes are Back'" is used to announce that, after an absence of one decade, all major pieces in the Rijksmuseum's collection are back where they belong. This is what happens when they suddenly emerge in an unsuspecting shopping mall somewhere in The Netherlands. With the support of main sponsor ING, entrance to the museum is free on the 13th of April from 12:00 to 00:00.


Updated: October 31, 2014: Another creative breakthrough from the Rijksmuseum, this time with a navigation aid.

the Paper Pathfinder for the Rijksmuseum, a map that expands to show relationships between floors.

As explained in an article in Fast Co Design:

The Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum has 100 rooms, housing more than 8,000 paintings and art pieces. . . . 

To help out confused museum-goers, Marjin van Oosten, a Dutch graphic designer based in New York, created the Paper Pathfinder for the Rijksmuseum. It pops up from compact 2-D form into a miniature 3-D paper model of the museum building, giving you an instant, visceral sense of the layout of the space. It requires no tape or operating instructions, and you can fold it back into its 2-D form and stow it in your bag or pocket when not in use. The Paper Pathfinder has just won a Dutch Design Award at Dutch Design Week.



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