Call for Proposals for NCPH/SHFG Joint Meeting

The National Council on Public History and Society for History in the Federal Government will meet jointly in Baltimore, Maryland from March 16-19, 2016.

The National Council on Public History and Society for History in the Federal Government will meet jointly in Baltimore, Maryland from March 16-19, 2016, and they need your ideas to make the meeting a success.  Public history work is built on the work of others  so this conference needs your presentations, papers, projects and ideas so they can share their knowledge and advance the field.

Formal preservation and interpretation of the past began as a movement to celebrate great men and elite spaces. Slowly, and with difficulty, this is becoming a more democratic and inclusive effort. These organizations believe that public historians have an important role to play in the ongoing work to expand national, state, local, and global narratives. What are the most effective and engaging means for expanding interpretive practices and professional spaces in order to promote full inclusion of previously marginalized peoples and places? To what extent have new, more democratic and engaged public history practices changed museum collections and exhibits, preservation practice, law, and public commemoration? And what happens when formerly disenfranchised publics assert their right to tell their own histories? These questions get at the very meanings of public history and citizenship. As 2016 will mark the centennial of the National Park Service and fifty years of the National Historic Preservation Act,  they invite public historians to explore the promise, the successes, and the challenges of developing a more inclusive public history landscape in the twenty-first century.

Questions to consider:

  • How are successful collaborations between public historians and under-represented communities built?
  • How do new practices including digital history open up narratives and collaborations for public historians that challenge the exclusive past?
  • How do government historians and agencies work with communities, such as Indigenous nations, that share traumatic histories with th government?
  • How do historians establish the trust necessary to work with and within communities of which they are not members? Conversely, how do historian who are community “insiders” experience and navigate the issue of trust?
  • How do we reach public historians practicing outside of established institutions and build a more diverse guild?
  • To what extent have government historians influenced public policy makers? And should they?
  • What are the risks of using traditional great men and great event narratives when highlighting the histories of under-represented groups? Do we ignore or obscure important counter narratives when we follow this course?
  • What role can historic preservation play in revitalizing communities?
  • How can public historians contribute to the preservation of previously marginalized places?
  • How and should activism and public history meet? Can such intersections lead to more inclusive histories?
  • How do public historians weave together local, national, and global narratives to create meaningful histories for all communities?

They will welcome submissions from all areas of the field, including teaching, museums, archives, heritage management, tourism, consulting, litigation-based research, and public service. Proposals may address any area of public history, but we especially welcome submissions which relate to our theme. Sessions are 1.5 hours and significant time for audience discussion should be included in every session.  We urge participants to dispense with the reading of papers, and encourages a wide variety of forms of conversation and session format options, including, but not limited to:

  • Experiential
  • PechaKucha
  • Point/Counterpoint
  • Roundtable
  • Structured Conversation
  • Traditional Three-person-plus-chair/commentator Panel
  • Working Groups (2 hours)
  • Workshops (half or full day).

NCPH and SHFG encourage collaborative sessions between members of NCPH and SHFG.  See the NCPH website at for details about submitting your proposal and be sure to peruse past programs for ideas about new session/event formats.

For the 2nd time, NCPH is offering an optional, Early Topic Proposal deadline. This is for people who are interested in presenting on a certain topic, but are looking for ideas to more fully develop their proposal or are looking for collaborators/co-panelists. Fill out the topic-only proposal form online by June 1, 2015.

Topics received by that date will be distributed to NCPH/SHFG members via email, and posted to the Public History Commons for feedback and offers of collaboration. Respondents can contact the original submitter directly with their ideas or offers, and the submitter may choose to select additional participants, refine the proposal, and complete a full proposal form online by the July 15 deadline.

Final Proposal Deadline: Submit your fully formed session, working group, individual paper, or workshop proposal online by July 15, 2015.
All presenters and other participants are expected to register for the annual meeting. If you have questions, please contact the program committee co-chairs or the NCPH Associate Director.

From: National Council on Public History