Telling Untold Histories Unconference at Rutgers-Newark

Thank you to all the sponsors and attendees who made the Telling Untold Histories concert at Rutgers-Newark a huge success!



Every place, every person, and every object has a history, but not all histories are told. What if your museum, historic house, archive, library, or school chose one little-known person, place, or thing and decided to tell its story? How would you do so? What would it look like? How would that story change the usual historical narrative? How would it change your institution?

Telling Untold Histories—New Jersey’s annual unconference on public history, museums, cultural heritage, and education—is a forum for exploring how we can channel our passion for more inclusive histories into innovative public work in our state and region. We consider this task in its widest vision and in its everyday institutional realities: how do we, in other words, perform this crucial, ethical work within the constraints of time, funding, and personnel?

Curators and educators, archivists and archaeologists, oral historians and librarians, historic preservationists and community activists, and grantmakers, funders, and history lovers are all welcome to attend the unconference.

This year, Telling Untold Histories was  held on May 13, 2016, at Rutgers-Newark from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Because we value the knowledge you bring, this unconference put you at the center. Unlike traditional history conferences, the specific content of our discussion sessions comes from the participants themselves, rather than formal papers. Sessions were chosen the day of the unconference, so the attendees decided which topics were discussed. Here are some ideas that may have been touched on:

  • Using material culture to reveal hidden histories
  • Lessons from (successful and not-so-successful) collaborations with communities
  • How public history can address contemporary social issues such as mass incarceration, immigration, and police brutality
  • Showing that parks and other natural places have histories
  • New Jersey is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse states in the country. Who is telling the histories of Latino/as, Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and others?
  • The role of archives in defining what counts as history
  • We’ll be updating this space with more information, including how to register, soon. In the meanwhile, stay connected with us on Twitter as @untoldhistories or send us an email at to be added to our mailing list.

There were four unique workshops scheduled for the event, which ran concurrently. Upon arrival at the unconference, attendees chose which one they wanted to attend. The workshops were:

Coping with Copyright in Public History

Join April Hathcock for a session on navigating the ins and outs of copyright issues that arise when working with public  history material. We will practice making public domain determinations, conducting fair use analyses, working with Creative Commons licenses, and completing due diligence searches for owners of orphan works. There will also be plenty of time for in-depth Q&A, so come prepared with your thorniest copyright questions!

April Hathcock, a former corporate attorney, is Librarian for Scholarly Communications at New York University and educates the research community about issues relating to ownership, rights, and access in the scholarly life cycle.

A Historypin How-to for Beginners

Historypin is a mapping website that enables its users to tell the history of a community by layering historical images, videos, and sound onto a map. This is a workshop for beginners—participants will learn how to create their own Historypin collection using photos, videos, and audio. Please bring your laptop or tablet for a hands-on exploration of this rich online resource.

Kristyn Scorsone is a master’s degree student at Rutgers-Newark in the history program with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is currently working on a Historypin map of Newark’s murals.

Jumpstarting Community Documentation Projects: Tools & Tips from StoryCorps

Join StoryCorps staff for an interactive workshop designed to provide participants with the tools and resources to highlight and celebrate the voices of their communities through interview collection, public programming, and the development of locally focused archives and exhibitions. The workshop will feature an overview of the StoryCorps interview methodology, examples of successful community-driven projects, as well as a brief tutorial on how to most effectively use the StoryCorps app at your institution.

Facilitating Great Conversations

Great conversations can bring people together, shift hearts and minds, and unlock new ways of thinking. Yet pulling off a good conversation is harder than it looks. Join expert facilitator Erika Halstead for an interactive workshop that will get you ready to lead your own meaningful discussions. During this hands-on session, you’ll find out how to choose the right starting point, craft questions that get people talking, and  get people coming back for more!

Erika Halstead has led community engagement and educational programs for more than fifteen years. She has trained hundreds of people in the art of facilitation and has spoken about leading and developing discussion-based programs at conferences nationwide.

To learn more about Telling Untold Histories, click here.