The Value of History and the History Relevance Campaign

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As historians, we are passionate about the importance of history. Convincing others of that importance is as crucial as the work we do researching, teaching, and presenting history. The OAH, along with 29 other history organizations (to date), have endorsed the History Relevance Campaign’s statement, The Value of History. The History Relevance Campaign (HRC) began in 2012 as a discussion among historians and educators and continues to grow and evolve. The HRC has held sessions and informal discussions in a variety of settings, including the American Alliance of Museums advocacy day, and the annual meetings of the American Historical Association, National Council on Public History, and American Association of State and Local History.

The Value of History was written to help counter the marginalization of history in American society. It highlights the seven ways the History Relevance Campaign and its supports believe that history is essential:

To Ourselves

  • Identity – “History nurtures personal identity in an intercultural world. History enables people to discover their own place in the stories of their families, communities, and nation.”
  • Critical Skills – “History teaches critical 21st century skills and independent thinking. The practice of history teaches research, judgment of the accuracy and reliability of sources, validation of facts, awareness of multiple perspectives and biases, analysis of conflicting evidence, sequencing to discern causes, synthesis to present a coherent interpretation, clear and persuasive written and oral communication, and other skills.”

To Our Communities

  • Vital Places to Live and Work – “History lays the groundwork for strong, resilient communities. No place really becomes a community until it is wrapped in human memory: family stories, tribal traditions, civic commemorations.”
  • Economic Development – “History is a catalyst for economic growth. People are drawn to communities that have preserved a strong sense of historical identity and character.”

To Our Future

  • Engaged Citizens – “History helps people craft better solutions. At the heart of democracy is the practice of individuals coming together to express views and take action.”
  • Leadership – “History inspires local and global leaders. History provides leaders with inspiration and role models for meeting the complex challenges that face our communities, nation, and the world.”
  • Legacy – “History, saved and preserved, is the foundation for future generations. History is crucial to preserving democracy for the future by explaining our shared past.”

Read The Value of History statement in its entirety here.

An ongoing project of the History Relevance Campaign is the Impact Project. Geared specifically toward history organizations, the Impact Project helps these organizations learn from one another about best practices for giving history a positive and lasting effect within their communities. It also seeks to make visible to decision makers, such as governors and state legislators, the positive economic, social, and cultural impact that history organizations have at the local and state levels. Read more about the Impact Project here.

For a variety of ways you can support the goals of the History Relevance Campaign, visit www.historyrelevance.com to see how you can promote history in your community.

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