Rachel Boyle and Hope Shannon co-authored this post.
Like many of you, we’re gearing up for our trip to Hartford for the National Council on Public History’s 2019 annual meeting. We’ll be there by Wednesday afternoon and look forward to immersing ourselves in the camaraderie and paradigm-shifting conversations so typical of this conference. This is our favorite annual meeting and our intellectual home base and we’re so thankful to everyone involved in its organization. We’re especially grateful to the NCPH staff, program and local arrangements committees, sponsors, and other volunteers who build such a welcoming space year after year.
One of our favorite things about the NCPH annual meeting is the plethora of ways to meet and engage other conference attendees outside of traditional sessions. NCPH does a great job making these events as meaningful and productive as everything else on the conference program. Below, we share some of the non-session events that we’re most looking forward to and offer some thoughts on why you should include an ample number of these in your conference schedule. This guide is not meant to be an endorsement of these particular events or a slight to those we didn’t choose—we just want to highlight some of what makes NCPH’s annual meeting a highlight of our year!
So, without further ado, here it is: Omnia History’s Guide to NCPH 2019.
For a compact, day-to-day schedule, scroll to the bottom.
*Events with an asterisk require pre-registration. Ask about availability at the registration desk.
Joining a workshop at NCPH is an intensive, hands-on way to kick off the conference and build tangible skills. Thanks to an ill-timed Spirit(-crushing) flight, I will miss most of the workshops, all of which look great. I especially recommend:
W3. Starting and Growing a Historical Research Business*
Meeting Room 23, Wednesday, 8 AM to 12 PM
Hope and I attended last year and found both affirmation of our business strategy as well as new ideas and insights we had never considered. It is definitely well worth the time for any emerging consultant.
W4. “Reacting to the Past” and Public History*
Meeting Room 24, Wednesday, 8 AM to 12 PM
Several of my colleagues (Hope included!) have used RTTP in their classrooms and have reported enthusiastic and meaningful student engagement. This workshop should be great for any history instructor or professor at NCPH.
The Consultants’ Speakeasy*
Cityside Lounge, Level 6, Thursday, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
We went to the Consultant’s Speakeasy at last year’s annual meeting in Las Vegas and had SUCH a good time. We made several new connections and talked about everything from professional advice and resources to our pets and what we liked most about our trip to Las Vegas. Everyone we met was very welcoming. You don’t have to work in consulting to attend!
Cityside Lounge, Level 6, Thursday 8 PM to 9 PM
Stick around Cityside Lounge after the Consultants’ Speakeasy for the mixer hosted by the NCPH Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Task force members will talk about their “ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive and welcoming conference and organization.” We recommend attending and learning more about what the task force has done and its plans for the future.
On The Fly (Hope)
On the fly sessions provide space on the program for conversations about issues that emerged or escalated in importance in the months between the deadline for proposals and the annual meeting. These are great options for anyone interested in how public historians are responding to pressing present-day issues. My number one on-the-fly pick is:
“Toppling Confederate Monuments at UNC-Chapel Hill: Black-led Student Movements, Antiracist Organizing, and (Extracted) Labor”
Ask about location onsite, Saturday, 3:30 PM to 5 PM
I’ve attended several sessions about public memory and monuments at NCPH and AASLH annual meetings over the past few years and am glad to know that the discussion will continue in Hartford. These sessions are among the most powerful I’ve attended at any conference meeting, ever. Unfortunately, my flight leaves in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday and so I won’t be able to attend in person, but I’ll be watching Twitter for updates while en route to Chicago.
Speed Networking* (Rachel)
Ballroom A, Level 6, Thursday, 10 AM to 12 PM
Making connections with other public historians is by far one of my favorite parts of the NCPH annual meeting. We get to learn about fantastic projects, problem-solve shared challenges, and gain fresh perspective with dynamic folks across the country. The speed networking session adds a little structure to these conversations and results in a room full of public historians connecting and learning from each other. Having attended this event a number of times, I offer one pro tip for those on the job market: treat these conversations like an informational interview rather than a job interview. Here are some useful questions to ask:
- What is your favorite part of your job?
- What is the most challenging part of your job?
- How did you end up in your position? What jobs did you have before this?
- Have you ever experienced [challenge that you are currently dealing with]? How did you approach it? Is there anything you learned or would recommend?
Pop-up presenters usually engage attendees in one-on-one conversations or though hands-on workshops. Choosing a pop-up session was tough– there are so many great options on the program– but ultimately I decided to attend the one about bystander intervention training.
Pop-up: “From #MeToo to Prevention: Bystander Intervention Training for Public History and Museum Professionals”
Meeting Room 12, Friday from 10:30 AM to 12 PM
Sexual harassment and discrimination at small public history sites and museums is a particular concern of mine (I wrote about this here a couple of months ago). This pop-up session takes an expansive approach to this topic and promises to “equip public history and museum professionals with the skills to become engaged bystanders in their workplace and communities in order to prevent sexual harassment and assault.” For me, this session is an absolute must.
Working Groups (Rachel)
This year’s stellar slate of action-oriented working groups are tackling inclusivity, preservation, interpretation, and more. As a member of the Ethics and Economic Justice working group, I am especially excited about the announcement of the Public History Workers Caucus, a community of practice that will meet monthly to connect, build solidarity, and increase visibility for public history workers. Want to learn more?
- Join our working group session on Saturday from 1:30-3:30 PM in Meeting Room 12
- Chat with any member of the working group throughout the conference (we’ll be wearing signs!)
- Take this online survey now or get the link from us during the conference to share what issues are most important to you as a public history worker
- Tweet your ideas and questions using the hashtags: #ncph2019 #wg8
Poster Session (Hope)
Ballroom A, Level 6, Thursday, 5 PM to 7 PM
I’ve attended poster sessions at many conferences, but NCPH’s poster session is always my favorite. The presenters share posters covering a wide array of topics relating to public history and museum practice. This sets it apart from panels and roundtables, which organizers tend to group around a common theme. That’s perfectly fine and as it should be, but the posters run a much broader gamut and leave you feeling intellectually exhausted in the best way. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and sip it as you mingle– I’ve left many a poster session hoarse from talking with presenters more loudly than I usually do in order to be heard amid the many other conversations taking place. It’s 100% worth it and everyone should stop in at the poster session and do at least one tour around the room.
“Considering Coltsville: A Revolving Story”
Center Church, 60 Gold Street, Friday, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
Neither Rachel nor I can attend the plenary (we have a prior commitment that evening), but it’s so important that we wanted to include it here anyway. We look forward to hearing about it afterward. Maybe someone will write about it for History@Work? Fingers crossed.
Speaking of tweeting, NCPH is the champion of Twitter-friendly conferences. When the program is so jam-packed with enticing panels, following live tweets is about as close as you can get to attending multiple sessions at once. Live tweeting can also feel like a form of active listening and processing, and can so often initiate meaningful conversations that expand beyond the time constraints of a given session. The conference hashtag is #NCPH2019 and you can follow Omnia History at: @HistorianHope and @Raboyl.
Schedule by day:
8 AM to 12 PM– W3: “Starting and Growing a Historical Research Business,” Meeting Room 23
8 AM to 12 PM– W4: “Reacting to the Past” and Public History, Meeting Room 24
10 AM to 12 PM– Speed Networking, Ballroom A, Level 6
5 PM to 7 PM– Poster Session, Ballroom A, Level 6
5:30 to 7:30 PM– The Consultants’ Speakeasy, Cityside Lounge, Level 6
8 PM to 9 PM– @NCPHInclusion Mixer, Cityside Lounge, Level 6
10:30 AM to 12 PM– Pop-up: “From #MeToo to Prevention: Bystander Intervention Training for Public History and Museum Professionals,” Meeting Room 12
6 PM to 7:30 PM– Public Plenary: “Considering Coltsville: A Revolving Story,” Center Church, 60 Gold Street
1:30 to 3:30 PM– Working Group: “Ethics and Economic Justice” and the Public History Workers Caucus, Meeting Room 12
3:30 PM to 5 PM– On the Fly: “Toppling Confederate Monuments at UNC-Chapel Hill: Black-led Student Movements, Antiracist Organizing, and (Extracted) Labor,” ask about location onsite