The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has announced the results of the first ever National Census of History Organizations, an effort to research the size and scope of the history community in the United States.
Funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the “History Census” represents the first national effort to produce a high-quality, up-to-date, comprehensive list of the country’s thousands of history museums, historical societies, and related organizations.
The initiative identified 21,588 history organizations in the United States, a number organizers say represents a floor rather than a ceiling.
Through the analysis of this data, the American Association for State and Local History has been able to identify some of the fundamental characteristics of their field, assess major strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for improved practice and further research.
Among the findings of the study were:
- History organizations are ubiquitous in the United States, with a presence in nearly every community around the country. History organizations exist even in places that often are underserved by other arts and culture organizations.
- Public history operates through a deep and distinct hybrid model, a partnership between government and private nonprofits. This hybridity is a source of strength for the field, but also poses challenges for data collection, comparison, and collaboration across different communities and states.
- Engagement with and access to history is imbued with a sense of public purpose. All sorts of organizations, from the smallest to the largest, place community and public benefit at the center of their work.
- Private nonprofit history organizations are overwhelmingly very, very small. Among the nonprofits in our History Census data file, more than 60 percent reported annual revenues of less than $50,000; more than 80 percent reported revenues of less than $200,000; and more than 90 percent reported revenues of less than $1 million.
For more information or to download the report, click here.