American Association for State and Local History

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American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)
FounderChristopher C. Crittenden
TypeNon-profit association
HeadquartersNashville, TN
Region served
United States
Key people
John Dichtl, Bethany Hawkins, Norman Burns, Burt Logan, Christy Coleman

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is a non-profit association for state and local history, with a primary focus on history professionals, history volunteers, museums, historical societies, and other history-related organizations and public history professionals. Since 1964, it is headquartered in Nashville, TN, and currently has about 3,200 institutional members, 1,300 individual members, and 34 academic program members.[1][2] The organization has 11 full-time staff members.[3]


In 1904, the American Historical Association, itself at the time a fledgling professional body, established the semi-autonomous Conference of State and Local Historical Societies to serve the leaders of those agencies. In 1939, a group of Conference members, chaired by Christopher C. Crittenden, director of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History, proposed the creation of an independent entity. Its job would be to better coordinate the activities of historical societies and stimulate the writing and teaching of state and local history in North America. On December 27, 1940, the Conference of State and Local History met and disbanded itself. Then the American Association for State and Local History was born. Its first charter stated that AASLH's purpose was, simply, “the promotion of effort and activity in the fields of state, provincial, and local history in the United States and Canada.”[4]

  • 1904: American Historical Association establishes Conference of State and Local Historical Societies
  • 1940: Conference of State and Local Historical Societies seceded from the American Historical Association. The mission was "the promotion of effort and activity in the fields of state, provincial, and local history in the United States and Canada."
  • 1940: Began publishing books
  • 1945: Establishment of awards program
  • 1968: Began publishing Technical Leaflets
  • 2002: Adopted statement of professional standards and ethics
  • 2005: Began developing STEPS program
  • 2009: "Dispatch" became an all-digital publication
  • 2010: Launched STEPS program[5]


AASLH publishes a quarterly magazine called History News. A series of instructional articles called Technical Leaflets are published quarterly and distributed with History News. AASLH also publishes books through Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group including Nomenclature 4.0,[6]Small Museum Toolkit,[7] and the Interpreting History series.

STEPS (Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations)[edit]

In 2009 AASLH launched the "Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations," or STEPS. This program helps small- and mid-sized history museums, historic sites and houses, including all-volunteer ones, assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future. As opposed to a certification program, STEPS is a self-study program without a set timeline. Participating organizations use a workbook to assess and improve operations. They achieve certificates from AASLH after completing sections. As of 2021, over 1,100 organizations have participated.[8]


AASLH sponsors, advocates, and lobbies on behalf of state and local history at the national level through strategic partnerships with several organizations. In 1998, it began its American Indian Museums Program (AIMP) to advocate for and provide professional development to America's tribal museums. In 2004, it spearheaded a movement advocating for a new federal program within the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Office of Museum Studies to provide grants to states to facilitate statewide support for museums, with funds granted to states, where states would then re-grant funds to museums depending upon each state's needs.[9]


AASLH awards Certificates of Merit to individuals and organizations to recognize their outstanding contributions to local history and genealogy, such as those awarded to the East Tennessee Historical Society,[10] New Brunswick Genealogical Society[11] and Heinz History Center.[12]


AASLH began holding an annual meeting in 1941. Today, the association has two conferences: the in-person annual conference and the online virtual conference.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Association Office to Move to Nashville". History News. 19 (5). March 1964. ISSN 0363-7492.
  2. ^ "2021 AASLH Annual Report" (PDF). AASLH. 2021. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-08-05. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  3. ^ "Staff Directory". AASLH. Retrieved 2022-08-05.
  4. ^ "The Story of Us". AASLH. Archived from the original on 2015-09-10.
  5. ^ "History News | the AASLH's History News Community". Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  6. ^ Bourcier, Paul, Heather Dunn, and Nomenclature Task Force, eds.Nomenclature 4.0 for Museum Cataloging. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015
  7. ^ Catlin-Legutko, Cinnamon, and Stacy Klingler. The Small Museum Toolkit. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012
  8. ^ "AASLH 2021 Annual Report" (PDF). AASLH. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  9. ^ "Federal–State Partnership for Museums Coalition". AASLH. Archived from the original on 2015-09-20.
  10. ^ "Awards of Recognition". East Tennessee Historical Society. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  11. ^ "Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics". Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. 1953-08-25. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  12. ^ "Awards & Honors". Heinz History Center. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  13. ^ "AASLH Annual Conference". AASLH. Retrieved 2022-08-05.

External links[edit]