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With so many clever and informative projects produced by local historical organizations, it strikes me that programs, events, and initiatives can often be inspired by things that we’ve read. What have you read recently that has helped you in preserving local history?

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6 Responses to Local History Reads

  1. Mary Warner says:

    Two books that got me really thinking about museum security are "The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime" by Miles Harvey and "The Rescue Artist" by Edward Dolnick. The first is about a man named Gilbert Bland who went into libraries and museums and cut maps out of books so that he could resell them. The second is about the theft of one version of Edvard Munch’s painting "The Scream." Currently by my bedside, I’ve got "Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper" by Nicholson Baker. I’ve only peeked at it, but it looks interesting.

    Because museums are increasingly being called upon to act more like businesses, I read quite a bit on marketing and technology. My favorites are as follows:

    1. Anything by Seth Godin – blog or books
    2. "Brand Hijack" by Alex Wipperfurth
    3. "Naked Conversations" by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble
    4. "Made to Stick" by Dan Heath and Chip Heath
    5. "The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson
    6. Wired magazine
    7. Discover magazine (this one I read for the scientific content, rather than for business – amazing how much this info has applied to museum work)


  2. David Grabitske says:

    One of the books I’ve recently read is more for businesses also, but has application in nonprofits. It is "Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading" by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (2002). The point of the book was that real leadership often can be risky for the reaction in challenging the status quo. When people feel threatened, they often take aim at those supporting change personally, rather than picking apart the proposed changes. So, the authors give leaders some thoughts on how to handle that. It was a fun and very practical read.


  3. Patty Dean says:

    Maybe this topic (business books for history orgs) should be its own but here are my favorites:

    *http://hbswk.hbs.edu/ is the home page for the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge for Business Leaders which is updated on a weekly basis. I’ve subscribed to their weekly newsletter for years & nearly every issue contains some of use to non-profits on a wide range of topics. It’s free, too!

    *Integrating Mission & Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations, by James A. Phills, Jr. focuses on the "fundamental building blocks of organizational effectiveness: direction, motivation & design", it’s not just another connecting mission to strategy & action book, I marked up nearly every page!

    *Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work, by Debrah E. Meyerson, which I bought at an AAM annual meeting about 3 years ago, contains chapters on such fascinating topics as "who tempered radicals are & what they do, different ways of being ‘different’, resisting quietly & staying true to one’s ‘self’, turning personal threats into opportunities, leveraging small wins…"


  4. Mary Warner says:

    How could I forget James Loewen’s book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong"? The chapter that really stuck with me is the one about how populous the United States was prior to major European immigration. See http://www.uvm.edu/~jloewen/ for info on this book.

    The other book that was historically informative, especially on a local level, was A. Scott Berg’s "Lindbergh."


  5. Mike Worcester says:

    James Loewen also did "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Got Wrong." It has a hilarious section on how the Daughters of the Confederacy has placed monuments to Confederate soldiers in such appropriate places as Montana. Also has one on the Minn State Capitol’s monument about the Spanish-American War and the Phillipine War for Independence.


  6. Susan Hunter Weir says:

    My favorite is "Confederates in the Attic" by Tony Horwitz. Funny, touching, and sometimes scary look at Civil War re-enactors. Set in the South but could be anywhere that "amateurs" take their local history seriously. A wonderful book!


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