Minnesota Local History

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Advice and help with building history capacity.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Firefighters Hall and Museum

By: Joe Hoover | May 15, 2012
The Firefighter's Hall and Museum, in Northeast Minneapolis, is dedicated to preserving vintage firefighting equipment as well as running a research library and a meeting hall for area firefighters.

The museum which features fire trucks,  fire engines and rescue equipment going back over 100 years also provides interactive exhibits as well as fire safety training for children.



Saint Louis County Historical Society

By: Joe Hoover | May 8, 2012
Saint Louis County Historical Society, much like the Minnesota Historical Society, is a full service history organization. In addition to its own exhibits on lumbering, mining, and many other locally significant stories, SLCHS operates Veteran's Memorial Hall on behalf of the Saint Louis County Commissioners. Civil War veterans began Vets Hall, which like SLCHS also started in the Saint Louis County Courthouse. SLCHS has won national awards for a number of its exhibits. The expertise shown in the video is shared with affiliate history organizations throughout Saint Louis County. The reuse of the Duluth Union Depot, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as a cultural center of many local organizations has preserved the historic use as a community gathering space.



Swift County History Museum

By: Joe Hoover | May 2, 2012
The Swift County History Museum is located on the west edge of Benson off of U.S. Highway 12. The museum features artifacts that depict the history of Swift County. Many of the artifacts are displayed in period room settings – dining room, living room, bedroom, general store, church, school, etc. The museum also features decade exhibits for 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.



Tri River Pioneer Museum

By: Joe Hoover | April 20, 2012
The Tri-River Pioneer Museum is the only building built to be a museum in Red Lake County. As the video shows very well, it is a fairly typical local history museum led by a very dedicated group of volunteers who have sacrificed much in order to make the history of the Plummer area much more accessible.



Grant Workshop with Access Philanthropy

By: Joe Hoover | Funding | April 17, 2012
Full day grant workshop at the Blue Earth County Historical Society with presenter Steve Paprocki, President, Access Philanthropy.

This is a combined podcast with all four sessions for a combined length of 4 hours. Watch the presentation or download the audio.



MHCG: Planting the Seeds of the Green Revolution

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | April 3, 2012
On site review of the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants funded project with Elisabeth Kaplan, Head, University Archives & Co-Director, University Digital Conservancy, University of Minnesota Libraries. June 17, 2011.

The University of Minnesota Libraries received funding support to digitize the records of the principals of the Green Revolution, the worldwide collaborative effort to expand food crop production that traces its roots to the University of Minnesota in the first half of the 20th century. The project’s centerpiece is the Norman E. Borlaug Papers, which are complemented by the collections of his colleagues and mentors, including Elvin C. Stakman, John Gibler, and Helen Hart, and the Plant Pathology departmental records, and are frequently used by students, faculty, and independent scholars.

University Archives selected approximately 58 boxes of materials directly related to the Green Revolution for digitization. These comprise a variety of formats including photographs, correspondence, field notebooks, and other materials. With this project, University of Minnesota Libraries expanded use of the Green Revolution collections by creating digital surrogates of the materials, delivered via a web-based, publicly available, full-text searchable database.

The University of Minnesota Libraries received funding support to digitize the records of the principals of the Green Revolution, the worldwide collaborative effort to expand food crop production that traces its roots to the University of Minnesota in the first half of the 20th century. The project’s centerpiece is the Norman E. Borlaug Papers, which are complemented by the collections of his colleagues and mentors, including Elvin C. Stakman, John Gibler, and Helen Hart, and the Plant Pathology departmental records, and are frequently used by students, faculty, and independent scholars.

University Archives selected approximately 58 boxes of materials directly related to the Green Revolution for digitization. These comprise a variety of formats including photographs, correspondence, field notebooks, and other materials. With this project, University of Minnesota Libraries expanded use of the Green Revolution collections by creating digital surrogates of the materials, delivered via a web-based, publicly available, full-text searchable database.

Using your iPhone/iPad to Record Oral History

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | March 12, 2012
Using an IPad to record Oral Histories
Modified image Wikimedia Commons.


First let me admit this is not the last word on using an iPhone to record oral histories, it is just an attempt to get the dialog going, secondly you may notice the obvious omission of other mobile devices such as Android for use in recording. Omission does not mean that they shouldn't be used, they may be perfectly acceptable however the one nice thing about iPhone and iPad is that both the hardware and operating system are made by one manufacture making comparisons and quality control simpler.  I encourage others to post results they may have had using other mobile devices for oral history interviews. Lastly much of the content was excerpted from the testing and excellent work of Jeff Geerling. Check out his site if you are interested in even more in-depth information.

What a difference a couple of years can make in technology. Prices go down, megapixels and device and app quality go up.  While an iPhone/iPad might not offer all the quality control that an expensive camera or recording device can do for a large organization like the Smithsonian especially when they might be looking at reuse of the interview in a national exhibit, for a smaller museum/organization not only is using an iPhone/iPad acceptable but probably better than many of the magnetic video and audio recording devices that they were using in the past.

Key points to remember:

  • When recording, turning off Wi-fi may help to prevent background noise/feedback.

  • Turn on Airplane mode on your iPhone to prevent calls during a recording session.

  • Battery Life - make sure to fully charge your device or that it is plugged into a power source.

  • Storage - if you are going to be using your iPhone or iPad for recording video oral histories you never can have enough storage. Think about getting at least 32GB.

  • An iPod Touch can be used for recording audio but should not be used for video as the lens quality records at less than 1 megapixel.

  • I recommend using iPhone 4 and iPad 2 and above.

  • These are meant as suggestions not set in stone guidelines.

  • Having proper lighting and a recording environment still are important.

  • Technical specs for iPad and iPhone


AUDIO RECORDING APP


For a recording app you might want to look at FiRe 2 from Audiofile Engineering.

The basic interface is fairly simple to use but it does have advanced features you can tap into like a variety of metadata standards, format conversion, and time markers and uploading to Dropbox or your own FTP server.

VIDEO RECORDING APP


You can just use the Built-in camera that comes with the iPhone/iPad/iPod it handles different audio inputs, but without much configuration or level control, and no monitoring.

For a more fully featured camera app check out FiLMiC Pro, unfortunately it also has no audio controls.

MICROPHONES


While an iPad, iPhone, iPod is great to record on, their built in mics are not good for recording high quality audio. The biggest thing you are going to need is a good mic. There are many many different kinds of mics out their here are some suggestions:
•RadioShack 33-3013 Electret Condenser Lavaliere Microphone
•Crown Sound-Grabber-II Conference Microphone
•Audio Technica PRO88W-R35 Wireless Lavalier System
•Sony WCS-999 Wireless Microphone System
•Rode VideoMic Shotgun Microphone
•There are many others...

However, for all these mics you will need an Audio Input Adapter for your iPad/iPhone/iPhone - See the next section.

AUDIO INPUT ADAPTER


With an iPhone you will need an audio input adapter for most mics.

RECORDING AUDIO WITH TWO MICROPHONES - IPOD/IPHONE


You can use a simple option and get a Monster iSplitter and plug a lavaliere microphone into each side. (Don't forget to use an audio input adapter with it)

GuitarJack Model 2, into which you can plug a stereo input source (or two microphones that go one in left, one in right channel). You can also use 1/4 inch Input without an adapter.

RECORDING AUDIO WITH TWO MICROPHONES - IPAD


With an iPad in addition to recording with the headphone jack, you can also record with the iPad's Dock Connector to record two tracks (stereo) with one mic to the interviewer and one mic to the interviewee.

You'll need to have the USB adapter from the iPad Camera Connection Kit

And then, you'll need one of the following USB interfaces to translate analog inputs to the USB connection:

And finally you will need one of the following apps to support multi-channel recording and mixing

OTHER OPTIONS



  • For out-of-the-box options for recording sound, here is one high-end and somewhat expensive solution: iM2
    (this does come with it own free app you can download from iTunes)

  • ...and one amazingly cheap and surprisingly useful solution: Flexible-mini-capsule-microphone


TRIPODS, MOUNTS AND CAMERA STABILIZERS


Tripod Mount


In order to attach an iPhone or iPad to a tripod you are going to need a lot of rubber bands and duct tape or you can try one of these solutions. Their are several solutions available.



  • Snap Mount For iPhone 4/4S - Unfortunately they are currently having a problem keeping up with demand and are out of stock.

  • Movie Mount for iPad 2 - I have not had a chance to try out  iPad Mounts yet but I like this one because of the ability to add a mic/lens/light to the mount.



Tripods


Almost any camera tripod should work with the above mounts, however, I do have one recommendation that I have found compact and useful especially the tripod because of the magnetic feet which allows you to mount it on most metal surfaces.

iPhone Camera Stabilizer


While this might be a terrible solution for using oral histories it is great if you are recording while you are walking on a tour. One big drawback - there is no mount for a mic and I have found it quite impossible to balance the camera with a mic attached.

Scanning Negatives and Slides

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | January 6, 2012
Many historical Societies and archives find themselves with hundreds if not thousands of slides and negatives in their collections often with little or no description of what is on each of them. From a preservation standpoint color slides and negatives will suffer from deterioration over time, especially pre-1978 where slides and negatives which where made with comparatively unstable films and unlike prints, slides can be very difficult to notice fading or deterioration without the aid of a projector or light box and negatives are impossible to tell how much fading has occurred.

In order to provide better access, get a better idea of what is in a collection and  to better preserve images on fading and deteriorating film it is important to digitally scan slides and negatives and to add the proper metadata.

It's never too soon to start preserving your slides and photos, and in some cases it may already be too late.

Conditions you can find slides and negatives even if they have been in unopened boxes or untouched sleeves:

  • Slides and negatives which are stuck to their sleeves

  • Snowflake crystal-like artifacts on film

  • Film developed by drugstore-type services, fading very badly, where the same type of film processed at the same time by different vendors can be fine

  • Dark Fading or Light Fading (see below)


Clean Before Scanning


Detail showing tiny hair on slide

Detail showing tiny hair on slide



Microscopic specs of dust become boulders and tiny hairs become tree limbs when scanned at 2400 dpi. Newer scanners can use technology to "remove" the dust scanned on with the image. However the dust is not actually removed rather it is modifying the image to hide the dust. Dust and dirt ideally should be removed before scanning.

  • Wear surgical gloves when handling negatives or slides. Even if finger prints are not visible grease from fingers can cause problems years down the line.

  • To remove simple dust before scanning clean using compressed air, an antistatic brush, and careful attention.

  • For slides with serious problems like finger prints use Pec-12 and Pec Pads.

  • The best solution would be to never get the slides dirty and with careful storage dust and damage can be mitigated. However even slides that have never left their box or envelope seem to accumulate dust.


Flatbed Scanner or Dedicated Slide Scanner?


As recent as a few years ago there was a great difference in quality from a dedicated slide scanner  versus a flat bed scanner with a slide scanner attachment. However, quality of what you can get from a flat bed scanner with a slide scanner attachment has improved to the point that most are buying flatbed slide/negative scanner combinations and many slide scanner producers like Nikon have simply stopped making dedicated slide scanners. The other nice thing is that with the increase in quality there has been a corresponding significant drop in price of scanners. There still is at least a couple of companies still making slide/negative scanners and if you have hundreds or thousands of slides and negatives or are dealing with professionally taken/processed slides and negatives it would be a worthwhile expense (currently around $400) to purchase a dedicated slide/negative scanner.

One advantage of a flatbed slide/negative scanner combination is that not all negatives are 35mm and many can scan a large variety of sizes of transparencies. However you have to do the research to see just what each model supports.

While a flatbed slide/negative scanner combination is acceptable, other scanners are not. Document scanners, Microfilm Reader/Scanners and the all-in-one copier/scanner/faxing machines  either lack the resolution, the optics or both for doing archival quality scans.

Another issue is the age of the scanner. Like computers, scanners have improved to a point both in quality and price that it is really worth looking at retiring an older working scanner. The example on the left below comes from the Minnesota Historical Society's own scanner in the SHPO office. The scanner was purchased in 2001 and still works very well. However, the highest DPI is 2400 which is inadequate for many 35mm slides and the optics are far from perfect when compared to a newer 2011 model scanning at the same DPI.













2001 Flatbed Scanner
detail-2400dpi
2011 Flatbed Scanner
detail-2400dpi

Dark Fading | Light Fading


Remember that resolution isn't everything. Color and contrast are equally important and dealing with older slides and negatives you will run into the issue of fading. Slides and photos will fade for a variety of reasons. All dyes have a limited lifetime because they break down because of temperature, light and chemical reactions to materials within the dyes themselves.

Dyes that fade when they are in the dark is termed "Dark Fading" and dyes that fade because they are exposed to light  is termed "Light Fading.

Light fading is caused by exposure to high intensity light such as when a slide is shown in a slide projector. Magenta dyes will typically fade the quickest.

Dark Fading occurs when your slides are not exposed to light. It is caused by a temperature and relative humidity reaction. Cyan dyes will typically fade more quickly. Prior to the mid-1980s, the Cyan dye was particularly unstable. BTW:  It is important to understand that Dark fading is not caused by darkness, Dark fading simply refers to the fading and staining that take place in a color material during storage when light is not present.

Digitally Fixing Fading


Improvements in software have made color and contrast correction remarkably easy with "auto correction" tools with are often available with the scanning software. However, true color correction and digital restoration is both and art and a science, to get the best possible results  hire a professional with experience in color correction and digital restoration.

NOTE: It is important to understand that your unmodified raw scanned image is your master image. Contrast or color corrections to the image will make it a derivative of the master image since correcting the image introduces changes that are subjective AND unreversable. However if the image needs major correcting it is acceptable to archive a corrected derivative to along with the unmodified master image so it can be used to create further derivatives.

Slide and Negative Preservation


Since negatives and slides are original source information it is important to keep them as long as they remain a viable source. With proper care and storage certain filmstocks can store unchanged for decades.  Unfortunately film preservation is out of the scope of this article. However Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. has extensive articles on slide and negative preservation. Founders Henry Wilhelm and Carol Brower Wilhelm literally wrote the book on slide and negative preservation.

Additional Resources


Cloud Computing for Small Museums

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | December 28, 2011


The majority of museums and local historical socities around the Minnesota are small organizations which, if not all volunteer, employ between 1-5 people. However they are the most vulnerable and are often run by people with limited resources and skills to be able to reap the benefits of available information technologies (IT). When they do adopt IT strategies, their potential to survive and grow increases since they are then able to participate in a larger global environment. The challenge lies with these organizations adopting the appropriate IT solution that fits their needs. Often the tools available are either too expensive or require more resources than readily available. Cloud computing offers an opportunity to support the growth of local historical societies by enabling low cost IT solutions.

What Is Cloud Computing?


Cloud-computing services require no software to purchase and install. Cloud computing applications reside on external servers and are accessed through internet or mobile network connections. This reduces the cost of paying for IT infrastructure and applying it to suit the organization's needs. Cloud computing is a recent term that refers to both the applications delivered as services over the internet and the hardware/software in data centers in which a pool of virtualized, dynamically- scalable computing power, storage, platforms and services are delivered on demand.

Cloud-based services can be categorized into three models:

  1. Software as Service (SaS): service providers make available applications for personal and business use.

  2. Infrastructure as Service (IaS): offers hardware services which may include virtual and physical servers.

  3. Platform as Service (PaS): provides a framework and tools for developers to build their own applications.


Although cloud computing is not without concerns about security, stability, and data ownership, for small museums, cloud computing hits a particular sweet spot. With cloud services, small organizations enjoy the benefits of not having to deploy physical infrastructure like file and e-mail servers, storage systems or shrink-wrapped software. Plus, the "anywhere, anytime" availability of these solutions, means hassle-free collaboration between volunteers and employees by simply using a browser. Another feature of cloud computing is that it's easily scalable. Many of these solutions can work for a business with 2 employees or 2,000.

One of the greatest advantages is that the user is no longer tied to a traditional computer to use an application, or has to buy a version specifically configured for a phone, PDA or other device. (In theory) any device that can access the Internet will be able to run a cloud-based application.

Regardless of the device being used, there may be fewer maintenance issues. Users will not have to worry about storage capacity, compatibility or other matters.

Cloud-computing fees  are typically subscription-based. The vendors usually charge on a month-to-month or annual basis.

Pooling resources into large clouds cuts costs and increases utilization by delivering resources only for as long as those resources are needed. Cloud computing is particularly beneficial for small and medium organizations, where effective and affordable IT tools are critical for helping them become more productive without spending a great deal of money on in-house resources and technical equipment.

PROS of Cloud Computing



  • Fast Deployment

  • Lower cost/No Capital Expense

  • Reduced IT maintenance

  • Elastic and Unlimited Scalability

  • Energy Efficiency

  • Reliability (service & data)

  • Better Resource Utilization


CONS of Cloud Computing



  • Information Security

  • Physical Security

  • Long Term Offline Storage

  • Bandwidth Bottleneck

  • Potential Vendor Lock-in

  • Lack of control during downtime


Free or low cost Cloud Services


Here are some suggestions for you. Feel free to add to the list in your comments below.

Web Site Services


Looking for a free web site or time to up date that old site then look at these options...

Weebly
Free|Basic services
If you are a beginner and hate the idea of getting technical, then go with Weebly. Their drag and drop system makes it amazingly simple to get started.

Wordpress.com
Free|Basic services
If you are looking for a web site with scalability as your web presence grows, then go with Wordpress.com.  It utilizes the same WordPress software that anyone can download from WordPress.org.  With WordPress.com, the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of. In the future you could move your web site with ease to another hosting service if you wanted more control - something not done as easily with Weebly.

Google Sites
Free
The ease of use in Google sites and collaboration abilities make it suitable for team work and collaboration; Its easy setup and limited design makes it suitable for small personal sites or group participation like club sites.

Dreamhost
Free (limited service for Non-profits)
Do you want more control of your web site, are more advanced, want to customize your site? You might want to consider signing up on Dreamhost which offers free web hosting to 501c3 non-profits.

Other Services


Mail Chimp
Free|Basic services

MailChimp has a lot of great features, however, most of these great features come at an extra charge to the regular cost of service. Their general pricing structure can works great for small businesses but can get pricey for larger organizations or larger mailing lists.

Google Docs
Free
The most widely-used cloud-based productivity suite, Google Docs is efficient, provides document collaboration and tight integration with other Google functions. Plus it's more compatible with Microsoft documents than other online services of its kind.

Google Apps
$50 per user per year (A free version of Google Apps for Nonprofits is available)
If you want to integrate Google Docs into a collaborative workspace, complete with email and calendaring, Google Apps is the way to go.

Dropbox
$4.99 - $49.00 Direct
Dropbox is a file synchronization and sharing solution that can also function as an online backup service. It works by letting the user simply drag and drop their files and folders into a Dropbox folder.

LogMeIn
Free|Basic services
LogMeIn Free offers free remote access to your desktop so you can open files, check your email, run programs and stay productive from yourmobile device or any computer over the Internet and it's user-friendly enough for non-techies.

Outright.com
Free|Basic services
Outright.com is an online accounting service that fits light accounting needs, such as tracking income expenses and tax obligations. However, it is new and lacks features like invoicing, credit card payments (with a merchant account), account management, and check writing that are available in other cloud based accounting services.

Five Early-21st-Century Challenges

By: grabitsdm | Mission & Management | November 28, 2011
Working in local history usually makes me reluctant to speculate on the future. "I'm a historian," I will tell people when asked to guess what might happen. "Not a prognosticator." However, being conscious the future is vital for any business, for-profit or nonprofit or government.

Internally the Minnesota Historical Society has been estimating challenges it faces going forward, which it periodically does and is good to do. This activity prompted me to think about what local historical organizations may need to consider going forward. I presented a session on this in 2009, and little has changed since then. Essentially there seems to be five compelling issues that need to be addressed, and soon.

1. Mission-based presence. Most organizations have a geography to their mission, whether a county, a city, or whatever. Even those that don't have a geographical focus do have a mission focus. Whatever the focus the organization dedicated to a specific history needs to consider what its presence has to look like in order to be successful. The cost of communication through traditional means continues to increase, while newer media is not always accepted by our main supporters. What can you do to continue to have a strong presence in your mission focus? We simply cannot afford to hole-up in our facilities. Leadership is all about putting yourself on the line, and to do so you have to be an active member of whatever community for whose history you are responsible.

2. 21st-century user expectations for products. Every concern needs to reconsider what it offers from the perspective of the user. Peter Drucker, a renowned management thinker, spoke of this as adopting an "outside-in" view of your company. Too many history organizations tend to think of things from the inside-out: how can we organize better in order to be more efficient? The trouble is that if no one desires what you efficiently offer (even though "they should"), you risk becoming irrelevant. What is it that people who use your current services want? What do nonusers and especially newer residents need and can you offer that? Do you know?

3. Developing knowledge workers for history organizations. The economy and demographics are changing. As historical organizations we preserve the memory of why and how things have changed, so that these are changing is good news because that means more to document. The economy is often said to be changing over from an industrial "make stuff" model to a knowledge-based "know stuff" model. The machinery of the economy then is increasingly in the heads of workers rather than on a factory floor. In a sense history organizations have always been in the so-called new economy of knowledge workers, since history organizations preserve and provide knowledge. For once, we may be ahead of the curve. However, a trend of knowledge workers is to more frequently change jobs. No longer does a worker put in 40 years on the assembly line. The expectation is to move frequently. With the steeper learning curve of knowledge work, what does job-migration mean for the way we recruit and train workers? As to demographics and the browning of Minnesota, equipping non-Whites for work in local history is imperative in order to assure continuance of local history organizations. Further, for organizations in more rural areas, we need to be part of the solution to depopulation by demonstrating to the youth how it is possible to live and make a living without relocating to a larger population area. Too often those in rural areas apologize for not having something or being better than they. Having grown up in a town of less than 2,000 people at the time, it is tempting to think this way at times and I certainly did not stay (In my defense, my parents moved us to Arlington when I was 10, and today I live in a house that belonged to my great uncle. So, in a sense history does keep me where I live). Resist the temptation to think negatively about size because you can't build on scarcity, only on what you have. Besides, there are a surplus of great reasons to choose to live in any of the 850+ cities or 1,700+ townships across the state. Local history should be able to document why.

4. Shift to project-based budgets. Over time philanthropy has shifted from funding bricks-and-mortar projects to funding programmatic offerings, and now it seems that the shift from general operations to project-based grants is here to stay. That means the savvy manager has to create flexibility in the fiscal budget, often with employees left hanging in the balance of phrases like "Position subject to renewal contingent on funding." So, not only do we have to worry about the knowledge worker leaving for greener pastures but also about our pasture drying up. Still funding mission is very possible for those willing to put in additional effort to "projectize" elements of the workplan to free up general support for tasks that may not be grant-worthy. A number of local history organizations have done this for collections-related initiatives like inventory, catalog, and backlog reduction. Still, we should be asking, "how can an organization remain diligent through the intentional application of resources to problems if funding is so seemingly opportunistic and uncertain?" Time will tell, but for the moment I know grappling with project-based budgets has to be perplexing and exhausting.

5. Evidence and access for the 21st century. In rethinking all that we do, the questions of what to collect, how much to collect, and how will we make what we collect accessible, all need to be on the table. Some local history organizations have taken the extreme, though perhaps necessary, step of a collecting moratorium until they have solid answers for these questions. In a time when the common expectation for access is 24/7 and from anywhere in the world, how do local history organizations that are inherently tied to the physical address the virtual? Although space for digital assets seems endless, it isn't. Think of digitization as a way to expand your storage, but remember that this too is not infinite, because nothing is infinite. The boundaries are costs in terms of time, money, and opportunity. The opportunity cost is that for whatever you do, there is now something you cannot do. Returning to the public repeatedly to seek funds for more space is something to be mindful about, whether for a building or for electronic capacity. Collectively we as a field need to figure out how to reduce the pace of space consumption before we fatigue our supporters.

Quite a few history organizations are very good at these points already. Too many, however, are locked into patterns established long ago. Those patterns were probably quite appropriate at one time. With more than one million nonprofits currently in the U.S., and the promise of an additional 12 million more to come as Boomers retire, the targets for charitable giving will increase the competition for finite funding. If local history nonprofits do not have the courage to meet the 21st century on its own terms, they should not expect to be competitive.

However, the inherent purposes of local history wedded with adaptations for the 21st century should make local history nearly unbeatable as a worthy recipient of funding. People are most often self-centered. They want to see themselves in your exhibits and programs and publications. They want to know what's in it for them. Yes, a great many try to overcome their self-absorption, which is what we all should strive to do, but in the end we are still naturally interested in ourselves. Local history in its current form was started to help people in the present (often veterans) and to document the present for the future. Local history is all about us, which at the core should keep local history quite relevant. Thus, if you can ask yourself in light of the five challenges above, "How will we help our neighbors?" and "What should we tell the future about our neighbors?" - local history should remain competitive by remaining true to our purposes.

We'd love to hear from anyone with examples of how they are addressing any of the issues above.

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