Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roundtable on Administrative Histories in the Federal Government

This roundtable (meeting on Friday at 1:30 in the Museum of Commerce Classroom, Village) will try to cross invisible borders between historians and federal agency leaders to develop strategies for successfully advocating for and implementing historical research as an essential tool for decision making. Administrative histories are one important avenue to accomplish this goal. These histories describe how a unit, such as a park or a department, was established and how it has been managed over time. They might focus upon one specific area of unit development, such as legislative changes, or these histories may take a broad view of how different components of the unit developed and changed over time, based on past management decisions.

Present and future managers and agency heads use administrative histories for context in understanding the past to make informed decisions for the future. Roundtable participants will explore the ways in which administrative histories succeed—and don’t—in being part of the tool kit for decision-makers. Panel members will also engage the audience in developing ways to enhance the usability of these histories and advertise their value. They hope to start the conversation early by posting these short pieces below. You are welcome to share some thoughts now, if you are so inclined, and join us in Pensacola.

Preliminary statements by the roundtable participants have been posted here on a separate page, and readers are encouraged to peruse these and to offer some pre-conference feedback that can become a part of the face to face discussions in Pensacola. Participants are:

Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, US Forest Service
Seth C. Bruggeman, Temple University
Susan Ferentinos, Public History Manager, Organization of American Historians
Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian, National Park Service
Joan M. Zenzen, Independent Historian

Comments can be posted below.

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