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2022 National Census of History Organizations: A Report on the History Community in the United States

Category: Surveys & Reports
Decorative

The American Association for State and Local History released the 2022 National Census of History Organizations at the beginning of June. This is the first national effort to comprehensively and systematically research the size and scope of the U.S. public history community. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and carried out by leading cultural sector researchers Carole Rosenstein (George Mason University) and Neville Vakharia (Drexel University) (with support from AASLH’s Public History Research Lab) the “History Census” has identified 21,588 history organizations in the United States.

This new data shows that the history community is by far the largest sector of the museum field; the Institute of Museum and Library Services estimates about 5,653 museums in disciplines other than history in the U.S., 2,620 of which are art museums. There are also more history organizations than there are public libraries (16,607), Starbucks (15,188), McDonald’s (13,452), and Walmarts (4,668).

In addition to documenting the size of the field, AASLH’s analysis of the underlying data has revealed new findings about the scope and structure of the history community in the United States. Among the project’s major findings:

  • History organizations are ubiquitous. History institutions have a presence in nearly every community, often reaching places underserved by other arts and culture organizations.
  • The field operates through a deep and distinct partnership between government and private nonprofits. This hybrid model can be a source of strength as well as many challenges.
  • There is a pervasive sense that history has a public purpose. History organizations from the smallest to the largest place community and public benefit at the center of their work.
  • The vast majority of organizations are small. More than 80 percent of private nonprofit history organizations report revenues of less than $200,000 per year.

We, at the AASLH, hope this landmark report will greatly serve the field, helping to support advocacy, fundraising, community partnerships, and more. You can learn more about the project at AASLH.org/census.

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