In this article, Bruce W. Dearstyne discusses the case studies profiled in his latest book, Leading the Historical Enterprise: Strategic Creativity, Planning, and Advocacy for the Digital Age. The book focuses on history programs that have found ways to thrive in uncertain times through adapting the ways they lead, advocate, and digitally engage with their audience and communities.

This article explores five key strategies used by these organizations: challenging the status quo, using strategic planning to chart new directions, encouraging and managing innovation, developing broader approaches to engagement, and putting advocacy at the center of the program.


Historical programs face well-known challenges these days, such as modest resources, shifting demographics and customer base, and expanding social media tools, which impact where and how people seek historical information. We need to surmount these challenges; leaven our programs with creativity and innovation; seize opportunities; and take our programs to higher levels of service, excellence, and attainment.