keillorIn her first column of 2015, Carol Kammen discusses the triumphs and challenges of sending your historical “children” out into the world.

When you share your research, exhibits, and projects with the community, you hope they inspire and educate. But they may just as easily be ignored or misinterpreted. Kammen describes taking a tour that utilized some of her research, and being surprised at how the guide used (or didn’t use)  the information she had worked so enthusiastically to present.

 

“Once we let a lecture flow, open an exhibit, present a program, or publish an article or book, we cannot determine its reception or use.”

As historians, we have a responsibility to present careful and meaningful research, even if we’re not sure it will be appreciated. Kammen encourages us to send our projects out into the world with optimism, but to also understand that others may have a different take on the subject, or interpret it in unexpected ways. Whether or not people use or understand our work, we are forging links in the chains of knowledge that can lead others to new discoveries and recognition of the value of history.