Professional Development for the Montgomery County History Community

Guest blog post by Beth Hickey, Interim Executive Director and Joanna Church, Director of Collections
Montgomery County Historical Society
Montgomery County has a rich and interesting past.  It’s no surprise, then, that the county is full of history museums, organizations, and groups focused on exploring and sharing our community’s unique story. On Saturday, January 22, 2011 the Montgomery County history and heritage community will gather for a day of learning and professional development at the Montgomery County History Conference.  Now in its fifth year, the conference serves as a place where heritage professionals and history buffs can rub elbows and learn from each other.
Originally called the History Volunteers Conference, the event was envisioned by the Montgomery County Historical Society as a place where volunteers and guides from local museums and organizations could receive training on interpretation, collections management, and research techniques.  Since the event premiered in 2006, the conference has grown in focus to include sessions on general history topics such as local development, the Civil War, and African American history.
Each year, sessions are developed by a committee of representatives from the Montgomery County Historical Society and several other organizations including Peerless Rockville, Montgomery County Department of Parks, and Montgomery Preservation, Inc.   Topics covered each year include archaeology, Civil War history, and collections management.  This year’s collections management session will feature a panel discussion on using historic collections as resources for public education.
The committee members are aware (sometimes all too aware!) of the issues and problems faced by our fellow small history organizations – particularly the challenges staff and volunteers face with marketing and volunteer management.  So this year we are also focusing several sessions on professional development and partnering with other groups to bring these exciting new sessions to the conference.  Maureen Eccelston from Volunteer Maryland will present on managing volunteer programs, discussing some of the challenges as well as resources available to help make programs successful.  Our other professional development session features AHCMC’s own Shellie Williams, who will offer hints and advice about marketing and public relations for small organizations including the use of social networking tools.
Whether you’re interested in learning more about Montgomery County’s history or want to improve your marketing and management skills, we hope you’ll join us for the only regional conference with a Montgomery County focus!  For a copy of the full conference program, visit