How to organise a History Event
This is based on my experience: there was no budget, no direct costs and everything was delivered by volunteers.
Start small. See my advice on this.
You might start with a History Hour. If this is a success, repeat it or build on it. With several events pulled together, you could make a History Day, and if this is a success and if you have many more events to offer, you could deliver a History Week. Who knows where it might stop. You can do it as little or as often as you want. I organised one History Week a year over several years.
- You’ll need a project manager who is the ultimate ‘go to’ person
- Seek volunteers. Until you ask, you’ll never know who likes history, who is an expert, who has amazing talents that can be used. Ideally they should come across an organisation, from all levels. They may include the ideas people, the people who like research, prefer stewarding roles, someone to check the logistics (checking the technology works) etc
- Look for speakers from amongst your own colleagues, as well as academia and from think tanks. People are on the look out to share their knowledge, to test it on an audience, and maybe even seek to influence.
- You might want to get someone of standing to open the session.
- Make sure someone introduces each speaker and thanks them at the end.
- Start planning early.
- Scope out what your theme might be. Can you make it relevant to your day-to-day work? Does it build people’s skills? Does it harness knowledge that already exists within your workplace? Does it mark some great event?
- Identify dates. Avoid public holidays and school holidays.
- Book rooms early on. The setting should be appropriate to the content and easily accessible.
- Look to deliver at a range of events: talks, tours, tutorials, show and tell, quizzes, display
- Try to avoid overlapping events. You don’t want to disappoint the enthusiasts by making them choose one event over another.
- Make sure you take attendance, and you escort visitors
- Seek feedback electronically, rather than on paper. It is easier to manage.
Use as many free digital tools that are available to be as efficient as possible. This is a great way too to learn to use the new digital tools. If in doubt, ask the youngest member of staff. They are bound to either know how to use or are not afraid to try it out. See tools of the trade for a range of free apps.