I finally did it! Today I finally joined ALHFAM. What is ALHFAM, you ask? Well from their own website it states: The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums serves those involved in living historical farms, agricultural museums and outdoor museums of history and folklife. 

Back in 2007 my husband and I were going to school and I was expecting our first child. The semester that he was due, I did an online class, my History capstone course (research + a huge paper), and an independent reading study. I worked with one of my history professors, Jay Anderson - a long-time living history guru (who is also considered the "father of living history") and is author of Time Machine: The World of Living History. I chose the books I wanted to read (including his of course) and he approved them along with suggesting I read Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. (An excellent read!) He also suggested -more like ordered- that I join ALHFAM. Of course I wanted to, but the membership fee, however modest, was a bit much for us as college students with a baby on the way. So, I never did and he never knew. Mwahahahaha!

Of course, I always regretted it. ALHFAM is the go-to organization if you have anything at all to do with living history. I have years of working in living history under my belt, so it was really natural that I should join. Also, since moving out to Maryland I've felt a little out of touch with living history stuff. In Indiana, where I'm from, I knew where everything was and actively participated in what was near me. Out here, it's amazing how difficult it has been to find living history reenactors, museums, anything. It's so ridiculous! Anyway, visiting ALHFAM's website made it easier to find those places and it turns out there is a living history museum (at least they have some volunteer costumed interpreters) only 1/2 an hour away. Yippee! There are a lot of museums out here, I just don't happen to be lucky enough to live close to many of the super cool living history ones.

Anyway, I hope Dr. Anderson will be proud of me that I finally joined after all this time. I feel connected to the history community once again! And for a historian, that feels awesome.

Also, in my quest to be more connected I called the local county historical society to see about volunteering. I love calling historical places and telling them I want to volunteer. They get so giddy, especially when they hear about my experience. heehee! I don't say that to brag, but it's because I totally understand where they're coming from. Volunteers are their lifeblood. Running a museum is not easy, especially in a down economy. So, when they get someone wanting to volunteer with tons of history/museum related skills they nearly faint, they feel so lucky! Even though I'm a stay-at-home-mom, I want to be able to use my skills, use my degree, and if I can't do that in an actual paid job, then I am more than happy to donate my skills to a worthy historical cause, because I know how tough it is in the museum world. And I won't lie. I love the feeling that my lifetime-worth of history/museum skills are so valued to someone! Also, while in some career fields, volunteering doesn't look that impressive; but in my field, it looks awesome. I'm able to keep my resume up to scratch by volunteering just in case I need to go out and look for a job some day. So, really, it's mutually beneficial.

If you're lucky enough to live close to a museum, historical house, or historical society, I suggest you volunteer some time! I know that museums everywhere adore their volunteers, and not only that but you get to surround yourself with history and have a lot of fun with other history-loving people!


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