It’s conference season, and choosing which event to attend can be daunting. Sometimes it can feel like all those sessions go by in a blur, as you furiously scribble notes across handouts, network in the short spurts between the professional development skill-builder and the discussion roundtable, and make a quick stop for any caffeine possible to combat the effects of sitting still for hours.
If you find yourself nodding your head in furtive identification with those challenges, the Telling Untold Histories Unconference, offered at Rutgers University – Newark, might be for you! Registration is now open for this third-annual public history event that puts the power back into the hands of the participants. The day is run on the fuel of your curiosity, professional or personal!
What is an unconference, you ask? It’s a conference with a theme, but no set speakers, panels, or prepared talks. You, the people, propose our topics and choose our sessions, whether they are discussion-based, problems to be solved, or sharing and discovering a niche tool in your field. What’s the catch, then? Sessions are given the final go-ahead by voting, so we welcome your most passionate reasoning on behalf of your favorite topic, and your fellow attendees will, too!
This conference is open to anyone. Public history professionals, librarians, lay historians, K-12 students, and others have all attended. The diversity of participation makes the day so much richer! A lively dialogue permeates the atmosphere, in person and on the digital mediums of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In the past, many attendees have left feeling refreshed, connected, inspired, and rejuvenated by the fusion of thinking, networking, and discovering they have done during this day-long unconference. And sitting still? Only if you have the willpower to resist the excited energy flowing between the rooms!
And that all sounds ideal, of course, but what exactly is “Telling Untold Histories”? What it says – uncovering and disseminating alternative historical narratives, sharing new voices from the past, and using untold histories to generate positive change in neighborhoods, cities and the country. This goal is far from abstract. Now more than ever, as issues of immigration, employment, economic opportunity, inequality, and health are being debated in the public and private spheres, it is critical that we make space to look at which narratives shape our national rhetoric and which go unheard. It is crucial that we examine the historical precedent for these discussions in a way that fosters contemporary activism. The Telling Untold Histories Steering Committee seeks to provide this space in an accessible, tangible way by tapping into the most powerful resource – the attendees themselves!
Additionally, there will be a few pre-planned workshops to ensure you get skill-building opportunities throughout the day. Radical archiving with Heather Hart, co-founder of the Black Lunch Table (BLT); institutional inclusivity with Museum Hue’s DEI consultant, Monica O. Montgomery; a peek into the digital music-mapping of Newark’s jazz history with musicologist Mia Tootill; engaging communities and making your museum (or archive, or collection, or historic site!) relevant; exploring OMEKA; and information literacy in our present public climate – all of these are up for your perusal during the day. You’ll walk away armed with plenty of ideas to bring back to your institution and your work.
The Telling Untold Histories Unconference is generously sponsored by Ms. Dinean Robinson and the following organizations: NJ Historical Commission, NJ Council for the Humanities, Middlesex County Culture & Heritage Commission, LibraryLinkNJ, , Queer Newark Oral History Project, Rutgers University – Newark College of Arts & Sciences, Rutgers University – Newark Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities.