The 2022 National Census of History Organizations is a first-of-its-kind effort to research the size and scope of the history community in the United States. Funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the “History Census” represents the first national effort to produce a high-quality, up-to-date, comprehensive list of the country’s thousands of history museums, historical societies, and related organizations. This initiative identified 21,588 history organizations in the United States, a number we are confident represents a floor rather than a ceiling. Through our analysis of this data, we have been able to identify some of the fundamental characteristics of our field, assess major strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for improved practice and further research.
We hope this report will equip history practitioners everywhere with new, high-quality data to support their work, from advocacy to grant proposals to community partnerships. We encourage you to download the report, view our interactive map of more than 21,000 institutions, and share this with your colleagues and coworkers.
The map below offers a visualization of the 21,588 organizations identified as part of the 2022 National Census of History Organizations. As we state in the report, “The count should be regarded as conservative….We have a high level of confidence that the counts in this census represent a floor rather than a ceiling in terms of the population of history organizations in the United States.” That means there are many organizations engaged in history work that nevertheless may not appear as part of this visualization. The purpose of this research was to compile the most thorough list of history organizations possible in order to conduct much-needed, field-wide analysis of the public history community in the United States. In practice, this meant our research team had to proceed systematically through tens of thousands of records to make decisions about their inclusion. Without on-the-ground context for each organization, and given the vast differences in the history ecosystem in different states and regions, this required many difficult decisions. An institution’s omission from the visualization below is not a comment on their status as a history organization; rather, it is a reflection of the deep complexity of gathering data about a field so vast and varied. We apologize for such omissions and welcome your help in identifying institutions you believe should have been included so we can improve our process in future research.
For more details about how we built the data file that serves as the foundation for our analysis, please see pp. 24-29 of the report. Please note: records without precise geographic information in our source file have been coded to the center of their respective zip codes.