AASLH Begins Project to Update and Enhance Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs)

by Cherie Cook, Senior Program Manager, AASLH on

Eight years ago, AASLH introduced the Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) to its members and to history organizations nationwide. We are proud to currently have more than 935 organizations across the country using the self-study StEPs program to assess their policies and practices and make improvements.

AASLH is now embarking on a project to review and update the program.

Map of AASLH member organizations enrolled in StEPs as of 2016.

The StEPs Enhancement Project will begin by taking a look at the current workbook content. The workbook is divided into six sections: Mission, Vision and Governance; Audience; Interpretation; Stewardship of Collections; Stewardship of Historic Structures and Landscapes, and Management.

Undoubtedly, organizations enrolled in StEPs will want to know how an updated version of the workbook will affect their work in the program. The current plan is to allow those already enrolled in StEPs to continue using the original version of the workbook for twelve to eighteen months after the new version is published in early 2019 (anticipated publication date). This means two workbook versions would be in use until at least early 2020. Of course, we will welcome input from members on this plan as we move further into the Enhancement Project.

UPDATE: Through a survey of program users and a focus group-like meeting during the AASLH Annual Meeting in Austin, a list of enhancement topics has been developed:

  1. Impact, Engagement and Relevance (including advocacy, current issues, social media, new technologies)
  2. Creativity and Experimentation
  3. Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
  4. Digital Collections
  5. Environmental Sustainability
  6. Finance, Transparency and Fraud Prevention
  7. Fundraising (including general fundraising topics, museum stores)

If you are interested in the prospect of helping update the workbook, please complete the Volunteer Interest Form.

AASLH looks forward to involving as many people as possible in the Enhancement Project, just as we did with the initial grassroots effort to create StEPs in 2005-09. For more information contact Cherie Cook at

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