Building a Sustainable Future for History Institutions: A Systemic Approach

An Introduction to the History System Project

The mission to collect, preserve and interpret history is complex, and requires many labor- and capital-intensive activities to fulfill. Because of this complexity, most institutions are unable to garner enough resources to fulfill the full spectrum of activities, and by asking this of them, we set them up for failure. Capacity-building programs, for the most part, have avoided talking about this uncomfortable reality, and simply ask: “How can we build organizations’ capacity to fulfill this complex mission?” TDC reframed the question: “Can we imagine a system where – rather than requiring each institution to undertake all of these activities – institutions assume more focused and defined roles that, taken together, result in collective success?”