How does History Matters help communities?

Money for historic preservation and conservation is one of the first things to be cut from any budget. Steve and Elizabeth Berry thought it was time to come up with an innovative way to raise money, and that’s what History Matters is all about. The most popular choice is a 4 hour seminar that Steve and Elizabeth teach where writers, aspiring writers, and readers buy their way in with a contribution. Usually, that’s somewhere between $75 and $150. All of the money raised from the workshop goes to the particular historical project that has invited Steve to be there. No expenses or appearance fees are charged. In fact, Steve pays all of those himself. So far, Steve and Elizabeth have taught over 3000 students. History Matters offers a way to raise money from a group of people who might not normally contribute to historical preservation — writers — with Steve acting as the conduit, providing education and expertise to them that might not normally be available in your area. Other ways History Matters raises money is through meet and greets, speaking engagements, gala events, receptions, luncheons, dinners, club meetings, or a cocktail party. Steve and Elizabeth have participated in many of these. In quite a few communities these have worked well in conjunction with a writers workshop, as it allows a broader base for both participation and contributions. ‘Whatever works for you’ is History Matters’ motto.


What effect can a History Matters event have?

Even a modest sized event can do large things.  At the Oberlin Heritage Center in Oberlin, Ohio, they have been able to accomplish numerous things with $5000 or less:

  • Restoration of a cast iron stag/garden ornament;
  • Conservation of a painting of an important Oberlin resident from the mid-19th century;
  • Rescue and refurbishing of a 19th century iron bridge railing that is now on their grounds as a decorative fence;
  • Downtown Oberlin Historic District designation/listing on the National Register of Historic Places;
  • Purchased data-logger to monitor temperature and humidity in their historic buildings;
  • Purchased Past Perfect software for cataloging their collection of photographs, archives, books.

So far, in the many History Matters events that have occurred, all of the funds raised have been well utilized. Check out the Past Events and Upcoming Events page to see where this is happening.


Does History Matters give grants?

History Matters does not give grants or loans. We are here to assist communities in raising money for their historic preservation projects. We offer something new and different that has, so far, proven to work. Steve and Elizabeth donate their time (and pay their own expenses) to do what’s necessary to make each event a success. All of the money raised goes to the community and/or organization that is sponsoring the workshops.


Does it work?  Do people really pay to attend these events?

The answer is yes to both questions. Since History Matters began, in 2009, we have raised a little over $2,000,000. Every community has writers. So many people have that little voice in their head telling them to write — they simply lack the instruction to make it happen. Steve and Elizabeth’s workshop helps provide a needed spark. And the meet and greets, speaking engagements, gala events, receptions, luncheons, dinners, club meetings, and cocktail parties have all garnered enthusiastic and generous crowds. Check out the Past Events page for a complete list of where this has happened and the Upcoming Events page as to where Steve and Elizabeth will be next.


What are some of the projects History Matters has helped?

There have been a variety, all across the country. Here are a few: the P.T. Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut; the Lincoln Log Cabin in Charleston, Illinois; historic cemeteries in Raleigh, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, and Jekyll Island, Georgia; the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut; museums in Seattle, Washington and Pleasanton, California; historic buildings in Beaufort, South Carolina and Berryville, Arkansas; and the rare book collection for the Library of Virginia and the Smithsonian Libraries. Check out the Past Events and Upcoming Events section for a complete listing.


How do I find out more and make contact?

We’d love to hear from you. Just use the Contact link above.