Commemorating America’s Semiquincentennial

In 2026, the United States will commemorate the 250th anniversary (the “Semiquincentennial”) of its founding. This anniversary presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to share the whole history of our nation and make progress in becoming a more perfect union. It also offers a chance to transform and strengthen the history field, preparing it to thrive for decades to come.

To help achieve these goals, AASLH provides leadership and resources for history practitioners and organizations of all types and sizes. We are monitoring national, regional, and local commemoration plans, advocating for greater funding, convening stakeholders across the nation, and developing publications, workshops, and events to assist those preparing for the anniversary.

We hope all people in all places will join in commemorating the 250th. By sharing the whole history of our country, we can ensure history organizations continue to cultivate a sense of belonging in their communities and inform important civic conversations. Whether you’re deep in planning or just getting started, we’re here to help!

AASLH’s 250th anniversary programs and resources are supported in part by a major grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. You can learn more here.

Field Guide and Themes

To encourage 250th anniversary programming that addresses the full sweep of our nation’s history and is relevant to present concerns, AASLH has developed Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial, a resource with guiding themes to help the history community prepare for 2026. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and created with the help of dozens of leading scholars, museum professionals, and public historians, these themes can provide cohesiveness to a multi-faceted, grassroots commemoration and entry-points for organizations all over the United States.

By exploring common questions in different contexts, this anniversary can help us advance a more widely shared story about our nation’s history, one that acknowledges its many tensions and ambiguities and that informs our present and future. Watch the 2021 launch event for the Making History at 250.

The guide’s five themes are:

  • Unfinished Revolutions
  • Power of Place
  • We the People
  • American Experiment
  • Doing History

Read the guide in full to learn more about these themes.

The English version of the field guide has been sent to 20,000 practitioners nationwide. Thirteen thousand of these copies were made possible by a second printing funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. Translation services for the Spanish version of the field guide have been provided by Baker Cruz Services.

Programs and Resources

As you begin developing your plans for commemorating the 250th, you may need some extra help. Below, you will find resources from AASLH and other organizations that may be useful. They cover a range of topics, from general advice for approaching the anniversary, to guides to inclusive practice and community engagement, to exhibition and program basics, and more. AASLH members will receive free or discounted access to many of the resources listed below. You can learn more about institutional and individual membership with AASLH here.

250th Themes and Conceptual Guidance 

General Semiquincentennial Guidance 

If you’re just getting started with your thinking about the 250th, the following resources may be useful: 

Resources for Doing More Inclusive History 

Resource Bundles 

Webinar Recordings 

Technical Leaflets (Free for AASLH members) 

Other Resources 

Resources for Strengthening Your Programs and Institution 

Exhibits and Programs 

Collaboration and Partnerships 

Planning and Evaluation 

Advocacy and Fundraising 

Social Media and Marketing 

External Funding Sources

Funding opportunities are emerging for projects and initiatives related to the Semiquincentennial. At the state level, you might find grant opportunities from your state 250th anniversary commission, state historical society, field services office, or humanities council.

As more institutions begin to prepare for the Semiquincentennial, AASLH has created a new online resource: the National Initiative Tracker. This digital tool provides an overview of national-level planning initiatives from federal agencies, national nonprofits, and other institutions in the history, museum, education, and civic space. AASLH hopes this tool will help provide a birds-eye-view of national planning efforts to those seeking national context for the Semiquincentennial commemoration and to better understand how their plans might fit in.

Over forty U.S. states and territories have already established commissions or similar entities to lead preparations for the 250th anniversary, with several more under active consideration. These commissions will play an important role in determining the scope and direction of the commemoration, interfacing with the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and America250, recognizing local programming, and distributing funding. These commissions take different forms, but most opt for one of two approaches: 1) directing an existing agency/organization to lead preparations, or 2) creating a new commission to plan and administer the state’s commemoration, with a combination of ex officio members and appointees.

This section contains links to commission (or equivalent) websites or, in cases where there is no known web presence, links to the commission’s founding legislation or executive action. The latter can help direct inquiries to relevant agencies and organizations named in state action. For questions, please contact rosenberg@aaslh.org.

Last update: February 28, 2024

Pending Action

Existing Commissions (49 states and territories)

Encourage Your Congressional Delegation to Join the America250 Caucus

Congressional lawmakers who join the America250 Caucus agree to work together to commemorate America’s 250th anniversary in 2026 and promote national unity and civic engagement. The caucus could be an avenue for getting federal funding for 250th programming in the states. The caucus also provides a forum for members to support the work of history organizations and highlight the importance of our shared history. Encourage your members of Congress to join this important caucus!

The U.S. Semiquincentennial presents history organizations and history practitioners with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to connect people to the past. With the increased interest in history that will accompany this anniversary, history organizations have an opportunity to share a full and accurate history of our communities, states, and nations, positioning our institutions as crucial contributors to important civic conversations. In addition, the 250th offers a chance to find new sources of support among community members, other local organizations, foundations, corporations, and others. These expanded opportunities to secure support and demonstrate value make this anniversary a rare opportunity to transform and strengthen the field for decades to come. No matter where you are or what stories you tell, we hope you’ll take part.

Since 2016, AASLH has provided leadership and resources to help the history community prepare for the 250th anniversary and make the most of the opportunities it presents. Outside of AASLH, commemoration activities are being led by various groups at the national, state, and local levels.
  • National: The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, also known simply as “America 250,” are leading the national commemoration effort. Their goal is to encourage the largest, most inclusive commemoration in American history. They are planning several major initiatives, some of which have already been announced. Learn more at: america250.org
  • National: In addition, many federal agencies and national nonprofits are advancing their own plans for commemorating the 250th. You can learn more about these projects through AASLH’s “National Initiative Tracker,” forthcoming in July 2024.
  • State: More than 40 states and territories have established state-level planning commissions to organize programs for the 250th. Activities vary widely from state to state, depending on when it was established and how much funding it has received. To find our more about what you’re state is doing, click “State Commissions” in our side menu.
  • Local: Additionally, some counties, cities, and towns have established their own 250 commissions, while individual institutions are spearheading local arrangements themselves. Your state commission or local historical society may have more information.

The 250th anniversary is not just about 1776. It is an opportunity to share all of America’s history, beginning millennia before the Declaration of Independence and continuing to the present day. Communities from Maine to Guam and everywhere in between are preparing to commemorate this anniversary, each bringing their own unique histories, stories, and traditions. If you’re having trouble connecting your collections, content, or expertise to the commemoration, the five themes in AASLH’s Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial may help.

The first step for anyone looking to participate in the 250th is to understand what’s happening at the national, state, and local levels. Visit the America 250 website and browse AASLH’s National Initiative Tracker. Find your state commission and see what they have planned. Talk to other education, civic, and history organizations in your community to see what others are planning.

You should also think about what you would like to achieve, either specifically for the 250th or broader goals the anniversary might help you achieve. Do you want to reach new audiences? Tell more inclusive stories? Strengthen your organization’s financial footing? The Semiquincentennial can help achieve all of these, but it will take intentional planning.

It is important to remember, however, that this commemoration will be mostly a grassroots affair. Planning programming to commemorate the 250th will largely be up to you! Any historical programming can be framed as part of the commemoration with a bit of creativity. For some inspiration and ideas, you can use AASLH’s 250th Anniversary Program Guide (forthcoming, July 2024).

AASLH has compiled a list of resources for individuals or institutions seeking help preparing for the 250th anniversary. Click “Resources” in our side menu.

The America 250 Commission is not a granting agency, but there are other sources of funding. At the federal level, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Park Service both offer special grants for 250-related programs. Other granting agencies, like the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, offer other support for projects that may align with your goals for the 250th. Additionally, several state 250 commissions and other state-level entities offer grants for small organizations. Reach out to your state commission or statewide Field Services Office to learn more. Finally, the 250th will present rich opportunities for corporate or other sponsorships in your community.