HAPPY 30TH ANNIVERSARY, AOSHS!!
I know it’s hard to believe that AOSHS has been in existence for 30 years, especially when so many of you have only discovered us in the past few years!
From 1946 until 1989, no attempt had been made to record (or preserve) the history of Department of Defense Dependent Schools students and educators who had lived overseas. Dr. Thomas Drysdale, prior to his retirement as Director of the Atlantic Region for DoDDS, researched this issue and all who he came into contact with agreed that there should be an archive and museum, so in 1989 with the help of Dr. Eugene Hughes, President of Northern Arizona University, the American Overseas Schools Archives (AOSA) opened on the NAU campus in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Following the end of the Cold War in 1991, U.S. leaders began reshaping its military posture and several installations began to shut down as troops were reduced overseas. This, then, lead to the closure of the dependent schools, and Dr. John Stremple, Director of DoDDS, issued permission for the schools to send their memorabilia to the Archives at the government’s expense. By now, AOSA had become the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS) and was incorporated as a non-profit organization by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
The memorabilia being sent to the archive soon exceeded the storage space that was available, and in 1997 Dr. Drysdale began a letter campaign to nineteen major cities within the continental U.S. seeking to relocate the Archives. Seven cities responded, a committee selected and visited the top three choices, and Wichita, Kansas was accepted by a unanimous decision. The story continues, which can be read on our current website at: http://www.aoshs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Book-1.pdf.
Now, 30 years later, we are excited to announce the development of our new museum which will begin next month, located next door to our Archive. This has been a long time coming since, being a non-profit organization, our very existence has been predicated on membership dues and monetary donations, and it’s only been recently that our Brat and TCK community has become aware of AOSHS as the repository of their overseas schools’ memorabilia. As little as one year ago, the outlook for AOSHS was pretty grim, with the assessment being that we only had maybe five more years left to financially maintain the Archive; and while it's still very (in BOLD and italics) important that we continue to increase our membership and request donations to keep the Archive up and running, it is the Department of Defense Education Activity (or DoDEA, previously DoDDS) who has provided the means for us to develop our long-awaited museum!
We are also preparing to bring our much-dated website into the 21st century (those of you who have visited it knows it’s atrocious)! It will be totally revamped and (the content that we choose to keep) updated, and will include a digital library of every yearbook in our possession as well as the digitized copies of yearbooks loaned to us, photographs of the memorabilia we have at the Archive & Museum, and links to other great sources.
So, as we begin our year-long anniversary, we go forth with our new motto: “COMMITTED TO THE PAST, PLANNING TOWARD THE FUTURE”, and hope that you will join us in doing so by supporting AOSHS.