Perhaps you love everything with an historical twist to hit. If so, you will have no problem learning the subject. On the other hand, perhaps you are like I was – history bored me out of my skull!
Now the lack of an in-depth knowledge of history should not impede you in getting along. But as in all other areas, if you find some pleasure in it, history can add spice to your life. How, though, can one who dislikes history learn to change and find pleasure in it?
Consider. Whether or not you enjoy the subject, we all have a history. We all have an assortment of ancestors at least some of whom lived during every phase of man’s story (his story). Now most of us have loved our family members – the ones we are aware of. Why not trace them back beyond the ones you actually knew and learn, in a sense, to love those also? If you do, you will become more interested in the events that shaped their lives, individually. Perhaps I may illustrate?
My father was born shortly after the First World War, which had been called the Great War before a second world war came to be. He grew up during the Great Depression, and became one of the earliest filers for Social Security – a new program at that time. In addition, he entered the Second World War, and after that entered the construction occupation. As such, he became a member of the incredibly powerful unions of the time.
See what fascinating aspects of history my father was part of?
The Great Depression
The Rise of Social Security
World War II
The union movement.
All of this history just from my father.
Let’s go back to his father. My grandfather was of Irish background, and entered the workforce in Pennsylvania in hard coal (anthracite) mining. Later he transferred to New Jersey, where he worked in the shipyard. He lost his home during the Great Depression.
So what was he part of, historically?
The social stigma connected to being Irish in the United States
The Coal-Mining Trade complete with its hazards, such as Black Lung
The shipyards with their construction of war ships for World War II.
That was my father’s father. What about his father?
He (my great-grandfather) came from parents who apparently split up, both Irish. My great-grandfather drowned while traveling in a row-boat with three friends. There had been beer on board, probably part of the problem. His death was reported in the newspaper, revealing, curiously, that both he and his wife both had an alias! This was during the time the Molly Maguires were in the news. Did he have an alias because he was avoiding bills (having little money) or because of some involvement in the Molly Maguires?
Do you see, now, how history could become more interesting? When you open a textbook to learn about the Molly Maguires, you might be bored silly. But if your great-grandfather may have been in and among them, wouldn’t you sit up and take notice? Wouldn’t your interest suddenly take an upward swing? Certainly it would.
Now, I won’t continue on indefinitely here, but let me mention some of the things in history my family members were part of, and you will see why history is much more exciting for me these days.
Matters involving some of my family members:
More than one family member was in the Civil War.
Two were in the War of 1812.
Some died from the Yellow Fever of 1793.
One was in the Publishing Business – near Barnum’s American Museum.
One had a town named after him.
One was the first to have goods shipped from other lands.
One was involved with anti-slavery.
Several were involved with the Centennial of the U.S.
One rode for Napoleon.
One was involved in scandal with the post office.
One was a chief coiner for the first US Mint.
A couple were involved in gold mining.
One sold buffalo hides and wrote sheet music.
One helped book Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightengale.
One ran a newspaper.
One bears a famous connection with beardless images of Abraham Lincoln.
One was tied in with the imprisonment of Lincoln’s assassins.
More than one were involved in the Revolutionary War.
One helped define the border of one of the states.
One created a Chamber of Commerce.
One had family who died onboard the Titanic.
Does what I have written above incline you to look at your family tree? It can be a fine hobby. Don’t let it run away with your life, but if you do pursue it in your spare time, you will doubtless be rewarded with a much greater appreciation of history.