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History must involve people. History is about people. If there are no people, there is no historymaybe science or technology, but no history. ~D. Heiserman


If you believe the subject of history is all about memorizing dates, dead peoples' names, places, and events, you are in for a surprise here ... possibly a pleasant surprise. As  Eric Garneau puts it, "... history, like basically every other discipline under the liberal arts umbrella, is based in critical thinking, not fact-checking. Historians need to be able to process different arguments, texts and interpretations and formulate a cogent argument for their own reading of important events."


History is without a doubt the grandest  narrative Not only is there an uncertain future, but a past that is packed withf unanswered questions, undiscovered events, and great men and women whose impact upon our lives is passing unnoticed. The greatest and most expansive literary works are, by comparison, a mere series of events taken from a thin slice of human history.

As with most academic school subjects, history can rarely be taught in its most exciting forms. There are exams to pass and courses to complete with good grades and on schedule. Such situations preclude the barest of genuine appreciation for history.

If you are visiting this department because you need some help with a history class, you are wondering what it is like to study history in college, or you want to brush up on your past experiences with the study of history ... you are quite welcome here. There is much you can do.

But there is something much more here for our lifelong learners and, of course, those who are feeling this sort of  odd "itch" to do something with history.



ABOUT History


If your passion for history is built around an abiding fascination with the story of humanity, we applaud you. Enjoy! But if your passion is not well defined, or perhaps disfigured by your experience with conventional history classes, you might discover a way to find some direction here.

History is not about verifying facts.
History is about asking questions.

It's all  about asking questions -- the right kinds of questions. For example, it  takes about thirty seconds of web searching to find that the United States defeated Great Britain in a gunship battle in Lake Erie as part of the War of 1812. Facts, names, and dates come streaming forth on the computer monitor. It's no big deal to uncover the facts of this dramatic story. But  here is a questions begging an answer:

How on earth did  the combatants get line-class battleships onto Lake Erie? Battleships belong on the high seas and saltwater harbors,  not in a shallow, virtually landlocked (because of the Niagara Falls) relatively tiny freshwater lakes?

If  you really care about history, you don't simply blow  off the question with a guess. It grabs onto you, and you can't make it go away. You locate His Majesty's shipbuilding records for the time. You pull up the maps  of the time, and recheck  your facts on the history of the  battle and its precursors.

Simple questions seems obvious only once they are asked.  And there has  to be hundreds of thousands of such questions buried in the records of human existence. Explore your favorite place and era ... put yourself into it. Find one of those questions and spend  as much time an energy necessary for finding and verifying an answer. Then blog the paper you prepare on the subject. You don't need an academic stamp, "proper" credentials, or peer reviews. Once you put up the blog,  the discovery is yours, and the date stamp establishes your priority. (Of course, you'd better make a responsible job of it. Screw it up, and you will  suffer from one of two extremes: Either your paper will get no attention at all, or it will get the kind of attention from the history buffs that buries your reputation for a very long time).

History as we learned to hate it:



David L. Heiserman, Editor

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All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015