Even ancient history is “our history”

In Family History on June 16, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Boring History


As a history professor I am not surprised when I hear someone say how much they dislike history. I hear laments of “boring and irrelevant” in every class and yet quite often these same students will show considerable enthusiasm for the bits of history that directly influenced their own families. Whether it’s a better understanding of what daily conditions were like during the Depression or clarity around the circumstances leading to war; where their own families are concerned these subjects stop being boring and irrelevant. In fact these subjects become part of their own story, the story of who they are and where they came from. Making these connections is not difficult when the subject is from the 20th or 21st century. The challenge comes when covering subjects from early civilization. Most students have direct experience with three generations of family history but few would dare try to draw a connection back 28 generations to the Ottoman Empire. However, the truth is that most students did have family member who not only lived during that time period but were directly influenced by it. Of course this history is long lost to most of us; the history that remains for us to study is the history of the few, the elite, the rulers, famous or infamous, but not the ordinary people who also lived extraordinary lives. On the rare occasions when students do draw their own connection to such distant times I am delighted. For them history has stopped being boring and irrelevant; for them history is really about them. Remember, you should be Saving History…because your story is priceless.



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