History is Not Boring discussion

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When did your interest in History begin, and why?

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message 1: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
My mother used to tell me stories about the past - she would make "sand maps" at the beach and re-enact civil war battles, or how World War I started, with them. I remember the battle of Gettysburg was a favorite. I also knew the kings and queens of England, in order, by the time I was eight - about eight years before I got the Presidents of the United States down pat (and I still sometimes put the post-Civil War ones in the wrong order!).

My grandfather, who lived with us, used to tell wonderful bedtime stories about what living in New York City was like in the 1920s. My other grandparents told great stories about life in the Carolinas after the Civil War. (Their own stories, and stories that their parents and grandparents had told them.)

I then was allowed to take 9th Grade history in 7th grade, and had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Jones, whom I then had another for two years. (So I had Western Civ, Early Modern Europe, and Russian history from her.) I guess this is what cemented an interest in history for me - I majored in it in college, and did most of a masters degree (I then had a stroke).

Additionally, my mother is and always has been a museum addict, and she always took me along, if the museum would allow me in. (I remember being very depressed at age nine that the Wintertur would not let me in, as I wasn't twelve yet. We came back when I was thirteen, and I had a fabulous time.)


message 2: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments I think my interest in history started in the 3rd grade. In those days (70's) we still made a big deal about Christopher Columbus and he became an early hero of mine. Now a days, it's considered not Politically Correct to like him.
I found a children's biography about Columbus and I remember devouring it when I went to bed. My parents would tell me to turn off the light, but I wanted to sneak in a few more pages...before I reluctantly put down the book.

When I finished the Columbus book, I noticed the publisher had other children's biographies about other famous people. I soon checked out....Louis Pasteur, Martha Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Queen Elizabeth.
To my horror, we once had an assembly of my entire school. At the end of the assembly they were reading out-loud all the overdue books not yet returned by students. I remember cringing when my name and book were called out........
Manuel..."Good Queen Bess:
There was a chorus of laughter. For some unwritten reason; boys were not supposed to check out books about girls(women), yet it was perfectly accepted for girls to check out books about boys(men)
My other enthusiasm for history came in 5th grade. We were studying Cortez and the conquest of Mexico. Being Mexican, this was especially interesting to me. I loved everything about the Aztecs and 16th century Spain.
I didnt major in history in college, but my love with history continues.



message 3: by MBP (new)

MBP This is such an interesting thread - what great childhood experiences some of you have had!

I had very little interest in history until my senior year in high school, when I took an elective course in world wars. I chose this not out of any real interest, but because it filled some gap in my schedule. I was fortunate to have a gifted teacher who really opened my eyes - for the first time, I learned that war was not just about names and dates of battles, but about strategy, tactics, logistics, advances in weaponry, and human suffering.

Another breakthrough for me, years later, was reading A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thacher Ulrich. This opened my eyes to the fact that history isn't just about famous events and people; it includes the seemingly ordinary, the powerless, and the marginalized.






message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim I got my history interest from my Mom.

When I was little we use to go to civil war battle sites and we also would go to Indian grounds and look for arrowheads.

then I started reading about heros of US in books that didn't tell the whole story but I enjoyed them because I didn't know any better

today it is so amazing to read so many good books that tell what kind of people were involved in events that sometimes happened centuries ago and in such interesting ways

there is so much to know about history/so little time to learn it

Jim

Good topic Isabella


message 5: by Rusty (new)

Rusty (rustyshackleford) For me, it didn’t happen until later in life. At a very young age, I became interested in American frontier-era history, but my interests didn’t expand beyond that until college. As an elective, I had to take a history class. The most interesting one available was on the Renaissance. The professor was very engaging, and from there I developed an interest in many areas of history.


Tim (Mole) The Gunslinger (Mole) | 30 comments Im not really sure,Ive just always loved history i think! When I was a little boy i used to pretend i was a Archeologist and try to discover things!lol Im pretty sure it was a little Indiana Jones and my love of reading from an early age,I used to read encyclopedias for fun!So around 8 years old is my estimate on when I started to love history !


message 7: by Tim (new)

Tim (mcgyver5) | 17 comments When I was small, I was obsessed with wars and war movies and my army men collection. This led me to the WWII history section at the library. I needed examples of battles for my army men. WWII led to a need to understand WWI and other pieces began to fill in. Like many others, WWII was the seed.

I had a great uncle who flew as a spotter in a B-17. He crash landed in Turkey, was taken prisoner and soon escaped. We would watch Hogan's Heroes together and I'd hang on to his every word when he would tell his war stories.

I later I became obsessed with Woodstock and Vietnam and this led to reading People's History of the United States, Autobiography of Malcolm X, and way too many books about the Vietnam War.

It was still later that I began to experience a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes while reading history. The books that caused this included:

SNCC: The New Abolishionists
The end of Barbara Tuchman's A distant Mirror
Description of the Berlin Airlift in Faust's Metropolis.

Eventually, I found "To The Finland Station" which could be called a history of history and remains my favorite.


message 8: by Kathy (last edited Jul 30, 2008 01:35PM) (new)

Kathy  Petersen | 15 comments I can't remember when I didn't like history. I devoured the "Childhood of Famous Americans" series when I was actually too young to read them, according to the librarian. I used to read my history textbook for fun as early as 5th grade (I believe that's when we started history in school). I wanted to know about the past and tried to listen to my mom and my aunts talk about their youth. I wanted to see back in time and find out what happened.

When I was 35, I got a job at a history museum, which by now, more than 25 years later, has led me into all kinds of tributaries to the past, including an almost-but-not-quite master's degree in American history. It's lifelong pursuit, and as someone above said - so much to learn, so little time. And I will add - never a dull moment from the past.


message 9: by Auty (last edited Jul 31, 2008 06:49AM) (new)

Auty There wasn't a time when my life wasn't drenched in history. Grandmother was an Archeologist specializing in Peruvian Fabrics. My Grandfather was an Anthropologist and Historian-Archeologist specializing in Southwestern American Indians, he also had at the time, the largest private American History library in the world. He did so much with history that I can't even list! In fact I am writing a book about his life, as he left this world in 1986 and has become part of history himself.
My family kept everything for generations and I spent my childhood listening to stories about each item we owned and reading the small slips of paper that my ancestors recorded about them, whether it be china and crystal or binoculars my great grandfather took from a german soldier during WWII.
I didn't think about how much it was in my life, it just was. I haven't found a period, place or people whose history hasn't facsinated me. I can't imagine that I ever will.



message 10: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Ascroft | 6 comments I think I've always been interested in history since my first few years at school. In the early years at school it's taught in story form. I liked reading and I always wanted to know what would happen next. Growing up in Canada the first few years of history studies were devoted to tales of explorers and an unknown land - I guess it caught my imagination. I've loved the tales ever since - but when the subject matter turns to political history then my mind just shuts off. It has to be about 'what happened to someone'.

Dianne Ascroft,
'Hitler and Mars Bars'


message 11: by Will (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments This may seem silly, but it was with the Disney/Davy Crocket phenomenon in the early 50's that I first became interested in history. I drove my parents crazy to take me to the Alamo. I was horribly disappointed. What did I expect? I expected something resembling a war, with holes in walls, crumbled adobe and blood stains, I guess. What I saw was a curio shop, souvineers, tourists...and a "Taco Bell" facade. I decided to study its history, and the rest "is history" as they say.




message 12: by Juan (new)

Juan (trouseredape) My interest in history began when I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember visiting the Chichen Itza ruins in the Yucatan peninsula. I was in awe that a civilization could have blossomed in the middle of the jungle. I began doing a little research on the Mayans (first, in a book my parents bought for me at the ruins) and that started it all. Now I'm interested in anything that is history-related. Anything. I hate to admit it, but I was fascinated by a book on the history of the screw (yes, dorky, I know, but it did revolutionize modern society).




message 13: by Annette (new)

Annette | 2 comments I really don't know, it's as if I've always been. The first impressions I remember are watching a film on Williamsburg and really wanting to go there, the Bicentenial, and backstage access to a local house museum. History class was always my favorite. In grammer school and friend and I would play archeology in a field behind her house. It's a interest that's always been there.


message 14: by Bettie (new)

Bettie so - I gotta ask - why only three books registered here?


message 15: by Will (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments I'm not sure why I mention this, BUT....

I love history and have most of my life. In college, I had to take "American History before 1865" twice, since I pulled a 'D' in it. How lame is that? I loved studying the period and the history, but was terible at memorizing dates, names and battles. I still am.


message 16: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Well, I listed mine - and the other history I'm reading is technically a reread (Life in a Medieval City).


message 17: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 01, 2008 06:57PM) (new)

so - I gotta ask - why only three books registered here?
Well, for many people, a book is not the first point of departure. Take my case, for instance.

I can't point to a single influence, but I think I know what the earliest one was. When I was still quite small, I was given a small medieval-themed Lego set. For some reason, it struck a chord. I spent years (and all the money I could lay my tiny hands on) collecting Lego castles and reading both fiction and nonfiction about knights and banquets.

Eventually I learned about other periods and topics in school and on family trips, but I think Legos had already created a fertile environment for learning. So the moral is: don't deny your kids their fair share of plastic clutter. It might even be good for them.



message 18: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jessbowen) I have to trace my love of history back to the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Oh, how I loved them! I'm enjoying rereading them with my own little girls now - there are a lot of fun details I didn't catch when I was young.

But, loving history is in my genes. My mother and uncle were history teachers, and my great-grandmother graduated from Boston University in 1919 and was a high school history teacher on Cape Cod in the 1920s. I grew up exposed to history - including a trip to Plimouth Plantation when I was 6 where I asked the re-enactor how she could stand all the flies!


message 19: by James (new)

James For me it goes back to when I was a teenager - my stepfather was fascinated by history, and he and I were very close, as well as being very similar personalities. He was particularly interested in Southwestern history, having spent his whole life except for World War II here in New Mexico, but had a pretty restless and wide-ranging intellect.
I didn't find a history class that interested me until high school, but that was when I first found teachers that treated it as the study of people rather than a specialized form of Trivial Pursuit. Our school had integrated history and English, so for example, when we studied the Civil War period, we read about the history of the war and politics, read books like Andersonville, and watched a reenactment of a battle at our school (they invited a group of Civil War reenactors to our campus, and they were thrilled to have the chance to share their interest with several dozen kids.) That day the teachers wore period clothes, even.

As an adult, I've found the study of people more fascinating than anything else, and that has included making history a hobby, loving fiction that is character-based, and making psychotherapy my second career after retiring from the Marine Corps. It's all about people. If I go back to school and take up another major, it will probably be history, sociology, or anthropology.


message 20: by Grumpus (new)

Grumpus | 7 comments My interest in history began shortly after I started collecting coins as a child. I remember clearly looking at the old coin dates and wondering about the path this coin must have traveled to end up in my humble hands. All the people that must have touched it. What were their lives like? What was happening in the world during the year this coin was minted?

Holding history in my hands inspired me to know more about the times and lives of the people who lived when these coins were made and thus my interest in history.


message 21: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Yeah, Grumpus - I remember looking at some of my grandfather's old coins and wondering about all the people who used them.

Especially the 1924 German DM (or it may have been the RM - the one that experienced the dreadful hyperinflation).


message 22: by Arminius (new)

Arminius As I young teenager I, being a baseball fan, would read "Baseball Digest." They would occasionally mention a great player of the past. That would inspire me to get a book about that player. I read the book and learn a little about the era and another event or person would spark an interest.

Later in life, I became a C-SPAN addict. C-SPAN has many history related shows.

Then I come across the book "A Noise of War" and am blown away by it. And it spiraled from there.



message 23: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 113 comments Hi guys, My grandfather used to tell me Civil War stories about Applachia Ky and (I was about 2) and I can't remember when I wasn't interested in history. Shirley




message 24: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments my grandmother, and great aunts and uncles were part of my early childhood and they had wonderful stories about growing up farming, riding in horse drawn carriages, crossing rivers on the ice, cutting ice, baking for the farmhands, i was taught a respect and love for my grandmother's generation by spending time with them and
an understanding of the way life was lived two generations prior to mine
i also would go each spring and fall to tend the graves of my family members and looking at the names and dates on the gravestones made me curious about those lives
i had wonderful teachers, in jr. high a european history class that i found fascinating and in high school my ancient history teacher Miss Dingwall was impeccable, she treated us like scholars and required us to work up to a high standard, my college world civ teacher mrs. kirkpatrick was also incredible and considered one of the best professors on campus
in short family and teachers who valued history taught me to value history myself


message 25: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments I remember in the early-mid 70's they used to rerun an old TV series from the sixites on Saturday afternoon.......THE TIME TUNNEL:The two protagonists enter an experimental time machine in 1968 and every week they were transported to various key events in the past and sometimes the future.

On their first segment they landed on the Titanic.
This was the first time I had ever heard of the famous disaster. It made me want to learn more about it.

They had lot of interesting segments and they all made me want to learn more about history. I still remember some of their adventures...
Ancient Troy
Cortez's conquest of Mexico
The Battle of New Orleans
Krakatoa
The Alamo
Lincoln's assasination
Earth invaded by aliens in 1987


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

when i learned about it in school. i wanna be a social studies teacher


message 27: by Stef (new)

Stef (buch_ratte) | 12 comments 5th grade when my teacher told us about Egypt. She had spent the summer in Egypt and showed us a lot of interesting pictures. From that moment on I was fascinated by history. And my fascination lasts until today.


message 28: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) I was visiting a friend in Maine the summer after 6th grade. One rainy day, we bought some model planes to build. The history of the various aircraft that was printed on the boxes fascinated me and this fascination eventually broadened into a more general love of history.

That and when I watched 'Meatballs' as a kid and Chris Makepeace's character Rudy tells Bill Murray that history was his favorite subject in school. I related to Rudy and realized that I felt the same way!


message 29: by Eric (new)

Eric My family is responsible in large part for my interest in history. Several members come to mind: my aunt, who worked at a newspaper, has sent me an innumerable amount of history books she receives for review; my father has always been interested in modern military history; my uncle has had a borderline obsession with U.S. Marine Corp history for decades; my grandfather has had a vast variety of periodicals, books, and taped documentaries on the Civil War available for years. My own historical interests--mainly in pre-modern history--and viewpoints differ from theirs; they tend to be rather pro-American, pro-military, pro-capitalist, and to a large extent xenophobic, while I am much more egalitarian in approach and consider myself a libertarian socialist. Despite this, I remain indebted to them for their constant stoking of the fire.


message 30: by Ari (new)

Ari (aricl) Years ago I had a boyfriend who absolutely loved History.

Though I am loathe to admit it, due to his probably being the biggest (or, at the very least, 2nd biggest) ass I've ever dated, his fascination and passion for History struck a cord in me and helped me view it in a completely different light.

He, on the other hand, I sent on his merry way a LONG time ago, and not a second too soon :P


message 31: by G.R. (new)

G.R. (grcollia) I've always had one foot in the past. When I was very young my family used to take my sister and I to museums and historic houses and I loved those visits. I spent every Saturday in the local museum with my grandfather, looking at mummies. Also, my grandfather would tell me stories about the war, and show me his medals and coins. I didn't really have any interest in anything modern at all.





message 32: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 113 comments Am I seeing a familiar thread here? Is there a history gene?? lol. Seriously, our interests generally have been nurtured by family or close friends. Some of us have been lucky enough to have been challenged by teachers. Think of those who are proud of thier cultures and can recite generational info: History really truly is not boring!


message 33: by George (new)

George | 179 comments I suppose one might say it was pounded into me. on my first day of school in North Florida in the late 50's, my teacher asked us where we were born, and I told them Germany. So, afterwards several of them ganged up on me after class and beat me up, calling me Nazi. Of course eventually I was able to convince them of my citizenship rights in several one on one consultations, but it did make me very interested in the war, European and US history, and things sort of went from there.


message 34: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 113 comments I am German on my father's side. It is strange what fear of the unknown does. My mother says between WWI and WWII Instead of telling naughty children that the booger man would get them, they were told to behave or the Germans would get them....and she married one!



















i


message 35: by Boreal Elizabeth (last edited Nov 09, 2008 09:30PM) (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments wow george
sorry
my son's grandmother-in-law was a teen during the war and was forced to be a "good german"
she was greatly disturbed by our war in Iraq
and is now suffering from dementia
when she first sees you she says "heil hitler"
the greeting she had to say when walking the streets in her town
she then secretly tells you, i'm with the german underground
i also once heard a woman speak about her childhood experiences and the fear the average german lived under was unbelievable
and the resultant guilt they carry is terrible
i also remember as a child being suspicious of germans
the human toll continues after a war in ways we can't imagine

on another note: my uncle wrote a book "Behind Barbed Wire" that is a compilation of letters between farm families in Maine and German soldiers who were prisoners in the U.S. working on their farms and later returned to Germany
it highlights the humanity of all involved in an unlikely situation



message 36: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 113 comments sounds like a good book Elizabeth.


message 37: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments interesting but not well written
it's basically an introduction and compilation of the letters
i haven't even finished it because the first 10 letters or so tell the story and are similar
"thank you for everything you did for me, we are back in germany, could you send us some food"
really sad
but poignant in that american families who may have had sons or relatives fighting in the war helped individual german prisoner families
sort of a bizarre side story to the war


message 38: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 113 comments Why don't you write a new edition, with your uncle's permission of course!


message 39: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments that's an idea-he's deceased now but it would make a good story as opposed of the compilation it now is
it's really more a refernce work
it was published under the auspices of the university and state or local historical society i think


message 40: by Angela (new)

Angela (angelamclaughlin) oh, Autumnal Elizabeth, That could be the basis for a great book. Look at the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book. That was written based on historical fact and in epistolary style. Do you know if any of the Germans ever came back to live in Maine?


message 41: by Will (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments This thread has taken an interesting fork in the discussion.

About Germans and post war Germans, I think of a Luftansa trip to Frankfurt, on which there was shown a movie where the Germans were the bad guys. I asked the German lady in the seat next to me, "Why would you enjoy a movie where the Germans are portrayed as being bad?"

"Oh, that's the old Germans, not the new Germans," she answered. "Like your gangster movies or Westerns where there is a lot of killing by Americans. It's not you, it's history."

No comment on the accuracy of the history in movies, her point was interesting. They had moved on from their past. Some move forward more quickly than others.


message 42: by James (new)

James Will's experience with the in-flight movie reminds me of watching TV when I was stationed in Japan; at one point we were watching Sands of Iwo Jima, with all the dialogue between John Wayne and the rest of the cast dubbed into Japanese. Surreal.

I'm sorry to hear about your getting treated that way, George. Kind of sounds like the way some idiots went around during WW1 kicking dachshunds because they were German dogs. Funny, there's no record of anyone doing the same with German Shepherds.


message 43: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
No, but a lot of people did start calling them "Alsatian shepherds." Also, sauerkraut was renamed "liberty cabbage."


message 44: by George (new)

George | 179 comments Well, it didn't kill me, so.... And it didn't take long at all to fit in enough to get along. However, it did push me into a somewhat different perspective on things, and I never did completely identify myself with all the Southerners I grew up with, there was always a sense of other, which I became increasingly comfortable with.

But of course, back then TV was filled with WWII movies, TV shows, Saturday morning cartoons, Bugs Bunny and the rest of his crew went to war too, you know, and the cartoons were pretty extreme at times. I think I was the only one in class born more than 50 miles away from the school. So, their reactions weren't all that difficult to understand looking back.


message 45: by James (new)

James Liberty Cabbage then, Freedom Fries more recently... I wonder whether people in other places have done similar things with the names of American food items?


message 46: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments to those who commented on my uncle's book
yes i have definitely considered writing "the story" and probably will at some point because it is so interesting
several prisoners returned years later
they had a special ceremony
my uncle took part as the author and he compiled it in the first place because he was the company clerk at the prisoner of war camp
like i said it was very poignant and slightly bizarre



message 47: by Lena (new)

Lena (Weathy) | 6 comments I became interested in history when my teacher read a book about the American Revolution, and the subject absolutely fascinated me. The events and the people are truly amazing. I then set out reading more books about it. This was in kindergarten. Since then, I have grown to love all history and visit many historical sites each year.


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