Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Making History Relevant

By Jeff Burns

In the fall of 2013, when the four Histocrats got together to form our group and to embark on our journey, our mission was to share our own love of history in all of its forms with the public at large.  Of course we had no idea how large or small our “public” would be, maybe just a few of our friends and family members.  However, that didn’t matter.  We wanted to continue our relationship, cultivated as colleagues sharing great history experiences through participation in Teaching American History grants over the course of a decade.  We’ve been humbled by the response and opportunities we’ve received thus far, and we have discovered that there is both a great audience and a great need for history and history education.

We have just become aware of the History Relevance Campaign (HRC) first informally organized in 2012 by historians and historical organizations with the purpose of engaging in conversations about ways to make history and history education more relevant in Americans’ lives.  Wait, that’s not really stated correctly, is it?  I mean, if you are reading this, chances are that you already believe in the relevance of history.  I guess a better way to say it would be “to make Americans more aware of how incredibly relevant history is to their everyday lives.”

We see the need for more historical awareness every day, in man on the street interviews and polls that expose our fellow citizens’ ignorance and in the blatant misuse and misinterpretation of history by politicians, entertainers, businesses, and the media.  HRC's 7 point statement, Value of History, emphasizes the role history plays in our lives and our communities. History is essential to personal identity and the development our communities. People and places grounded in historic knowledge are better prepared to approach the future.

Are you interested in getting involved in the History Relevance Campaign? Check out their website and toolkit. You can find ways to get involved. The Impact Project is just one of many opportunities. What will you do to promote history?

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