Invigorate Your History (And Your Family’s) Life!

Following on the heels of my historical consideration of Thanksgiving I’m back tracking to the topic of how to make history a part of daily family life (“I Beg of You… Don’t Hate History”– continued).

(Image: Amanda Stiver)

For those with a pre-existing love of history, this isn’t a problem, people like us discuss history all the time; family history, world history, military history, ancient history, etc.,… we have endless arguments about fairly trivial points of history. We (animatedly) discuss the number of soldiers under the command of a centurion in Ancient Rome – 100 or 60? (60 to 80 actually, opposed to the commonly assumed 100.) We argue about the way people dressed or the historically inaccurate firearms used in movies… and on… and on.

But what about the way people lived a mere two or three generations ago, how do you make that live?

(Image: Amanda Stiver)

I’ll cut to the chase… If you want to learn domestic history for the past 70 to 80 years you can read a few good books on various subjects, or a few dry textbooks that cover all of it… or… you can get a subscription to Reminisce magazine, Looking Back, Good Old Days or one of the other nostalgia periodicals and read compelling, quaint, realistic, snippets of life from the turn of the century to the present day.

I’m not shilling any of these publications I simply like them. They remind me of the stories my parents and grandparents told me about life in past decades. Reading about these people is far from the skewed social messages of neo-socialist-Marxist education materials, you get a sense of how real, ordinary people lived… and they have pictures!

The fundamental commonality of the stories in these publications is usually expressed in this way, “We were so poor, but we really didn’t know it, we had food from the farm, a home, and a loving family.” People worked hard and enjoyed the little they had. They had a sense of hard work, and hope for the future. They were individuals, but they had compassion for their fellow man and a duty to their community that can’t be legislated by a government.

(Image: Amanda Stiver)

I can’t recommend these resources enough. Some of the above publishers also produce compilations of articles based on various subjects, for example the Great Depression. They include photographs and short article stories that are a great read to share with young ones (did I mention the pictures?). Getting them interested in these very human stories is an effective gateway to a lifelong love of history. True history.

– Amanda Stiver


  1. I think part of the problem of our current world is awareness. I are aware of how elites live, we are aware of how corrupt our leaders are, we are aware of the immorality of our cultural and political representatives, and we are a lot less content about it as a result. The skewed wealth and power relationships of the past were not just, but they ultimately did not cause social disharmony because they were largely unknown by those who were doing what they were put on earth to do. My question to you, from one historian to another, is do you blame our problems for a greater awareness of how others live, or for the fact that the sins that have been brought to light because of greater technology and the greater spread of the media have been uncorrected and not repented of?


  2. I think greater knowledge of society has definitely made it more difficult to live in. We certainly know more about many people, especially celebrities, than anyone would care to know and so few have a solid moral core.

    I agree with you, people have less of a sense of where they fit in and as our society continues to urbanize and technologize it will continue to get worse. I have to plug the benefits of an agrarian-based society, the closer more people are to the creation, they tend to be more grounded and less dissatisfied. It isn’t a cure-all and there are abundantly crummy agrarian societies, but as a rule, more people on the farm produces more people grounded by reality and the fundamental needs and how they are provided for.

    That said, I honestly think a crumbling moral core in general, a basic lack of knowledge of right from wrong is the main rend in today’s fabric. Dissatisfaction is a side-effect of that rend. That’s why we look back two or three generations and go, wow, look how happy they were… and they were, despite the challenges of working-poverty (they tended not to be impoverished from lassitude) because they knew who they were, that there was justice and a God who made things even out in the end.


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