History You Can Use

Old farm trucks, typewriters, guns from several wars ago, clothes handed down across three generations, silverware and dishes, old houses – all of us have some pieces of history which blend into our lives in some way.

Of course, we probably don’t think of these things we use as historical artifacts. That’s probably because museums and the historical profession train us to think about history as something that lives in museums and textbooks.

There is a long human tradition of actually using history. Even now and even in 21st century America, where people tend to replace things and buy things new, you probably have some old hand-me-downs that could solve some problem for you.

It’s deeply satisfying to find a solution to a problem or discover a useful resource that also has the significance and story of a life lived before you. Your grandfather’s work gloves are just going to be better than a pair of the rack at Lowes. In the same way, those work gloves are going to mean much more if they’re out helping you plant trees (perhaps for your own grandchildren) than if they’re sitting on a display case.

It may seem counterintuitive, but using history may be the best way to really value and preserve it in the ways that count.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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