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Are historians required to memorize or be knowledgeable of every significant event in history?

Are historians required to memorize or be knowledgeable of every significant event in history?

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Undergraduate history students are usually required to complete different courses spanning from ancient Egypt to the Cold War. But given the vastness of history, it is impossible to memorize and keep in mind all the significant events that changed mankind. It is likely that by time you reach your 20th century history lessons, you will have already forgotten the name of the last Egyptian emperor. If so, are professional historians required to be good at or knowledgeable in all areas of History?


Professional historians are expected to demonstrate research capabilities. And mostly in one or two narrow specialties of history.

For most graduate programs, there is no "comprehensive" test or "common core" curriculum that one needs to pass. Historians do have to submit PhD dissertations, but those are "research," not "general knowledge" works.

Historians need to specialize in a specific area and time to make a contribution to research, and to generalize well enough to see patterns where they affect their area of research.

Recently I talked to a software developer over lunch about recent politics in Europe and I mentioned the Russian Civil War. and the Allied intervention. He knew neither the war nor the intervention. Perhaps that is excusable in a software developer, but for a historian that would be a poor showing.

Just memorizing the names and dates is pointless. Knowing what historical figures did and in what order is priceless.


"First landing of Columbus on the shores of the New World, at San Salvador" by Dióscoro Puebla. Public Domain. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christopher_Columbus3.jpg

When analysing a source, it is helpful to know the perspective of the creator, as this helps you to accurately assess its reliability and relevance.

What is 'perspective'?

Perspective is the 'point of view' from which the creator of a source described historical events.

Every person sees and understands events differently depending on their age, gender, social position, beliefs and values. Even modern historians have their own perspectives which can influence how they interpret the past.

Two groups of fans at a football match will see the same game differently. Fans of the winning side will have a positive view and will usually talk about how great their team's actions were. The fans of the losing side will be quite negative and may blame the result on referees or 'cheating' by the opposing team. How can two groups see the same event differently? The answer is 'perspective': they had a different point of view.

Watch a video explanation on the History Skills YouTube channel:


The American holiday Juneteenth is observed on June 19. It is also known as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day.

Pointy shoes destroyed rich people's feet in medieval England

People who followed a medieval fad of wearing pointy-toed shoes suffered severe foot deformities.

Antarctica was likely discovered 1,100 years before Westerners 'found' it

An analysis of Māori oral traditions and artwork suggests that they found Antarctica before the Europeans did.

Ancient people lived at German 'Stonehenge,' site of brutal human sacrifices

The "German Stonehenge," a place for ritual events and possibly even human sacrifice, was also a home to many during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

7,000-year-old letter seal found in Israel hints at ancient long-distance trade

The tiny clay impression dates back 7,000 years and was likely used to seal and sign deliveries, as well as to keep storerooms closed, according to a new study.

Girl buried with finch in her mouth puzzles archaeologists

Archaeologists are trying to solve the mystery of a girl who was buried with the head of at least one finch in her mouth hundreds of years ago.

What does the devil look like? Here's 8 historical images of Satan

From the fallen angel to the horned goat, we trace 8 real historical images of Satan.

Hoard of silver coins may have been part of historic ransom to save Paris

A hoard of silver coins minted in the Carolingian Empire may have been part of a historic ransom to save Paris from a Viking invasion.

Shackled skeleton may be first direct evidence of slavery in Roman Britain

Iron shackles around a skeleton's legs secured the ankles with a padlock and may provide the first direct evidence of an enslaved person in Roman Britain.

Mysterious East Asians vanished during the ice age. This group replaced them.

People who lived in East Asia since at least 40,000 years ago disappeared during the ice age.

17 decapitated skeletons found at ancient Roman cemetery

Seventeen decapitated skeletons dating back about 1,700 years have been discovered in three Roman cemeteries at Knobb's Farm in Cambridgeshire, in the U.K.

What was the deadliest day in US history?

It's impossible to know for sure the deadliest day in U.S. history because you can end up comparing apples with oranges.

Ancient 'magical' amulet used to ward off the 'evil eye' rediscovered after 40 years

A bronze amulet inscribed with the name of God and symbols for protection against the curse of the "evil eye" has been rediscovered after being lost in Israel 40 years ago.

Amateur archaeologist uncovers earliest known animal carvings in Scotland

An amateur archaeologist recently uncovered the oldest known animal carvings in Scotland while exploring a Bronze Age burial chamber.

20 of the most bizarre stories from the bible

Mass grave of WWII massacre victims could be hiding under field in Singapore

Archeologists are investigating a lawn that's thought to cover the mass grave of the victims of a wartime massacre in Singapore, ahead of the construction of a hospital extension on the site.

Christian monks may have buried this treasure to dupe the Vikings

A hoard discovered in Scotland was likely buried by a bishop hoping to outwit the Viking invaders.

Sunken cities: Discover real-life 'Atlantis' settlements hidden beneath the waves

By Nikole Robinson, How It Works magazine

Explore the submerged cities to discover why they didn’t survive the test of time.

Is Latin a dead language?

Latin is alive and well, but Julius Caesar might struggle to understand its modern form.

Pyramid-shaped mound holding 30 corpses may be world's oldest war monument

A huge burial mound holding the corpses of at least 30 warriors in Syria could be the oldest war memorial ever discovered, dating back at least 4,300 years at the now submerged site of Tell Banat.

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Activity 2. Class Timeline

Prior to this lesson, you will need to collect all of the family timelines to determine the oldest event and prepare your class timeline. On a roll of butcher paper, create the timeline by marking the years at uniform intervals 8-12 inches apart, depending on how many events you have and how many years you need to include. A physically long timeline will help students to understand the distant events, but it still needs to be manageable.

Have each student briefly share his/her timeline with the class. Point out the differences between families and the events that they chose to include. Ask questions that will help the children put time in perspective such as "Who has an event that happened this year? Who has an event that happened before they were born? I was born in ____ who has an event that happened before I was born?" You might also have the children line up in chronological order based on the oldest event on their timelines.

Show the children the timeline you have prepared. Depending on the size, it may be necessary to take it into the hallway or gymnasium to roll it out. Explain that while one important event is happening for one family, a different event may be happening at the same time to another family. We will put all of our events on this one timeline so that we can see how they are all related. One at a time, have students stand on a year that is on their timelines. With a marker, add each event to the timeline.

In order to add a wider perspective, you might want to include events from the larger world on your timeline. The EDSITEment-reviewed resource Internet Public Library has a link to This Day in History. You can find events for any day and search under categories such as entertainment, crime, or general interest, or by time periods such as Civil War and Cold War. Students might enjoy finding an event that occurred on their birthday or other important date from their timeline.

Once all the events are on the timeline, help students make visual comparisons of events as follows. Have a student walk the timeline to look for patterns, then have a student stand at the "present" end of the timeline and make an observation. For example, "We were all born pretty close together, but our parents were born at many different times." Students can visually "see" the past on this timeline. If they stand at the end of the timeline—the present—they can see that all the events in their lifetime are close to where they stand, but events such as the birth of a parent, or the year a grandparent immigrated to this country, are far away.

Key Facts in Nursing History Every Nurse Should Know

The history of nursing used to be part and parcel of most nursing programs. However, due to a plethora of changes in health care, nursing, and technology, there is little room to include this important content. Today, many nursing programs provide a brief overview of nursing’s rich history because the curriculum is overladen with content. Most historians concur that learning about one’s past history provides one with a greater understanding and appreciation of the issues that inform their current and future practice and policies. The history of the nursing profession is closely intertwined with health care, medicine, society, and public policy. We can see a reciprocal influential relationship between current events and the role of the nurse. Throughout the years nurses have played a pivotal role in the health and welfare of the population across the lifespan, and around the world. Recognizing the significance of the past on our current and future profession, the American Association for the History of Nursing advocates for the inclusion of nursing history in nursing curricula.

Nursing’s history is replete with stories of healing, nurturing, hardships, heroism, discovery, ingenuity, caring, compassion, education, research, and leadership. Historical records demonstrate that nurses have been in existence since ancient times, and their roles have evolved from one of an informal caregiver to the untrained nurse to the professionally trained nurse of today. Although we have made significant advancements along the way when looking back on our history one can see that in some ways nurses of today are not that different from the nurses of the past.

Key Facts in Nursing and Medicine

  • Records from ancient time periods demonstrate that nurses and midwives existed.
  • Hippocrates is known as the founder of medicine.
  • Galen is considered one of the greatest Greek physicians after Hippocrates.
  • Some civilizations used slaves, the poor, or fallen women to serve as nurses.
  • From the 1st to 14th centuries nursing care was provided by unskilled men and women.
  • From the 14th to 17th centuries times were turbulent with unsafe conditions, quackery, plagues, and construction of hospitals.
  • During the 18th century family members cared for most of the infirm.
  • In 1732 an almshouse for the poor and infirm was opened in Philadelphia.
  • Pennsylvania hospital was opened in 1851.
  • 18th century nurses made the following contributions:
    • bed warmers
    • heating pads
    • herbal remedies


    Every historical event occurred because of a series of events that happened beforehand. Things that directly lead to another event are called ‘Causes’. Some causes occurred immediately before the event began, while others existed for several years before they caused the event.

    Additional Notes:

    Just because something occurred before the event does not mean it caused it. A cause is something that is directly related to the event. Another way of thinking about it is to say that the later event would not have occurred if the earlier one had not happened.

    Not all causes that lead to a particular historical event are as equally influential as each other. Some causes are more significant than others.

    Assessing Causes

    What earlier events were central to the occurrence of the event under examination?

    Clean Air Act Requirements and History

    Congress established much of the basic structure of the Clean Air Act in 1970, and made major revisions in 1977 and 1990. Dense, visible smog in many of the nation's cities and industrial centers helped to prompt passage of the 1970 legislation at the height of the national environmental movement. The subsequent revisions were designed to improve its effectiveness and to target newly recognized air pollution problems such as acid rain and damage to the stratospheric ozone layer.

    This page provides a brief introduction to the Clean Air Act, links to more detailed information on the law's requirements, and links to information on its history.

    Control of common pollutants

    To protect public health and welfare nationwide, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish national ambient air quality standards for certain common and widespread pollutants based on the latest science. EPA has set air quality standards for six common "criteria pollutants": particulate matter (also known as particle pollution), ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead.

    States are required to adopt enforceable plans to achieve and maintain air quality meeting the air quality standards. State plans also must control emissions that drift across state lines and harm air quality in downwind states.

    Other key provisions are designed to minimize pollution increases from growing numbers of motor vehicles, and from new or expanded industrial plants. The law calls for new stationary sources (e.g., power plants and factories) to use the best available technology, and allows less stringent standards for existing sources.

    Other air pollution problems targeted by Congress

    The Act also contains specific provisions to address:

      that pose health risks such as cancer or environmental threats such as bioaccumulation of heavy metals that damages aquatic life, forests and property
  • Chemical emissions that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from skin cancer and eye damage that impairs visibility in national parks and other recreational areas
  • Pollution problems emerging after enactment

    In addition to creating programs to solve identified pollution problems, Congress drafted the Act with general authorities that can be used to address pollution problems that emerge over time, such as greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

    The Origins of EPA

    Administrator Ruckelshaus was confirmed by the Senate on December 2, 1970, which is the traditional date we use as the birth of the agency.

    Five months earlier, in July 1970, President Nixon had signed Reorganization Plan No. 3 calling for the establishment of EPA in July 1970.

    Two days after his confirmation, on December 4, Ruckelshaus took the oath of office and the initial organization of the agency was drawn up in EPA Order 1110.2.

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    Related Information

    The American conversation about protecting the environment began in the 1960s. Rachel Carson had published her attack on the indiscriminate use of pesticides, Silent Spring, in 1962. Concern about air and water pollution had spread in the wake of disasters. An offshore oil rig in California fouled beaches with millions of gallons of spilled oil. Near Cleveland, Ohio, the Cuyahoga River, choking with chemical contaminants, had spontaneously burst into flames. Astronauts had begun photographing the Earth from space, heightening awareness that the Earth’s resources are finite.

    • requesting four billion dollars for the improvement of water treatment facilities
    • asking for national air quality standards and stringent guidelines to lower motor vehicle emissions
    • launching federally-funded research to reduce automobile pollution
    • ordering a clean-up of federal facilities that had fouled air and water
    • seeking legislation to end the dumping of wastes into the Great Lakes
    • proposing a tax on lead additives in gasoline
    • forwarding to Congress a plan to tighten safeguards on the seaborne transportation of oil and
    • approving a National Contingency Plan for the treatment of oil spills.

    Around the same time, President Nixon also created a council in part to consider how to organize federal government programs designed to reduce pollution, so that those programs could efficiently address the goals laid out in his message on the environment.

    Following the council’s recommendations, the president sent to Congress a plan to consolidate many environmental responsibilities of the federal government under one agency, a new Environmental Protection Agency. This reorganization would permit response to environmental problems in a manner beyond the previous capability of government pollution control programs:

    • The EPA would have the capacity to do research on important pollutants irrespective of the media in which they appear, and on the impact of these pollutants on the total environment.
    • Both by itself and together with other agencies, the EPA would monitor the condition of the environment--biological as well as physical.
    • With these data, the EPA would be able to establish quantitative "environmental baselines"--critical for efforts to measure adequately the success or failure of pollution abatement efforts.
    • The EPA would be able--in concert with the states--to set and enforce standards for air and water quality and for individual pollutants.
    • Industries seeking to minimize the adverse impact of their activities on the environment would be assured of consistent standards covering the full range of their waste disposal problems.
    • As states developed and expanded their own pollution control programs, they would be able to look to one agency to support their efforts with financial and technical assistance and training.

    After conducting hearings during that summer, the House and Senate approved the proposal. The agency’s first Administrator, William Ruckelshaus, took the oath of office on December 4, 1970.

    The documents below shed more light on EPA's birth and early years. Note that these documents are now in EPA's archive. To find one, click on the Search EPA Archive button and copy the name of the document into the search box on the archive home page. To ensure the best search results, be sure to put quotes around the name of the document.

    Article "Origins of the EPA" in the Spring 1992 issue of The Guardian -- provides background on conservation, ecology and early environmental movements, the first Earth Day, and the establishment of EPA.

    President's Advisory Council on Executive Organization ("Ash Council") memo (April 1970) advising President Nixon to form EPA

    Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 (July 9, 1970) - message from President Nixon to Congress about reorganization plans to establish EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    EPA Order 1110.2 (December 4, 1970) - initial organization of EPA

    Article "The Birth of EPA" in the November 1985 issue of EPA Journal

    December 1970 press release "First Administrator Ruckelshaus on the establishment of EPA"

    Document: Duties Transferred to EPA from Other Agencies

    Document: Origin of the EPA Seal

    • the early years of EPA, including functions transferred from other agencies
    • EPA's early organization EPA's enforcement strategy
    • early air pollution control efforts
    • the banning of DDT and
    • the leadership of EPA Administrators William D. Ruckelshaus and Russell E. Train.

    Article "EPA History (1970-1985)" prepared in November 1985 by the EPA Office of Public Awareness on the occasion of EPA's 15th anniversary

    LGBTQ History and Why It Matters

    For more ideas and guidance on how to incorporate LGBTQ+ voices and history into your teaching, view our on-demand webinar, Bringing LGBTQ Upstanders into Your Classroom: A Conversation with Eric Marcus.

    Essential Questions

    How can the way that history is taught and remembered create or reinforce “in” groups and “out” groups in a society?


    While many students have heard about some events in LGBTQ history (such as the Stonewall Riots or the activism, political career, and assassination of Harvey Milk in San Francisco), many significant people and events in the history of the LGBTQ rights movement are often underrepresented in textbooks and K-12 curricula. In this lesson, students will learn about LGBTQ history spanning from the Roman Empire to the year 2016 by participating in a human timeline activity. The activity uses resources created by GLSEN, a national organization dedicated to ensuring that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students have access to a safe and affirming school environment where they can learn and grow.

    By examining the broader sweep of LGBTQ history, this lesson helps students put people and events into more meaningful context. This lesson also gives students the opportunity to consider whose experiences are included in the history taught in schools, whose are often left out, and how that may reflect and perpetuate the “in” groups and “out” groups in our society. Over the course of this lesson, students will practice important skills such as summarizing, inferencing, and presenting material orally as they learn about LGBTQ history and reflect on how that history is represented in their textbooks and curricula.


    Teaching Strategies:


    Reflect on the Stories Included in History and Literature Classes

    • Tell students that in this lesson they will be learning about LGBTQ history but first, they will reflect in their journals on whose stories are represented in their social studies and literature classes, whose stories are oftentimes left out, and how that exclusion might impact the identities and experiences of individuals in those groups.
    • Ask students to create a pie chart in their journals that represents, in their experience, the groups of people whose stories are represented in their history and literature books and classes, and the percentage of time devoted to each group. You can let students define the groups themselves, or you might name some specific groups (such as African Americans, Latin Americans, LGBTQ, and white Americans in an American history course) to get them started.
    • Underneath their pie charts, ask students to respond to the following questions in their journals:
      • What conclusions about your social studies and literature curriculum can you make based on your pie chart?
      • What questions does your pie chart raise for you?

      Tell students that they will be making a Human Timeline of significant events in LGBTQ history. After distributing one GLSEN LGBTQ history card to each student, ask them to respond to the following prompts in their journals before you begin the human timeline:

      • Summarize your event in your own words.
      • What do you already know about your event? (Skip to the next question if this event is entirely new to you.)
      • What do you want to know about your event that is not included on your card?

      Ask students to return to their seats and distribute the GLSEN LGBTQ History Timeline handout to the class. Students might read through the timeline on their own or with a partner. To encourage active reading, ask the students to annotate for the following information:

      Understanding Historical Perspective

      All historians bring to their works their own historical perspective. That perspective might be determined by his or her political bent or by the use of social theories in the analysis.

      Every historian’s ideas are somewhere on the political spectrum. Historians may be described as conservative, liberal, or anywhere in between. Rarely do scholars acknowledge their political perspective in their works however, that does not mean that a perspective does not exist. For instance, these historians differ significantly in their political views of Columbus and his world:

      “The Spain that Christopher Columbus and his crews left behind just before dawn on August 3, 1492, as they sailed forth from Palos and out into the Atlantic, was for most of its people a land of violence, squalor, treachery, and intolerance. In this respect Spain was no different from the rest of Europe.” David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 57.

      “Columbus personified the modern spirit. A modest capitalist, he invested some of his own money in the venture. When his tiny vessels dipped below the horizon in 1492, they carried with them a transcendent faith in the individual–and a passion for wealth, power, and glory.” Thomas Greer, A Brief History of Western Man, 2nd ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972), 210.

      Some historians’ works are informed by social theories. These theories most frequently include Marxism and feminism. The use of the specific vocabulary of a theory, such as “patriarchy” and “exploitation,” often indicate an author’s use of that social theory in his or her analysis.

      For instance, feminist works often discuss patriarchy and the subordination of women:

      “Historically, the generative capacity of women has been the material basis for their subordination and oppression. Men, ruling classes, and states have sought to manipulate this capacity to suit their economic and political needs at various periods. This study presents one example, that of a planter class attempting to control the reproductive capacity of slave women in order to further its economic interests.” Rhoda E. Reddock, “Women and Slavery in the Caribbean: A Feminist Perspective,” Latin American Perspectives 44 (Winter 1985): 76-77.

      “The purpose of this article is to suggest that the burdens shouldered by slave women actually represented in extreme form the dual nature of all women’s labor within a patriarchal, capitalist society: the production of goods and services and the reproduction and care of members of a future work force.” Jacqueline Jones, “‘My Mother Was Much of a Woman’: Black Women, Work and the Family under Slavery,” Feminist Studies 8 (1982): 236.

      Marxist works frequently describe relationships in terms of class structure and capital:

      “In the Old South extensive and complicated commercial relations with the world market permitted the growth of a small commercial bourgeoisie. The resulting fortunes flowed into slaveholding, which offered prestige and was economically and politically secure in a planter-dominated society. ” Eugene Genovese, “The Slave South: An Interpretation,” Science and Society 25 (1961): 323.

      “Similarly in Cuba slave mothers returned to work about six weeks after childbirth, at which time the child was turned over to the plantation nursery . . . . This illustration lays bare the realities of marriage and the nuclear family. In this period in Caribbean history, this form of social organization did not meet the needs of capital.” Rhoda E. Reddock, “Women and Slavery in the Caribbean: A Feminist Perspective,” Latin American Perspectives 44 (Winter 1985): 68-69.

      Watch the video: Η ιστορική παλιά Βίνιανη Ευρυτανίας (July 2022).


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