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18 Posts authored by: Thomas Richardson Expert

The home front directed factory production, agricultural output, and local community energies to the war effort in World War I. President Woodrow Wilson stated that ‘it is not only an army we must shape and train, but also a nation.’ National sentiment leaned mostly to isolation, but by 1917, the U.S. became increasingly involved overseas, culminating in its war declaration in April 1917. Local, regional energies and dozens of civilian and government committees were formed to contribute to the war effort. Communities saw it as a point of patriotic pride by ingratiating themselves with home front activities.

 

Alongside the Council on National Defense, women's groups were pivotal in orchestrating home front activities. The Women’s Land Army of America placed thousands of volunteers on farms and ranches to compensate for the loss of labor. Thousands volunteered for the Red Cross and the Women's Committee, whose primary goal was registering member’s skills and directing food donations. The Woman's Committee worked in conjunction with the US Food Administration and its director, future US President Herbert Hoover. Woman's Committee chapters operated locally, orchestrating food drives and agricultural practices in their community. Local food production was essential and securing enough for the armed services meant coming up with creative solutions at home that would not put additional pressure on the economy.

 

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(Meeting of the Woman's Committee with Council on National Defense, April 1918, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/26432765 )

 

One focus of the Woman's Committee was to educate children and participating in school activities. These primarily included teaching children how to start a local garden, run food drives, and taught them how to can food. Each of these taught children and their families how they could save and preserve their food supply. This allowed people to conserve and stretch their groceries further, which in turn a meant less food consumption. The Anti-Waste Campaign by the Food Administration collaborated with numerous local organizations to streamline the available food supply that was donated for the war effort and cut down on unnecessary food waste.

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(Firemen and members of the Community Canning Centre canning corn with the Food Administration, September 1917, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/31481413 )

 

Former NAWSA President Dr. Anna Howard Shaw was appointed Chairman of the  Woman's Committee and her connections with women's suffrage groups proved critical in coordinating home front logistics and having a ready supply of volunteers. Dr. Shaw’s efforts awarded her the Distinguished Service Medal, the first woman to receive the award. These interactions were not without some disagreements and compromises though. During the war, women's suffrage activism was largely suspended in order to support the war effort; suffrage organizations who participated in home front work received widespread acclaim during the war that later played a critical role in passage of the 19th Amendment.

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(Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, former President of NAWSA and Chairman of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, circa 1918, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/55164399 )

 

Womens organizations in World War I played a crucial role on the home front and integrated the war effort into every community and home. Their grassroots organization and volunteer efforts were all a pivotal component of the United States' home front effort to secure victory for Allied forces in the Great War.

     Food is essential to life and civilization. Countless struggles and conflicts can be traced to the availability and access to food, making it an absolute necessity. In war, the logistics required to feed the armed forces was a Herculean effort with impacts resonating from the government down to the local level. During World War I, the rationing of specific food stuffs and commodities were central to helping procure the necessary wartime materials. Unlike World War II however, ration stamps were not distributed, but instead, private individuals and volunteer organizations lead a grassroots campaign to reduce pressure on the national food supply. Here was the rise of some of the country’s first ‘victory gardens.’

 

            Charles Lathrop Pack, a businessman from Michigan, conceived of the idea of how to compensate the loss of manual labor recruited from agriculture while not putting additional pressure on the industry. Food production in Europe had essentially halted with the war and the United States was one of the few remaining industrial agricultural nations capable of the mass-production of foodstuffs. Pack believed that by having people cultivate their own gardens, it would prevent already stressed farms from having to replenish the rapidly decreasing food supply. In March 1917, Pack established the National War Garden Commission which embarked on a national campaign encouraging and educating people on the importance and function of maintaining a wartime garden. The fruits and vegetables they harvested would allow the government to ship more supplies overseas. Simultaneously, federal agencies such as the U.S. Food Administration oversaw the collection, shipment, and distribution of supplies from the United States to Europe.  Food Administrator and future U.S. President Herbert Hoover heavily promoted targeted campaigns to help reduce the reliance on foodstuffs sorely needed by the AEF; campaigns like ‘Meatless Meals’ and ‘Wheatless Wednesday’ deterred people from using so they could be donated to the Food Administration.

 

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          (Charles Lathrop Pack speaking to the Champion War Gardeners and Canners in Bryant Park, Food Administration, Campaign, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/31482022 )

         

            Coinciding with these food programs, volunteer organizations assisted parts of the agricultural industry to help relieve the stress they endured with much of the labor force now overseas. A regional organization, the Women’s Land Army of America, trained and assigned volunteers to specific farms and ranches to help bolster the workforce. Nominally referred to as ‘farmettes’ volunteers consisted mostly of students, teachers, clerks, and other white collar workers who never worked on farms before. They were trained in agricultural basics and by 1918, they employed over 20,000 women. While not receiving any government assistance, they were supported by members of the Progressive Movement, like Theodore Roosevelt and President Woodrow Wilson and received much of their funding through university non-profits.

 

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                              (Women's Land Army of America unit working the onion harvest at Erie College in Painesville Ohio, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/31481724 )

 

            Victory gardens sprang up all over the country and even after the war ended, they remained as community gardens. By the outbreak of World War II, the victory garden practice re-emerged and people again relied on each other to make sure soldiers and neighbors had enough food to win the war.

     The mobilization of European armies in the opening months of World War I revealed the sheer size that the war would take. Armies numbering hundreds of thousands with the latest military technology were about to clash across Europe. As the United States witnessed these unfolding events, a small group of military officers, politicians, and other affluent individuals took to the public with a dire message; the US military was woefully ill prepared to defend itself, much less mount an expeditionary force to France. This push to improve the readiness of the US military including training and mandatory service was named the Preparedness Movement. Notables such as former Chief-of-Staff General Leonard Wood and former President Theodore Roosevelt argued that the US Army lacked the manpower, infrastructure, and sufficient training for defense. Former Secretaries of War Elihu Root and Henry Stimson publicly advocated for an increase in military spending and officer training schools. This enthusiasm for bolstering national defense was matched by a strong opposition. President Woodrow Wilson advocated for an armed neutrality rather than increase military spending.

 

     The Preparedness Movement initially gained traction with prominent industrialists and politicians who believed in mediating international affairs via strong military. The internationalism focus ran counter to isolationist groups who not only wanted to remain neutral, but claimed that some Preparedness Movement proposals would resemble European armies they wanted to avoid, e.g. Germany. This situation gradually changed in 1915 and 1916 with two events; the Pancho Villa raid across the US-Mexico border and the sinking of the Lusitania. US national defense was tested, showing how the military faced numerous obstacles in ensuring their protection. Wilson and his Cabinet embarked on implementing a few of the programs supported by the Preparedness Movement, including a larger navy. By June 1916, Congress passed then National Defense Act which expanded the Army and National Guard and implemented the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). With passage of the NDA, the Preparedness Movement achieved much of its objectives and dissipated.

 

     While controversial in its time, the Preparedness Movement pushed for the military readiness its members believed was crucial to ensure their protection and intervene abroad.

 

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        (Woodrow Wilson in a Preparedness Parade in Washington D.C., June 1916, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/23922795 )

     Securing lines of communication are vital in every war and on every battlefield. If the enemy broke this security, they can quickly learn of impending attacks, logistical situations, and thwart their opponents at every opportunity. In World War I, German radio operators and code-breakers were adept in their monitoring and deciphering of enemy communications. Fortunately for the American Expeditionary Force, they discovered a valuable asset that pioneered an innovative and wholly North American trait in their military communications: Native American code-talkers.

 

                Choctaw Indians serving in France regularly spoke in their native languages within their group. One day, Colonel A.W. Bloor of the 142nd Infantry Regiment heard a conversation and realized something extraordinary; the Germans would have an arduous time trying to decipher messages if they were encoded in Choctaw. Native American languages possess uniqueness in that they are not typically written down and were relatively unknown to Europeans. Colonel Bloor decided to utilize these Choctaw soldiers in developing a military code using their specific dialects. An obstacle to this however was much of the US military vocabulary did not have a corresponding word in Choctaw dialects. This forced them to improvise certain words that related to their messages. Colonel Bloor described this process in a report to his commanding general’s headquarters:

 

It had been found that the Indian’s vocabulary of military terms was insufficient. The Indian word for “big gun” was used to indicate artillery. “Little gun shoot fast” was substituted for machine gun, and the battalions were indicated by “one, two, three grains of corn.”’

 

(You can read the entire report here on the National Archives Catalog: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/301642

 

Following training periods for developing a standardized Native American code, it was quickly implemented and Colonel Bloor noticed instantaneous results. German code-breakers who routinely decipher American messages were soon stumped by the innovative use of Choctaw dialects. Repeated surprises by AEF assaults seemed to confirm that the Germans could not understand the new Native American code-talkers. Captured German soldiers later stated that the use of Native American languages had completely confused them and they could not gain any useful information out of them.

 

                Despite their achievements in France, the Choctaw code-talkers were largely forgotten after the end of the war. The prominence of Navajo code-talkers in World War II overshadowed much of the Choctaw’s former accomplishments in encoding military messages. In the 1980s, they received posthumous honors from both the Choctaw Nation and France for their contributions and in 2008, President George Bush signed the Code Talkers Recognition Act which posthumously awarded every code-talker a Congressional Gold Medal.

 

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     In World War I, the Meuse-Argonne was the scene of bloody fighting inflicted and sustained by the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Nearly two hundred-thousand casualties were suffered by the Allies, making it one of the deadliest battles ever fought by American soldiers. Shining through the fighting were courageous acts of bravery, valor, and sacrifice by those saving their comrades and leading troops against deadly odds. One of the most well-known of these heroes was Alvin Cullum York of Tennessee. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Corporal York approached a German machine gun emplacement and killed its crew, survived a German bayonet charge, and captured 132 enemy soldiers, including the commanding lieutenant. His actions merited an immediate promotion to Sergeant and the Distinguished Service Cross. Later after an official review, the DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, awarded personally by General John J. Pershing.  The international attention earned him a celebrity status following the war and became known by his sobriquet, Sergeant York.

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     Alvin York did not imagine the acclaim he received after returning from France. After all, he initially registered as a conscientious objector. York was brought up in a devoutly religious family and belonged to the Church of Christ in Christian Union denomination (CCCU) which forbade the use of violence. The Selective Service Act of 1917 required all able bodied men after the age of 21 to register for the draft and when York’s claim for CO status was denied, he appealed this decision on religious grounds. Conscientious objectors were not wholly exempt from military service in 1917 however as they were normally given non-combat assignments. When training began at Camp Gordon, Georgia, York routinely felt conflicted between his military duty and religious conscience on pacifism. Two of his commanding officers, Capt. Edward C.B. Danforth and Major G. Edward Buxton argued that his religious beliefs didn’t conflict with his duties as a soldier, citing Bible verses which eventually convinced York that his military service wouldn’t force him to compromise his morality. York was assigned to the 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Division and saw his first combat during the St. Mihiel Offensive. On October 8, 1918, Cpl. York led the charge on Hill 233 in the Meuse-Argonne that catapulted him to international renown and earned him the Medal of Honor.

 

     Following his homecoming, York immediately went back to work in his home state. In the 1920s, he founded the Alvin C. York Foundation for the purpose of providing educational and agricultural training for students in Tennessee (the agricultural school established by the foundation in 1926 now exists as a state operated high school, the Alvin C. York Institute). During the Great Depression, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 and oversaw the construction of the Cumberland Mountain State Park. When the United States entered World War II, he re-enlisted, but because he suffered from a myriad of health issues, he was not given a combat assignment. Instead, York was commissioned as a Major in the Army Signal Corps and inspected training camps during the war. Alvin York continued to campaign for proper education and training for everyone and on September 2, 1964, he died at the Nashville Veterans Hospital.

 

     Alvin York never lost his religious conviction while in the Meuse-Argonne and when asked by his brigade commander General Julian Lindsey what happened, he replied “A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do.”

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(Alvin York's draft card, World War I Selective Service Draft Registration Card, National Archives at Atlanta, note on Question 12 asking '               do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)' York answers 'yes, don't want to fight.')

Yesterday on April 2nd in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress and asked for what many in the chambers believed was inevitable; a declaration of war against Germany. European nations had fought for three bloody years across the continent and now the United States was about to enter the conflict. Even though the country was already supplying Allied powers with war materials, they were now about to commit their own troops. As the WWI centennial approaches on April 6th when war was finally declared, government agencies, commissions, and historical organizations across the country are developing educational programs about the role of the US in WWI. This makes learning about the Great War a great time for researchers and history buffs alike.

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If you're passionate learning about the Great War, be sure to post your questions and comments to NARA staff and researchers here on the History Hub. Be sure to check out the Remembering World War 1 group and learn about a new interactive app entitled 'Remembering WWI.' With the app, users can research and utilize an incredible amount of newly digitized WWI materials not only from NARA, but from partner institutions sharing their collections. These innovative approaches to accessing WWI records and connecting with NARA holdings will provide researchers and historians with more readily available information. You can learn more about what kinds of WWI records held by NARA in the Military Records group and if you'd like research assistance, be sure to check out the Researchers Help group as well. You can also post your Research and findings in the Share Your Research group as well.

 

Be sure to check out these groups to learn about more WWI centennial programs:

WWI Centennial Commission: Home - World War I Centennial

National WWI Museum: National World War I Museum and Memorial 

Imperial War Museum: Imperial War Museums 

 

Thank you for using the History Hub and happy researching!

Since 1976, every February is recognized as Black History Month where museums, schools, archives, universities, and institutions celebrate the history and achievements of African-Americans in the United States.  Evolving from a series of efforts spearheaded by historians and educators in the early 1900s, it became an academic / cultural recognition event since the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

 

The beginnings of Black History Month originated with black history groups who established recognition weeks focused on the achievements of African-Americans such as Frederick Douglass.  The movement spread across the country as additional schools and towns began holding their own Black History weeks.  Coinciding with the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially designated February as Black History Month and since then, each year has focused on a certain theme relating to Black History and its importance.

 

If you'd like to know more about the National Archives holdings on African-American history, you can check out the The specified item was not found. and see additional posts about African-American history here on the History Hub!: Explore, Transcribe, and Celebrate African American History Help Transcribe African American History Records

 

You can also visit the newest museum in the Smithsonian system; the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Opened in September 2016, the museum has collected thousands of documents, artifacts, and you can learn more about them here:

National Museum of African American History and Culture | A museum that seeks to understand American history through the…

Seeing is believing for many people when it comes to questioning what they’ve only been hearing about for years.  A family story told through several generations resonates with family members and how historical events shaped their lives. A story in a book or family documents tells one side of the narrative, but when something comes along that truly affirms all the stories and anecdotes, it makes history all the more real. 

 

Perhaps this is why national landmarks, battlefields, and other historic sites can exhibit a profound impact on someone.  The natural landscape or aged buildings can almost teleport a person back in time to point where history was made, bringing it together in intricate detail. Historic landmarks are the fixture by which historians, genealogists, archivists, educators, and other history enthusiasts can literally touch (or not touch depending on the sites’ rules) the physical structure where many came before.  These are just some of the reasons why preserving historic sites of all types are necessary in the field of history.  If landmarks were to disappear, the difficulty in showing where and how historical events unfolded would increase exponentially.  They’re the physical spaces that fill the blank pages of what we interpret from our history books. 

 

To read about history is one thing, but to see where it all happened and to stand in the environment where notable people and extraordinary events occurred is a different matter all its own. 

 

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The Boston Massacre stop on the Freedom Trail, Boston, MA

"You have 3 new notifications, tweets, retweets, likes, shares, posts, tags, invites, and comments on your photo." Messages like these and many others pop up on our phones, tablets, laptops, and computers nearly everyday as we continue onward through this digital age.  We connect with new people, reconnect with old friends, share our thoughts and opinions, post pictures, and let people know what's going on in our world. Never before has information become so prevalent in our lives than right now.

 

So how does one's passion for history fit into this medium?  Just as one can share and stream their pictures and videos, people can connect with groups, notable historians and writers, and follow specific events that appeal to their love of history. Professional history organizations have taken up social media tools to connect with members and schools, delivering organization news, special announcements, or giving some history highlights. News from the history community can be shared and posted instantaneously in a multitude of ways, informing people of new developments and publications.  We pick our favorite groups and genres of history to post and follow, which can connect us to users of similar interests. The network continues to grow and grow as we continue our history education through using social media. 

 

As the social media medium continues to spread information across the world, historical knowledge can be spread across the world just as easily. There's always something interesting to find when your passion is driving your search.

 

#history #historyisgood #historyisfun #ImaginetheFoundingFathersusingTwitter

 

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Stories exist in all forms for whatever purposes we strive to achieve. Narratives about our families, friends, careers, entertainment, and whether it's all real or a product of our imagination, drives us to uncover and understand more about ourselves.  History is a story as well; rich narratives all intertwined to form a complex portrait of people's ancestry and their circumstances.  One form of history that can intimately connect us with people and how they interpreted their situations is oral history.  The stories passed down through oral tradition and preserved for future generations provide a grass roots approach in understanding how events and people's actions directly affected one's outlook. 

 

More than likely, some of the first histories one learned early in life were family stories told and retold by close relatives. Sharing details about where our relatives came from and how they got there provide the framework for our own history. They came became there was more work to be found, or to escape some form of persecution. Perhaps there was a major dispute within the family, causing them to separate and move apart. Stories like these in the form of oral history reflect the intimacy by which a person remembers their ancestry. 

 

Oral history can be utilized for all kinds of research, whether it's for a school project or something national in scope. Here's how you can start on your oral history journey:

     -Think about who's story you want to hear and record. Maybe it's a story that would help with your research or just for posterity.

     -When you decide to record someone's story, make sure you get their permission beforehand.

     -Write a list of basic questions to establish the person's background (i.e. name, date of birth, name of parents, place of birth, school, work)

     -A recorder (audio cassette or digital) is necessary for preserving their story and for writing subsequent transcripts. Make sure there are      batteries!

     -The recording process can be very fluid and tangents are common with conversation.

     -Start out with some friendly conversation to make them comfortable, then dive into the questions.

     -After you're done, let them know what you'll do with the recording and transcribing afterwards.

   

These are just some tips to help get your started on oral history work. You can find more information online at various oral history websites or visiting your local library. County archives, research centers, and genealogical groups are also great resources to help with recording practices. For more in-depth research help, visit the Researchers Help page here on the History Hub! 

Have you ever listened to stories told by some family members over the years?  Did you learn something interesting about a distant relative you might not have expected?  Family stories and histories can be intimately important to ourselves as we uncover more about our past.  More than likely, these stories were some of the first history lessons you received early on. 

 

Family histories are important for a number of reasons; some of the information is needed for medical or legal uses, establishing a base for public service, looking at education, or for many, to learn about what familial ancestors were like, how they lived, and how the family got to the present day.  All of these are crucial to a genealogist's work.  Family members may have kept journals, notes, or a diary detailing their lives or recorded significant events like a wedding, funeral, or their connection to another major historical event.  Photo albums are another good resource to use in investigating the family's background; seeing the places where they grew up and raised families can provide additional insight.  Legal documents such as marriage, birth, and death certificates are essential milestones also that develop a 'historical road map' for those interested in their family's history. 

 

There are dozens of ways to investigate your family's history and the best way to start is to ask some simple questions; who is this? Who did that? Who lived here? Why do we live here?  Whether the reason for building an accurate family history is uncovering the past, preserving for the future, or just out of simple curiosity, you'll be sure to learn something interesting about your family and yourself.

 

For more information on getting started on your genealogical research, visit The specified item was not found. History Hub group!

 

 

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Congregating, forming relationships, networking, and sharing each other's historical knowledge is important to how we grow intellectually as historians and archivists. We share our knowledge, research, interest, and resources in seeing what new ideas or topics can be explored. Just like what the founders of the first historical societies in the U.S. had in mind (see Entry #6: Gathering Historians in Several Places), people gather together for the purpose of historical enrichment.

 

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National and professional organizations are another pivotal resource for researchers, historians, archivists, and authors for networking and getting more involved with the history community. More or less, it's very likely you've heard of a few of these organizations while enrolled in school or helping independent researchers. Groups like the American Historical Association (American Historical Association Home Page | AHA ) or the Society of American Archivists (Home | Society of American Archivists ) the American Association for State and Local History (Home Page | About, contact, membership, jobs, etc. ) the Organization of American Historians (Organization of American Historians: Home) the American Alliance of Museums (The American Alliance of Museums ) or the National Council on Public History (http://ncph.org/). These are just a handful of the thousands of groups across the world dedicated to the study of history.

 

Not only can one join these groups and take advantage of their services and resources, they are communities for people to share their ideas and interact with one another. They can be incredibly helpful for those wanting to publicly present their research, ask for assistance, or even find jobs, they're that comprehensive!  Organizations regularly host regional and national conferences to announce new publications, sponsor presentations, and host workshops for attendees. Especially for students, these conferences are pivotal in networking with history groups and people and getting your name out there for future research and maybe even career opportunities.  

 

Historical organizations are the historian's consortium! We gather together so we can learn together!

 

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The historical society is a great friend and resource to all those with a passion for history; from the amateur history buff to the distinguished, critically-acclaimed researcher. They provide primary sources for research, professional guidance, host public events, and sponsor educational and professional development for students and educators. Historical societies have become permanent fixtures in states and cities across the world.

 

In 1791, the Reverend Jeremy Belknap and several others donated their personal papers, letters, and books to form what would become the Massachusetts Historical Society; the first ever historical society in North America. These founders believed that the diligent research and practical application of history was central to society and groups like historical societies would greatly benefit society. Sponsoring education initiatives, collecting documents of notable figures, and encouraging historical research were all part of the society's goal. The Reverend Jeremy Belknap and the other nine founders immediately sparked an intellectual fire that spread across the country for years.

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                                   The Reverend Jeremy Belknap (photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society)

 

The next location for a historical society was New York, with the establishment of the New-York Historical Society in 1804. Along with maintaining collections of historical documents and artifacts, the society also operates a museum with an impressive art collection.  The founder, John Pintard, lobbied heavily with many New York politicians and eventually in 1804, the Mayor of New York organized the society. From the beginning, the society faced a multitude of problems; overwhelming debt and frequently moving collections burdened the organization. However, through public endowments and private philanthropy, the society was able to secure its future and become a model historical research organization.

 

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                                               John Pintard (photo courtesy of the New-York Historical Society)

 

Both of these organizations were dedicated to historical study, but in the early 19th century, their practice was largely limited to the state or region. The shift from local to national focus occurred with the founding of the American Antiquarian Society in 1812.  The oldest society that was focused on the nation as a whole, it was spearheaded by Isaiah Thomas (who you might remember as the public reader of the Declaration of Independence and reported first-hand accounts of the Battles of Lexington and Concord). Thomas donated a substantial portion of his own library, letters, and newspapers for the initial collection and encouraged others to do likewise. As the collections grew, so did the society's focus on education, professional development, historiography, and public engagement on historical topics. In modern times, the society's list of notable members has grown exponentially; including those such as John Adams, Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, Henry Louis Gates, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, David McCullough, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson.

 

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                                             Isaiah Thomas (photo courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society)

 

These three organizations were just the beginning in what would become institutions in every U.S state and spread across the globe. As they preserve history, they strive to educate and train the public in how they can be a part of that goal. Everyone can learn about their community, country, and nation and its past; the societies are here to help!

We celebrate multiples types of anniversaries; weddings, reunions, graduations, memorials, birthdays, etc. On top of personal anniversaries, we also hear about all the historical anniversaries as well; D-Day, the polio vaccine, the Moon landing, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Kennedy assassination, Dr. King's 'I Have A Dream Speech', and so much more. These anniversaries not only remind us of our history and how far we've come, but it also gives us further insight into those events themselves.

 

April has great historical significance as a great number of famous events happened throughout the month. Here are just a handful!

 

1958: The Peace Symbol is shown for the first time

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1862: The Battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest battles in US history

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1935: The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is established as part of the New Deal

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1865: General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse Virginia

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1865: President Abraham Lincoln is shot at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth

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1912: The RMS Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks; between 1,400 to 1,600 passengers are lost

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1942: The Doolittle Raid bombs factories and military installations in Tokyo Japan

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1961: The Bay of Pigs invasion fails to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba

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1836: Texan forces under General Sam Houston defeat Santa Anna and the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto

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As times passes, more information about each of these events come forward through the hard work of historians, researchers, archivists, curators, and other history professionals. Anniversaries are a good way of getting research the public exposure as people are reminded of the events and individuals. For more upcoming anniversaries, see what publications are out there and what might be coming in the future. You never know what someone might find that could change your way of seeing history!

The good thing about history is that there is almost an incalculable amount of topics, subjects, etc. to choose from that fit your interests. Now here's the bad part; since there's so much to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to start or what you even want as your topic!

 

Are you an enthusiast for military history? What about gender studies? The history of medical technology? Women's history in Asia? The political history of South America? An important first step is looking at the broad subjects that interest you. Your personal preference is a big factor when you start research and if you decide later on that it's not a topic you want to pursue, it's easier to change early on rather than later. 

 

Once you pick a subject, you can begin narrowing down to a specific topic. From here, you can begin looking into what sources are readily available and start some preliminary work. It'll help getting your research momentum going if you start thinking about what direction you wish to pursue.

 

Now that you've got a specific topic in mind, it's time to investigate and learn what you can before you begin writing. If you know the material well, such as extensive reading, gathering sources, and seeing work by other authors, this will further shape what you want to research.

 

And now it's time to think about that big, daunting, Greek sounding word we feared as middle school students and even as high school freshman...THESIS. Keep in mind, a thesis is not ironclad.  This means they can change during the course of your research as you look through more sources that can either improve or challenge your thesis.

 

The final point here; how people start their research is subjective and inspiration varies from person to person. If you talk to a published researcher or author, they can tell you about their process and if it works for you, give it a shot. If not, you can embark on your own research path and find what'll make you a thorough researcher.

 

 

 

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