history observations pragmatic historian purpose of history using history

Let’s Not Wait for History to Make Judgements

Throughout the four years of the Trump regime, as report after report came out about corrupt, unethical, possibly illegal, democratic-norm-breaking behavior, joined by an incessant number of lies, conspiracy theories, threats, and nasty comments, there has been a common refrain on Twitter. “History will not judge these individuals well.” As though merely pointing out how future people will look back on this time, shake their finger, and say, “Tsk, tsk,” and individuals currently engaging in…

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history history relevance practical history pragmatic historian using history

Doug Birk – A Pragmatic Historian of the Highest Order

This past Friday I had the opportunity to attend the Council for Minnesota Archaeology’s annual conference at St. Cloud State University. A large portion of the conference was dedicated to celebrating the life of famed Minnesota archaeologist Doug Birk. I say “famed” not because Doug would have liked that term … he would have hated it … but because of the awe and regard in which so many of his colleagues, friends, and acquaintances held…

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history history relevance practical history pragmatic historian using history

Challenge – What Would You Have Done as Hitler Rose to Power?

This is a post I’ve been waiting to write for a couple of weeks, ever since I saw Amy Siskind’s smack-in-the-face tweet: When I was studying the Holocaust as part of a World War I & II class in high school, this is exactly the thought that kept going through my mind. What would I have done? Would I have gone along with the Third Reich’s activities and had to live with my cowardice and…

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history history relevance practical history pragmatic historian using history

Why Be a Pragmatic Historian?

When discussing any topic, it’s useful to start with definitions so that everyone involved is on the same page. I sincerely believe this is one of the reasons for the political polarization we see in the United States today, a lack of common, agreed-upon definitions. Instead, terms like “family values” or “immigration” are tossed around and people nod or shake their heads at whoever is using the term, depending upon the definition they are operating…

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