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Site last updated
26 June, 2013

History

Napoleon is supposed to have said that "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon". History is fluid and ever-changing, as the interpreters change in background, circumstance and understanding. My approach to studying any given event or period in history (one of my favourite subjects) is to first learn the when, where, and who of it - those dry bones that make the palaeontologists of social science so excited. Then I seek to read the accounts of contemporaries, and then various versions that follow through the years. With each reading, I attempt to take into account the numerous pressures of each interpreter's background; conceptions and misconceptions, mores and values, hopes and fears. I look to the arts for expressions of the will and whim of the populace that (it will out) force the hand of governments, to the sciences for the impetus that allows progress and advance (in cruelty as well as humanity), and to literature for expressions of content and discontent. I then make an effort to sort out all those influences on myself, and the result is a very personal understanding of History - not at all the same understanding that you will have, or that any one else will have, but one that satisfies my curiosity and desire to place here-and-now into some sort of context.

The history section of HumanitiesWeb was created to allow readers to study history that same way - the dates and places are all here, but they are linked and cross-referenced with the arts, literature, philosophy and religion. Biographies allow personal glimpses at those who directed the course of humankind (whether they be statesmen or slaves, philosophers or tinkerers); and old and new texts, supported by primary documents provide the background necessary for understanding (which is a whole different kettle of fish than knowledge).

This main history page allows you to approach the science by country (I've begun with the United States because my background there is greatest). Each country is divided by period or era, and includes timelines of events of political significance. Supporting documents are included (the text of treaties, bills and laws etc), detailed timelines of conflicts, and texts with various viewpoints of the era from times past. In the left menu, there is a link to the main Timelines search, which allows you to look at any period of time and get a main overview of events (political, religious, scientific, or in the arts). There is also a (small but growing) dictionary which gives short descriptions of various events, terms and institutions. As I continue to add to the site, you will find detailed biographies and the text of speeches, documents etc.

I sincerely hope that you find this effort helpful, and certainly am open to suggestions and offers to increase the scope and breadth of the project. If you'd like to contact me, please use the feedback link.
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