Aaron Allen: History & Archives

*Post written by Aaron Allen, student assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Aaron Allen - WWII Jacket and Army Hat (Dr. Marlene Shaw's Father)

The following blog was written by student assistant, Aaron Allen

All too often, history is an overlooked field in secondary and post-secondary education.  A student cannot graduate from the University of Southern Indiana without completing at least introduction level courses in math and English; however, it is possible to complete a four year degree without taking a single history course.  This standard implies that history is not important enough to be required in the core curriculum. Through my own history courses and my time as a student worker in the archives, I have learned this is not the case.  Understanding history is important regardless of your field.  Scientists and mathematicians have to understand the history of their field of study so that they make advances in the present. Even historians need an understanding of the first individuals who started to record history.

Unlike the past, historians now understand the importance of preserving historical artifacts.  Archives, like the one here at USI, are just one way to ensure the preservation of history.  As a student worker, I get to work with these artifacts every day.  Whether it is our numerous pictures of Evansville and the surrounding area or something much older working with history is as rewarding as it is important.

History is applicable in your own life in numerous ways.  In many subjects, students want to know when they will use the material they are learning in their own life.  It is difficult to go through a single day without using some sort of math or reading; however, the question must be asked, “When do I use history in my own life?” Take for example the upcoming presidential election: government and politics is a huge aspect of history everywhere in the world.  Regardless of your political stance, understanding history can help us pick the candidate we think will help this country the most.  We can answer questions such as, “How did policies such as the one this candidate is proposing work in the past?”  It seems that politicians will bring up our nation’s history in some instances.  Comprehending United States history ourselves can help us make sure what the politicians say is accurate.

On a smaller scale, history can help us understand our local area and surroundings.  Evansville has a rich history, which I learn more every day.  My own home town has house that was once station for the famous Underground Railroad.  Knowing facts like these are more than interesting conversation topics. They are significant pieces of history.

It may not be required in your core curriculum but you should make an effort to take a history course. Just as we use reading and math skills every day, you can use a better understanding of history on a regular basis.  My time as a student worker in the archives at USI has helped me see the importance of preserving history and understanding it. My courses in history only serve to reinforce this understanding.  History continues to help me in my own life.  It can benefit and prepare anyone else in the same way.

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