History is always described in a manner that is straightforward. When it comes to teaching students about historical events, there is not much time to get into all the details that surround every event that has occurred in our timeline. However, there is a silver lining to this dilemma that can help readers and students learn more about the history they read.
In recent decades, historians have expanded their view on the historiography of a variety of different subjects by researching more about women’s contributions or the effect of environmental stressors that triggered a negative reaction from a local population. While it may seem difficult to find sources that discuss these topics, this has not prevented historians from learning about history through these viewpoints.
Women’s history has always existed, but not in the manner that we think of today. Usually, a woman’s history is shrouded by an event or institute that is presumed to be more important than the individual itself. If you were to read about Catherine II the Great’s diary, you would know more about her personal life, but if you were to read about her in a history textbook, you would find that the textbook focuses more on the political and social interactions between Europe’s most powerful empires. Historians never play favorites when writing history, but they are tasked with presenting a clear message to the reader about how an event came to be and what was the end result. One thing to keep in mind is the fact the individual’s own experience contributes to a greater understanding of human society in early centuries. By learning more about individuals and their experiences, historians can create a more informative history for students and readers to learn.
While human figures in history are always debated on whether they were good or bad people, environmental history has its own take on human experience. For example, when historians discuss how western societies developed, one of the most important splits that is discussed is the development of theological and secular ideals in ancient societies such as Greece, Mesopotamia, Persia, or Rome. Theological ideas are thought to have been embedded in the Middle East as the shortage of resources led to people to develop a system of worship in hopes that conditions would improve through the intervention of a divine being. On the other hand, ancient Athens was filled with philosophers that developed their beliefs on a system that focused on the well-being of humanity, not gods nor kings alike. The fact that a shortage or abundance of resources can define a society’s goals, beliefs, and culture should not be overlooked by readers or historians too.
As new histories are written, new observations and discoveries lead to new ideas and arguments about how we learn about the past and can expect in the future.