Friday, August 19, 2011

History Warm-Up Exercises

With term time fast approaching, it's time to start stretching your back-to-school mind muscles.  Develop your flexibility by checking out these links to historical subjects across time periods and geographical places.

A fantastic blog that was recommended by John Porter is The History Blog.  The blog keeps its beady eye on historical tidbits in the news so you don't have to.  It also occasionally posts real estate ads for choice bits of historical property.  The entry for August 18 is for a Swedish house c. 1750, complete with preserved skeleton in the basement.  How's that for living history?

For uncomfortable living history, you should take a look at the Wellcome Collection's Incurably Curious, which has photos and articles on subjects from anatomy lectures to hand x-rays, with foot-binding and peep shows along the way.

If you didn't manage to do as much travelling this summer as you would have liked, never fear -- I have rounded-up some beautiful photos for your armchair travels.  You can see a comparison of Scotland's landscape then and now: Scotland's Ever-changing Scenery.  Then take a look at John C.H. Grabill's late nineteenth-century photos from the American West: Frontier Life in the West.  Or what about a collection of photos to highlight how London has reinvented itself over the years: Vintage London: Taking in the Smoke?  And for those of you who like the raw edge of history, with a smattering of disease, grime and crime there is Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life and Eerily Beautiful Mug Shots from 1920s Australia.

If you did take a holiday and have lots of photos or have been collecting your own set of historical photos that you want to share, you should check out Historypin.  You can also view the existing collections of historical photos already there, which includes subjects as diverse as "The Facial Hair through Time Collection", "The Street Party Collection" or "Animal in Unusual Places".  There are more serious historical ones, too, such as "The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake".

Now that you've had your fill of photographs, what about a couple history games? The McCord Museum has a fun game about gender and social roles in The Victorian Period.  I'm pleased to report that my many years working as a historical interpreter at Rutherford House at Fort Edmonton Park paid off!  The McCord also has quizzes and other games.  A game at which I was somewhat less successful is High Tea from the Wellcome Collection, which deals with the tea and opium trade of the nineteenth-century.  I'll beat it yet.

Happy time stretching!  If you come across any other fun or useful history links in the course of your exercises, please let me know.