Tuesday, October 14, 2008
History Made Interesting
Why don't more people enjoy learning about history? Here's my theory: Because the people who write history books focus on the most boring parts. As a result, many of us leave school thinking history is just a list of kings, battles, and treaties. But if taught correctly, history is a fascinating soap opera--filled with villains, madmen, and femme fatales.
I just read about a wonderful organization that shares my views on this subject. The Clampers are a group devoted to introducing people to the "real" history of America. Over the years, they've traveled the countryside dressed in matching red shirts, erecting over 1,000 historical plaques. Their motto? “Credo Quia Absurdum,” which roughly translates as “believe because it is absurd.”
Unlike those put up by state authorities, the Clampers' historical plaques don't focus on "rich old men's history." Instead, they commemorate saber tooth tigers, upside-down houses, escaped convicts, and Moose Milk (don't ask).
I love this idea. Every city and town has a secret, fascinating history that few people know about. Unfortunately, the Clampers don't accept women in their organization. (Can you believe!) So I call upon those of us who are of the female persuasion to start our own secret society!
Read more about the Clampers--and explore an awesome interactive map--here.
(Marking the grave of an unknown gold prospector. Photo by Jim Wilson for the New York Times.)