Researching History: What we can get from it.

Hello people of the internet!

My name’s Jacob and I’m very excited to be typing what is my very first blog post, which is quite surprising given me being alive in the technologically advanced age with the internet! Just as I get used to  gadgets and programs that have an ‘i’ as a prefix, something newer seems to come along. It’s ironic that my research focuses on the less technologically advanced, but equally complex and exciting period of 20th century Europe!

Instead of writing  odd whimsical descriptions of events which only History majors or those particularly enthused with the subject would get, I thought I’d take the opportunity  in these posts to tell you about my way of researching history, or at least explain why studying it can be both fun and rewarding. This blog post will serve as an introduction.

My honors fellowship is part of my honors project, which I’m tentatively titled, “Mining Memory: Relief Efforts to the 1906 Courriéres Mine Disaster”. Why am I interested in 20th century French coal mines? Well, both of my grandfathers were coal miners. So, I have some personal interest in the subject. And, this event was the largest mining disaster EVER to occur in Europe. So, it’s pretty significant. What can disaster relief tell us? Short answer: a lot. It can give us an early look at how morality was related to work. It can provide a case study in media and sensationalism (hint: 24-hour news networks aren’t as new as you may think). It can show how a popular awareness of health and safety affected the way businesses were expected to operate. It can explain how hard or easy it was to be a worker or a citizen. It can even get us into that age old debate of whether human beings are, or at least should be, entirely egoistic. Most importantly, it can add to our understanding of how people thought of themselves in the world, how they made sense of their place in it, and how they acted on those perceptions of their experiences. It’s historical, and its relevant. I hope you enjoy reading and find some value in it!