Whether you’re a student scrambling to prepare for an upcoming history test, someone planning to visit America soon, or an American who wants to learn more about their country, there are countless options to educate yourself on America and its history.
Textbooks are the traditional method, but they leave out a lot of information, opinions, and perspectives necessary for truly understanding America’s story. Here are four ways to learn more about American history.
Want to learn all there is to learn about a certain event or topic? There’s a museum for just about anything.
Want to learn about the history of canned pork? Stop on by the SPAM® Museum in Austin, Minnesota. What about super-old medical remedies? The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum will tell you all you need to know about questionable voodoo potions and blood-sucking leeches.
Take a trip down to the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, for a comprehensive overview of American history. You can learn more about specific events that shaped America’s history by visiting museums such as the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, or the Civil War Museum in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Most museums have admission fee-free days where you can get in without spending money. So don’t worry—even if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can still explore these incredible historical institutions.
Travel the Country
Another way to learn more about American history is to travel the country. There are thousands of historical sites and monuments across the country that can help you develop a better understanding and appreciation for America’s history.
Of course, not everyone can drop their responsibilities to take an impromptu cross-country roundtrip. Luckily, there are plenty of places to visit to learn about American history. If you can’t tour the country, visit a historical site or monument in your home state.
Explore Different Perspectives
“History is always written by the winners.” This quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill, is something you may have heard before. What does it mean?
The voices of individuals on the losing side of wars and minorities often don’t make it into textbooks. And without these voices, it’s difficult to paint an accurate picture of America’s history.
When studying particular events and eras in America’s history, ensure your sources cover a wide range of perspectives and opinions so you can learn about how said events and eras impacted different communities.
Textbooks are a good starting point. But if you want to expand your knowledge beyond what textbooks can teach, thousands of other books can also teach you about American history.
For a more inclusive look at American history, check out books such as A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross.