What is History?


What is history? Google.com defines it as “the study of past events, particularly in human affairs”. While that may be the dictionary definition, I would define history as a description or timeline of significant events that made a lasting impression. You may be wondering, “events that made a lasting impression on who?” that is up to you to decide.Who decides what is and is not worthy of being deemed “historic”? Is there one person who sits in a room and stamps files with “History”, “Not History”, a group of people? I feel that everyone has a say in what is or is not history to him or her. We may have certain events that we all consider historic. Something extremely significant to one person may not matter to another. In high school, you take 4 years of history, and you are told what is and is not historic, but what if you don’t agree? History is whatever you want it to be. To me, history is I being the only person in my family to pursue a degree in computer science, the music in my phone is history to me, the fact that I am apart of the 1.88% of black students at UC Irvine is history to me.

To me, my header image is history. It is an iconic image from a Black Lives Matter protest that went viral. It shows a man throwing a smoke bomb back at the police. I chose this

Photo by Robert Cohen, taken from stltoday.com
Photo by Robert Cohen, taken from stltoday.com

image because it shows a form of war. Some may think of war as men and women in uniform, marching to a beat with guns drawn and this picture shows a different kind of war. A war between a government and its people. The picture shows a turning point in American history, a time when people decided that enough is enough they would no longer stand by silently or have their peaceful protests ignored. To me, this is one of the most historic things to happen in recent years and I think it is something that should be talked about for years to come, but others may think differently. Someone else also thought the event depicted in the image and those that ensued are historic, so historic that they made it into a history book, to some people the story behind my header image may be insignificant and they may even think that it should be forgotten. So again I ask, who decides what is and is not worthy of being deemed “historic”?

The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus, is a great example of a regular guy giving his version of what is historic in his opinion. The book follows Simplicius as he navigates his version of the Thirty Years’ War. Simplicius is a regular guy, he struggles to hold in his farts, he is hungry all the time, he has his own opinion and these things shape what he considers historic.

I believe that people decide what is and is not historic because of the saying, “the winner writes history”. This means that whoever wins the war gets to decide which battles to include in the history books. It is true, the winner and loser have different versions of events but people are only really interested in the winner’s version of events. I would describe every Apple Inc. announcement as historic, but no one really loses when Apple announces a new product, so who’s the winner? Who writes the story in this case?

I encourage my readers to comment below answering the questions what is history and who decides what is and is not worthy of being deemed “historic”?


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