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Your Story Is An Important Piece of Contemporary History

Jun 23 2023

Contemporary History's Importance

History Chip is all about contemporary history - that period that can be recounted by the oldest to the youngest among us. Contemporary history is what we have experienced and can recount and what we have the urgency to document while we are alive and so that it is told by us and not by those in ivory towers who can only extrapolate from bits and pieces of documentation, which is how history has been written for millennia. Our era of contemporary history is like no other and that is because of the internet. We can crowd source history. We can write history from the perspectives of all people - not just the elites, the educated, the rich and powerful. Before the internet, it was simply not possible to aggregate the stories of people anywhere in the world - to develop a peoples’ history. The internet has provided us with lots of platforms where individuals anywhere - in Nigeria, Antarctica, Mongolia, Costa Rica, anywhere in the world, can share their cat videos, pictures of their lunches, images from war zones or their opinions on global warming. This is amazing. Entire populations that were relatively unknown, are now in the internet mainstream. And, History Chip is right there in the thick of things to document history, to provide a place where voices and experiences - the truth of peoples all over the world matter. History Chip is here for anyone to participate in the documentation and writing of contemporary history.

Think about that for a moment and what that might mean for your community. Why does this matter to you? Let’s take a recent change in the way we understand history. Up until 2021, Juneteenth wasn’t a holiday in America and I would guess that at least half of Americans had no idea what Juneteenth was. It didn’t exist in their minds. Turns out that Juneteenth - June 19, 1865, was the very last day that slavery was legally sanctioned in Texas, the last hold out of slavery in America. 250,000 people were liberated that day. Juneteenth is Independence Day for African Americans and a day that the rest of the country can applaud America’s ongoing efforts to be a more democratic union. But, Juneteenth was just lost in history. We didn’t even know about it. It was like a big hole in the middle of history. There is so much that happens that has just never made it into our history books, and History Chip is here to give you a place to tell your stories so that you can be a part of history.

I live in a little town. Life in this town, like life in so many small towns, is not included in history books. Life here is ‘ordinary’. There are farmers, tradespeople, a few doctors and lawyers, librarians, teachers, moms, dads and lots of cows. But, the days of all of these ordinary lives are what life is about. It’s about the stories of getting up at 4 to milk the cows, or getting to school or work on time, getting homework done and getting kids to baseball practice. It’s about the economy, healthcare, and when the next storm is going to hit. And, the ordinary life in my small town is different from ordinary life in Ushuaia, Argentina or Asembo, Kenya or Turku, Finland. The history of ‘ordinary’ life is not a one size fits all story. History Chip provides a place to tell the stories of what life is like for all of us so that our needs, our struggles, our very existence counts for something. The lives of ordinary people is truly what is happening, truly what is history and truly is what is usually ignored. But understanding that life for ordinary people in the Sudan or Kyiv or North Korea is crumbling, alerts us to global needs, to potential immigration crises or inspires us to ways that the rest of the world can cope with disasters or to looming climate change or changes in artistic trends. Understanding the history of contemporary and ordinary life around the world makes the world smaller and offers us pathways to understand each other’s circumstances and fear each other less.

The history of contemporary life is the story of COVID, The Ukraine, World War II, Hip Hop and Jazz. Think about how COVID spread in 2019 and how it changed life for everyone and how we learned from other countries and how they coped as the virus spread. Think about life on the ground in The Ukraine and imagine how you would cope with the stressors of war. Think about how people all over the world lived during World War II. It wasn’t just the soldiers whose lives were turned upside down. People all over the world struggled in so many different ways. Think about Hip Hop and Jazz growing out of the creative juices of ordinary people, and other ordinary people embracing it and spreading it around the world. This is contemporary history. This is what life is about and each of us has a place in it. Farmers, dancers, soldiers, doctors, teachers - all of our voices and stories together bring history into focus. YOUR stories matter!