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The Best Videos for History Buffs

Comments Off on The Best Videos for History Buffs 14 November 2013

History Videos

This is part TWO of a weekly series where we help you figure out what to study in college by sharing awesome YouTube videos. Read part one here. 

So last week I guided you, intrepid reader, through a fantasyland of actually interesting and awesome science videos. And future scientists and engineers rejoiced, and there was great celebration.

This week, I call upon anyone who has sat through a history lecture and thought, “hey, this is awesome!” Because you know what? History is awesome. A successful historian understands the past in a way that allows them to shape the future. The study of history is equal parts logic and creativity.

So let’s take some time and explore some great YouTube channels and videos that are reinventing how we think about and engage with history. And maybe after checking them out, you’ll consider getting a degree in the subject.

CHANNEL: CrashCourse

The Crash Course channel is hosted by John and Hank Green and John is in charge of their History courses. His videos take on a subject like “was the New Deal a good thing or a terrible thing?”, starts with the facts, and then takes his audience through the effects that event had. And even more importantly, he explains how historians have categorize the history of an event in order to get at new knowledge. John is clearly a genius and very fast talker, but his videos offer great visuals and graphics that help you follow along. His videos usually run about 10 minutes long, and he packs about as much information in that time as a traditional hour-long lecture.

He divides his videos into two categories (or courses), US History and World History. The videos are chronological, so you can start with US History video #1 and work your way through the series (and the history of the country).

These videos explore the history of World War I and America’s involvement, and are a good place to get started because WWI is pretty interesting! And John makes sure to include many different threads in his analysis of the war, including its effect on the US government, culture, industry, and globalization.

CHANNEL: HistoryTeachers

Are you familiar with the comedic styling of Weird Al? Of course you are. The HistoryTeachers channel is what happens when a lady who can’t sing but loves Weird Al meets a history lecture. The videos are… well, you really just have to see one for yourself. Let’s get started with The French Revolution explained to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance:

Yeah, watching this nice lady dance and sing is embarrassing. But also pretty genius. I mean… Coup Coup Coup D’etat. This is weird, awkward, catchy stuff. If you ever need to brush up on a basic subject like the life of Henry VIII (set to an ABBA song) then this is the place for you. (You get to see Henry’s dead wives sing! Poorly!)

Yep

What is happening?

I can’t tell if the bad singing helps take these videos to the next level or not, but I’ve been watching them for about 20 minutes so… I think it does. 

CHANNEL: Biography

While the History channel is usually the first you’d think of, it’s far from the best place to learn about history. The Biography Channel’s YouTube page is full of awesome mini-biographies of different famous folks from the past. Some of the best are a complete collection of 2-3 minute bios on US Presidents. They are concise, informative, and when watched in order, give you a bigger picture of the progression of American politics and values.

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