Why is it so vital for us to understand our history? History isn’t a blueprint for the future, but it is a means to understanding the past and present. Through historical content, we get a sense of our identity. It’s the people and events from the past that make us what we are today. History allows us to vicariously live in a different time, connect to another place. And maybe step into the past and learn something about where we came from.
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Why do we enjoy seeing images from the past? Looking at our history helps us navigate our daily lives more easily. it improves our ability to understand the reason behind things. Sometimes things make more sense when you look backwards. Reflecting on how things were done encourages us to learn and take charge of our future.
In advertising and marketing, brands often use archival images to connect with their audience over a moment that collectively feels so pivotal. This moment can sum up a feeling or philosophy as to why they do things. Or the historical image could help communicate how far we have advanced as a society. Sharing a familiar photo, one we all recognize as being a part of our history, has the power of communicating so much to your audience. Whether it be an inspirational moment, a funny moment, or a sad one – archival images help create an emotional connection.
Shared experiences shape our identity. Generations after generations can point to specific events that impacted their core believes as a whole, from Martin Luther King Jr’s speech to the Berlin Wall coming down to Pearl Harbor. Some of these moments bring us joy, and some of these moments are devastating. Either way, the people involved, the thing that is happening – these are the moments we remember because their impact changes us.
Many of these moments are easy to name: the assassinations, the invasions, the elections. Yet, many more are subtle, and their impact is visible only in hindsight. These moments create a chronology of our evolving world and can pinpoint a moment of real transformation.
Can you identify a single event so crucial that it helps us now understand an entire decade? Defining moments in history are about identifying the arcs and significance of our times, the things that connect to our very core. For example, one event can catalyst a youth-oriented counterculture pushing back against old ideas, while another event can act as a bridge, uniting and contributing to rebuilding relationships.
Knowing our history increases our cultural awareness and moral understanding of the world we live in. The who, what, why, and where helps us better see how we got to where we are today. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeating it.” Philosopher George Santayana. The knowledge of our past historical events and trends helps us learn important lessons from the past, preventing us from making the same mistakes from happening again.