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You Could Become an Amateur Historian . . . and Get a Promotion

Gary North
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March 7, 2011

The division of intellectual labor has been expanded by the Internet more than ever in the past. This is just getting started. You could make a significant contribution. All it takes is time and practice.

The Web makes possible the exploration of history on a scale undreamed of in 1994. Millions of people who cannot afford the plane fare and lodging expenses to access collections of materials can gain access to them at home.

The cost of doing serious, significant historical research has fallen. There will therefore be a growing supply.

You could be part of that supply.

You have to start somewhere. Start with something easy and non-controversial. Then branch out.

In every community, there are local records that no one ever sees. There are county historical societies. Hardly anyone knows about them. The people who are local experts are usually old. They are not skilled at Web publishing.

You could take a once-famous event, such as a local disaster.

You could start with an interesting period, such as World War II. In some regions, you could start with the Civil War. How did these events affect life in your county? Can you locate diaries and letters? Can you get permission to scan them and post them?

If I were a high school history teacher, I would encourage brighter students to get involved. I would create a site where their findings could be posted, signed. My legacy to the community would be a permanent site on local history.

Or maybe you belong to a local civic organization. Is there a history of the local branch? If not, why not create a site devoted to this?

You may think: "Who cares?" Maybe no one. Yet. But you can get the skills it takes for serious historical research by doing a project that is not controversial.

You may want to gain influence in your organization. People in high positions will give you time if you have begun to create an on-line history of the organization. If someone is the head of an organization, he wants recognition. Having his name and accomplishments on-line is something he would like. So, he wants to have such a site on-line.

What about your company? Is there an official history? Probably not. If there is, it's probably not on-line.

Want to get to know the president or the CEO? Write a history of the organization. Post it piece by piece, beginning at the beginning. At some point in the project, you will have a reason to interview the senior executives. Work for a year or two on the project on your own time. Post what you find: old ads, old newspaper clippings.

Create a timeline. Interview retired workers. Page by page, build the site. At some point, word will get out about the site.

Do it on your own time. Control the Website. This site will be a career-enhancing tool.

Maybe you want a job at a better company. Do the same thing. Build a site on that firm's history. When you get in to talk with the president, or the regional division manager, at some point, you can mention your interest in working for the company. It's better to talk with the top person about this than with the guy in the personnel department who no one pays much attention to.

Most people want recognition. Most people want to be remembered. Hardly anyone is ever remembered. The Web makes this possible as never before in man's history. Use this opportunity to achieve your own goals.

When you get the hang of this, go on to a more significant topic. Go to something more controversial. I don't mean "Who shot JFK?" The field is glutted, even at zero price. But you could create a site on some obscure aspect of the Warren Commission report or even the Commission itself. Develop this in detail. Create the "go-to" site on this niche.

I was brought into the conservative movement by a lady who was part of a network of dedicated researchers in southern California. She clipped the Congressional Record. She subscribed to The Freeman. She was one of the little old ladies in tennis shoes, although she was not old and did not wear tennis shoes. She introduced me to this underground world of skeptics regarding the intentions of politicians. That world has grown.

Today, Facebook has created a network of networks. People in these networks could divide up a research project and build a solid core of research. Each participant has a blog. Use www.WordPress.com. It's free.

Document by document, PDF by PDF, people with a shared vision or cause can cooperate on a research project to find out what really happened.

Then individually they can answer this question: Why did it happen?

Once you get the skills, you can get your own domain address, download the free site software at WordPress.org, download a free theme like Atahualpa or Thematic, and create your own site on any topic. You can get a hosting service like www.DowntownHost.com that lets you put up an unlimited number of sites at no extra charge.

I would like to see lots of sites on what could not possibly have happened. No grand theory -- just the systematic blocking off of rabbit trails. We need a 9-11 site like this, or any number of assassination sites.

There are some big topics out there. I have listed a few:

http://www.garynorth.com/public/department104.cfm

Take one niche in one of these topics. Work on it. But do a small-scale local project first.

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