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Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

This week I have been busy volunteering at the Association for American State and Local History Conference which just so happens to be here in St. Paul, MN, this year.  It has been a ridiculously cool experience and I am enjoying learning from all the speakers and presenters!

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I loved this quote from yesterday's keynote speaker, Garrison Keillor: 

"The discovery that unbeknownst to you amazing things were happening in your vicinity, and if you'd have known about them they'd have changed your life. This is history."

It is neat to see your stomping grounds from someone else's perspective.  Of course there is a lot to do, so I am going to keep this short and sweet!  If you are here,  be sure to say 'hi'!  

Tara Cajacob


Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Mid-Week Inspiration

Who doesn't need a little more inspiration in their life? I've found myself feeling a little spread thin lately with the busy, busyness of fall, running a company and preparing for a big launch -- so I can sure take it wherever I can get it!  

I wanted to share with you this quote that spoke to my soul:

"A noble purpose inspires sacrifice, stimulates innovation and encourages perseverance."  --Gary Hamel

This is what sharing and working in history means to me, it is my noble purpose and yes, it does all those things.  I won't go into it again, because I know I have shared many times before why my love for history runs so deep and why I hope everyone can some day find joy in it.  

What is your favorite quote?  Have you found inspiration somewhere unexpected this week? If so, share in the comments below!

 


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Labor History for Labor Day

Labor history is very a interesting and controversial aspect of history. Did we do it right? Are things the best they could be now? The answers are varied and indelibly rely upon a mix of politics and personal perspectives.

My opinion? Have things been worse? Yes. Could they get better? Of course.

The most interesting stories about labor history come from America's transition to industrialization beginning shortly after Reconstruction (from the Civil War). The truth is, while industrialization changes the parameters for what is possible in a society (like the ability to mass produce weapons that allowed our successes in the World Wars) or the ability to move raw material quickly to plants and factories across the country, the process of becoming industrialized isn't without its shortcomings.

The plight of the factory worker, a pioneer in a new industry in which profit is king, was a serious one. Perhaps the most clear challenge was to craftsmen and skilled tradesmen who had spent lifetimes honing their art. The advent of Taylorism, which broke large complex projects into individualized, repetitive tasks (think assembly line) made the skilled worker practically obsolete if not replaceable entirely by machines. The men who could find their livelihood on the factory floorfaced grueling work hours, unsafe conditions and low wages implemented with strict oversight emphasizing productivity above all else.  Perhaps the most resilient group of workers were the unskilled laborers, whose work was largely unaffected by these transitions.  These men performed physical labor often moving from job to job in order to seek better conditions and wages. In order to overcome the obstacles that had arisen due to industrialization, workers organized and formed unions which would unite them in pursuit of a common goal.  Successful strikes encouraged more union involvement and the establishment of new unions. 

Change is always a struggle, but the fruit of this difficult time can be seen by analyzing the face of labor today. Unions, government oversight including a minimum wage, even the technology we use, all got their start here with Industrialization.

This Labor Day, let's be thankful for change and for having the ability to forge our own way.

Source: Steven Diner, “A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era,” 1998, pp. 37-65.




Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Why We Love History (And You Should, Too!)

It seems like almost a daily occurrence in adult life- running into someone you knew a while ago, or meeting someone new- the first question that they ask is: “What do you do?”

 Of course, my answer is what you’d expect.  “I’m a historical research consultant.”  Usually this is where it gets uncomfortable. 

There is a pause, a scratching the back of the neck and then, “I HATED history class in high school.”  Then they realize what they said and get awkward.  “I mean, but… how interesting!  Good for you!”

Usually, I smile politely and nod.  But here is what I would like to tell them, and what I’d like to tell you:


I am not surprised you hated high school history.  High school has to adhere to standards and so it teaches basic events like they are equations – cause and effect.  Real people become heroes, so high up on a pedestal that they are unapproachable and unrelateable.  More emphasis is placed on memorizing dates than understanding why things unfolded the way they did. 

It’s such a shame.  I wish that your teachers would have been able to put aside all of these national standardize requirements and figure out what part of history would resonate with you and make you passionate.  The truth is I know there is a subject somewhere in there that would evoke passion. 

Sure, maybe you thought the text book’s description about the invention of the steam engine was dull, but what if you found out that the only reason the town you live in exists at all was because of the people who moved there to build the track for it?  What if you knew that your great grandfather rode the rails from city to city taking pictures of people who were living in squalor during the Great Depression?  Would that change how you thought about history?

          All that said, here are five of the many things I love about history:

  1. I love the feeling I get when I realize that people who lived 100 years before me, were really not all that different. 
  2.  I love the idea that one little thing could have changed everything about the world we live in today. 
  3. I love that history touches everyone.  History shows that we are all tied together into this incredible context of the human experience that spans geographic bounds and time. 
  4. At its heart, history tells us a story.  Who doesn't love a good story?
  5. I love that history allows me to understand innumerable topics, I will never run out of subjects to research or places I know little or nothing about.  Even the greatest history “expert” cannot know everything, I find that humbling and challenging and it makes me rise to the occasion.

So, you don’t have to get awkward when you tell me you hated history in high school.  It’s okay! You have every right not to love the things I love.  But I wish for you the joy and the passion of knowing and loving something as complex and universal as history.  


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Celebrate National Senior Citizens Day with a New Friend

I have been blessed to have had some amazing clients, but some of my favorite experiences in my life have been sitting down with people from generations before mine and talking about their experiences. 

It is amazing to learn how similar certain things are, how they transcend time: the smell of cookies baking in the oven; how pets can be a kids best friend; the freedom of the first days of summer.  But also how different they can be:  the trials of women in the workforce; traveling before airplanes;  how much safer big cities were. 

I never pass up the opportunity to chat with someone about their life experiences.  I once spoke to a woman who grew up alongside F. Scott Fitzgerald on Grand Avenue, who told me that if she could go back and change one thing about her life, she would play with her dog more often.  Moments like that warm your heart and make you realize that you aren’t so different from anyone who came before you, but also help you realize the kinds of things that will affect you most as time goes on. 

So, tomorrow is National Senior Citizens Day and I challenge you to go out and make a new friend.  Befriend someone who grew up in a different time than you, a time when things were different but people weren’t discover how much you have in common and what parts of life were different. 

What lessons have you learned from talking to an elder?  Share your stories in the comments!

Tara Cajacob


Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


3 Easy Ways to Find Your Motivation

I’ve been there so many times before: an endless cycle of getting a(nother) cup of coffee, staring at that blinking cursor and bashing my head against the desk.  Between working on client projects, columns, articles and working on my book, sometimes my writing juices just go dry.  On the darkest of those days (sometimes after a week of this infuriating routine) it can be hard to remember why I am doing this, or even to believe I can do it at all. 

The truth is, even though this is my dream come true, and I have been pretty successfully living that dream for 5 years now, I have these moments where I can’t find my motivation!  I think this goes a step beyond procrastination into the realm of fearful paralyzation. 

So how do I break through?  I go back and I read my very first blog posts.  I pull out the thank you note that my very first ever client wrote me.  I think about how nervous and excited I was, and how far I’ve come.  I remember that everything I have done in my business has been deliberate and intentional.  Every move I have made had a purpose. 

I have found that these moments are a result of losing sight of my sense of purpose, so I have come up with a little reminder that sits right at eye level from my workspace.

It says, “Because I want to inspire in others the same passion for history that drives me.”  It is nothing elaborate or overly lofty.  It just reminds me what gives me drive, what my mission and purpose is.  That motivates me.

No matter what you do every day, I bet you have a purpose in your life that motivates what you do, even if you lose sight of it sometimes.

  1.  If you are not sure what it is, go back through some of your memories, when did you feel inspired and excited last?  What happened?  Who was there? What were you doing? 
  2. If you can narrow this down, figure out what part of that situation would change what you are doing today and how you could apply it. 
  3. Finally, if you come up with the same answer more than once, write it down on a post-it or a note card and put it somewhere you will see it several times a day.  Make it your mantra and your purpose.

What do you do when you lose your motivation?  Have you figured out your biggest motivator? Share your answers in the comments!


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


FREE Printable Workbook to Preserve Your Memories

There is something truly magnificent about the human experience and the way events are synthesized with our senses.  It is for this reason that interviewers often use photographs when talking to their subjects, to help draw out memories that are long buried.  

If you have been wanting to work towards documenting your own personal history but haven't weren't sure where to start, this is may be the perfect place.  

This Photo Memories workbook uses easy prompts connected to photos to help evoke memories.   It has a week long program to get you started in memory journaling using photographic prompts.  

Whether you are struggling with writers block in unlocking your own story, or you want to use this book to help start a dialog with someone you love like an elderly parent or  grandparent, this book will give you the foundation to use photographs as a tool to document your own personal history. 

 

 

The best part?  It is totally 100% free to subscribers of our e-mail list.  In fact, that's the only way to get it! 

If you haven't already subscribed  do it now and get your copy instantly!

Already have your copy? Has it been any help? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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