Several readers of this blog have complained that I forget to include dates in my blog posts. It’s a fair cop.
It’s not that I don’t know historical dates. (Okay, sometimes I don’t know the exact date, but I know where to look it up.)
I even agree that dates are valuable, taken in small doses. (But don’t get me started on the over-reliance on memorizing dates in high school history classes. It’s called hi-STORY, not chronology.)
I just don’t think about dates much. Like many historians I know, I tend to think about events, people, and ideas in context instead of pegged to a date. Ask me about the War of 1812 and I want to talk about troubles on the western frontier, the Napoleonic Wars, and differing ideas of citizenship, not the fact that it happened in–oh, bad example.
Whether you realize it or not, you do the same thing. My Own True Love, complaining about the absence of a date for Robert Peel and the London bobbies in a recent post, summed the concept up: “If you tell me he’s a Roman emperor, I know he lived in ancient Rome. I don’t have any idea when this Peel guy lived.”
The problem is, your context and mine are probably not the same.
Therefore, I do solemnly swear that I hereafter will try to remember to include dates (or at least a general historical framework) in my blog posts.
For the record, here are some of the dates that were missing in previous posts: 1915, 1095, 1829.