New Disciplines

Reconstructed Fortress Michilimackinac. Photo by the Author

Since history is essentially the study of everything involving human beings, the thorough historian must be willing to consider the contributions of nearly everything, including other disciplines, to the field. The recent fields of history, such as environmental history and sports history, for example, bring to light two oft-overlooked aspects of life that impact everyone on this earth: geographical environment and entertainment.

For instance, historians David Preston and Hurst discuss Importation of textiles and design of uniforms during the Seven Years War in America1. The relatively hot and thickly-wooded environment of Eastern North America gave rise to a massive demand for lighter-weight fabrics and garments cut in indigenous styles, thereby critically effecting the success of empire-shattering campaigns and helping to shape the Thirteen Colonies’ cultural and economic outlook in the years surrounding the American Revolution2.

Likewise, the 1763 raid on Fortress Michilimackinac in modern-day Michigan provides an example of how sports played a role in history. Ojibwa attackers used a game of Lacrosse to lure British soldiers out of the fort so that they could capture the post while the doors were open. This instance may seem like nothing more than a clever ruse, but it serves to show that folks living at a British outpost were wiling to let off their guard for the sake of entertainment. Likely, this is because social activities like sporting events are often considered an innocent way that different people can fellowship with each other.3

However, as mentioned in the previous post, becoming too focused on one “field” of history is extremely dangerous in a field that attempts to understand the vast swath of human undertakings that define the world around us.

1 Neal Hurst, “For the Heat Is beyond Your Conception:” Men’s Summer Dress in the American South During the Long Eighteenth-Century,” University of Delaware: 2005. Accessed October 28, 2019.

2 David L. Preston, “‘Make Indians of Our White Men’: British Soldiers and Indian Warriors from Braddock’s to Forbes’s Campaigns, 1755-1758.,” Pennsylvania History 74, no. 3 (June 1, 2007): 280–307.

3 Fred Anderson, “The War That Made America : A Short History of the French and Indian War.” New York: Viking, 2005.