40 Of The Best History Memes For Anyone Wanting To Learn More About Our Past (New Pics)
American author and filmmaker Michael Crichton once said: "If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree." So let's take a look back at what events and people have 'planted' and 'grown' this tree we're all a part of called the present, shall we?
But since it's Friday, I think we can agree that something more refreshing than a textbook is needed. Luckily, we have just the thing. Two, actually.
From making fun of the British Museum's never-ending thirst for artifacts to corrupt Presidents, continue scrolling, check them out, and upvote your favorites!
A True Hero
Willem Arondeus was a moderately successful painter and writer living in the Netherlands. However, at the time his career began to improve, the Nazis had occupied his nation, and he decided to sacrifice personal success and wealth for the greater good, joining the Dutch resistance. Arondeus's skill as an artist allowed him to make fake ID cards, allowing Jewish refugees to hide more easily. However, the Nazi's Municipal Office for Population Registration made this far more difficult, as they kept exact records. With his resistance team, Arondeus devised a plan to bomb the office, which went off successfully. By doing so, they were able to steal a number of blank ID cards, and destroy enough records that any Jewish refugees could believably pretend to have had their files destroyed.
However, Arondeus was betrayed and captured. He refused to give information on his co-conspirators under torture, but after his home was raided, they found evidence that linked him to his allies. Arondeus then took full credit for the entire plan, allowing two of his friends to escape execution. His last words were "Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards".
Contrary to what some might think, memes aren't just for the internet. Historian, college administrator, amateur homesteader, and writer Joshua Wilkey, for example, quite often uses them in teaching. "I even sometimes assign my students to use memes as a way to present what they are learning in the classroom," he told Bored Panda.
They've been around in some form or another for thousands of years, too.
In 2016, archeologists uncovered a mosaic from the 3rd century B.C. in what was the ancient city of Antiocheia. The piece has three frames and seems to depict a bathing scene. The first frame is of a servant preparing a bath; the second frame, a young man running away from taking the bath, being pursued by an older servant who is unable to catch him; the last scene, a “reckless” but seemingly happy skeleton of the young man is sitting casually with a jug of wine.
The inscription below him reads: "Be cheerful and live your life." So you could say it's the original YOLO.
But why bother with history in the first place? Well, Joshua Wilkey said that "as an academic pursuit, history teaches important skills like critical reading and analysis. For the average person, though, history is an important way of understanding the context of what is happening in the present."
"I do not buy the argument that history repeats itself - and I think few professional historians would say that it does. It does, though, as Mark Twain once said, rhyme a lot. When one looks at the world as it is today, one cannot fully understand it absent knowledge of history," Wilkey explained. "One cannot, for example, understand the Black Lives Matter movement without understanding the long history of civil rights activism in the United States. One cannot understand what is happening in Afghanistan without understanding the long history of that particular part of the world, specifically through the lens of imperialism. Current events do not happen in a vacuum. Trying to understand or react to them absent an understanding of the history is detrimental at best."
Hah Get It
Elvis' Chance Of Getting Polio Has Left The Building; Thank You And Good Night!
Of course, that doesn't mean that you have to be familiar with every period of every civilization. "One of my favorite TV shows growing up was The Andy Griffith Show, and in one episode, Aunt Bee remarked that history must be harder to learn in the present because there's more and more of it being made every day," Wilkey recalled. "However, there are some good strategies to employ to learn the depth of history in a way that is useful for the present."
"Rather than broad surveys of history, whereby one attempts to learn the entire breadth of history for a given place, I think deeper dives are more useful. I prefer to study history topically rather than by place. For example, one can study the history of conflict, the history of racial inequality, the history of capitalism, or the history of imperialism, and follow the threads of those themes through both time and place, for a more comprehensive look at why things are the way they are."
The historian said that understanding how themes like economic inequality or political power have played out at multiple times and places is more useful for the average human than to learn facts about the history of a given place. "Ultimately, the goal should not be to learn history for the sake of being good at Jeopardy!, but for the sake of developing a more meaningful understanding of why things happened," Wilkey explained, adding that it's much more valuable than simply knowing what happened.
And it makes sense. You start making connections and developing ideas rather than just working on your memory. You start thinking.
I Am Confusion
Once you decide on a topic you want to dig into, you need to start collecting sources. "At the risk of having my professional historian card revoked, Wikipedia is a great place to go to learn the basics of a given event," Joshua Wilkey said. "At this point, it's rather more accurate than most easily accessible sources, including most online encyclopedias."
"Apart from that, I am a big fan of podcasts. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is great for those who can devote substantial time to listening. Slow Burn is also fantastic, as is the podcast that accompanies the 1619 Project. This Land is wonderful for those who are interested in indigenous history. I could go on for days with podcast recommendations, but there are so many good ones out there, the possibilities are limitless. For print readers, ProPublica also has a wonderful deep dive into many important topics. I especially enjoyed their piece a few years ago titled 'Firestone and the Warlord' about the history of the rubber industry in Africa."
There Goes Buck Franklin, The Impeccably Well Dressed Lawyer Who Practices Law Out Of A Tent
This Happened To My Grandfather When He Was Teaching Second Grade. The Kids Were So Traumatized By What They Saw A Lot Of Parents Had To Come Pick Them Up From School
As for sourcing accurate materials, Wilkey said it's important to employ information literacy skills to vet any potential source.
"While there's much to be said about the elitist and often-problematic nature of academic gatekeeping, the solution is not for anyone to publish anything they want, but rather, for us to engage with the public as much or more than we engage with each other as academics."
The historian likes to tell his students that if they are not engaging members of the general public with their work, then the public will be engaged by idiots, liars, and fear-mongers. "The average reader should make it a point to ask why they should believe any given source (including academic literature!). The fact that they found it via social media is often an argument against believing it," he said.
However, if it's more memes that you're after, check out our piece on History Memes Explained, a cool social media project that not only collects but also dissects the best memes about our past.
Trying To Get Rid Of The Evidence? Not On Mr Eisenhower's Watch!
Money Money Money Moneyyy
Any Great Historical Figure Would Be Honoured To Be Played By Cillian Murphy, I'm Sure
Uhh Excuse Me
'man, I Love This Skirt! Also, You Heard Khomeini's Latest Speech? That Guy Sure Is Whacky, Huh?'
"If There Was An Allied Hero Who Deserved To Be Remembered And Celebrated, This Was A Person With Few Peers"
Abc News Called It "The Poster Child Of Excessive Lawsuits" But Most People Don't Believe That Anymore
Greek Fire Was An Incendiary Substance Developed By The Byzantine Empire Around 666 Ad. It Would Mainly Be Used In Naval Battles, And Would Be Sprayed From A Nozzle Onto Nearby Enemy Ships
Note: this post originally had 119 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.