History isn’t dry, dusty books. It’s a living thing, that surrounds us and defines us in ways we may not expect. It’s just a question of learning it. While there’s a lot out there, from ebooks to podcasts, these five apps will help you get a better sense of history and start digging into the past.
Part of the challenge of history is figuring out exactly when something happened. If you want a big overview of everything going on at once, History Timeline (Android, Free) does exactly what you’d think. Quite a bit of notable history is laid out in an easy-to-read timeline that lets you see where art, science, politics, and other events overlap, so you can see just how, say, scientific thought influenced the Renaissance, or how political events in one sphere overlapped with another.
We’d never send you off into the wilds of YouTube without a guide, and that’s where Khan Academy comes in. The nonprofit educational service is filled with bite-size lectures on, well, pretty much everything under the sun. Whether you want to learn more about art or just want to get up to speed on more than one aspect of American history, it’s probably here.
Today In History
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“Nothing important happened today” is, famously, what King George entered into his journal on July 4th, 1776. And we can fall prey to the idea of “important dates” being the only ones to remember. But history happens all day, every day and has since the beginning, and Today In History is a handy way to track those day-to-day occurrences. You can surface a number of different little historical tidbits, from important battles to the general weirdness that fun history is full of. For example, today, October 9th, is both the day the Manhattan Project was launched in 1941 and also when Charlemagne was crowned king of the Franks in 768.
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OK, so technically this is a streaming service. But before the History Channel was known primarily for anything but History, people… well, they made fun of it for airing nothing but World War II documentaries. But for $5 a month, History Vault has a deep, deep library of documentaries about everything from ancient history to, yes, World War II. If you enjoy learning, and have time to kill in line, this’ll be a good way to get caught up on the past.
Yeah, no historian uses Wikipedia as their primary source. And you shouldn’t either. That said, the internet’s favorite reference work is a useful starting point to learn more about history, as you can follow links and check the notes for primary sources. Consider Wikipedia as your launching point to the vast, vast collection of history on the internet. Once you find something interesting, you can go from there.
What are your favorite apps to learn about history? Let us know in the comments!