Retro Spectives: Yesterday Once More

By David A. Fryxell Premium

This may come as a shock to those of you who dozed off in history class, your bored and drooping head coming to rest somewhere between the Louisiana Purchase on page 231 and the Alamo on page 287, but history is hot. Not quite Britney Spears hot, maybe, but definitely on a popularity upswing. Consider this evidence:

• According to a recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, “visiting historic sites” ranks as the seventh most popular out-of-the-home activity among US adults 16 and up.

• History figures heavily among recent New York Times best sellers, such as The Greatest Generation and its spinoffs, John Adams, Theodore Rex, Churchill, Band of Brothers (also a hit on HBO), Founding Brothers and Flags of Our Fathers.

• The History Channel continues to boom, showing double-digit increases in revenue that put it among the leaders of ad-supported cable channels.

• Interest in family history is surging, as well. After launching the genealogy publication Family Tree Magazine <> three years ago, we’ve gained more than 150,000 readers in just three years. But we’ve barely begun to tap what Time magazine calls “roots mania”: According to Maritz Research, 33 million Americans say they’re “very interested” in family history — up 74 percent from 1995 and 471 percent from 1987.

Trendwatcher Faith Popcorn, author of The Popcorn Report, groups all these developments into a trend she calls “anchoring”: “A reaching back to our spiritual roots, taking what was secure from the past in order to be ready for the future.”

That’s all well and good, but what does it mean for you? That’s where America’s Scrapbook comes in. This special issue from the publishers of Family Tree Magazine personalizes the booming interest in history. It puts you into the past by showing you how to connect your life today with the events, people, culture, inventions, trends, fashions, fads, triumphs and tragedies of yesterday.

After all, the current history boom is fueled not by an interest in the dates and dusty facts of history textbooks, but by a fascination with the flesh-and-blood, ordinary folks who made history. Whether it’s Lewis and Clark, whose famous trek will be celebrated in this bicentennial year, or the humble makers of Tastykakes and other regional foods that make up America’s culinary heritage, America’s Scrapbook helps you bring the real stuff of history into your life. Have a hankering to see what the Civil War was really like? You’ll find out. Ever wonder about the history of your house? We’ll show you how to explore it.

America’s Scrapbook connects your life with the past, as well as with the historic developments that affect you today. We cover everything from social changes to the stories behind everyday objects. Consider the potato chip, for example, which marks 150 years of crunchiness in 2003. Or the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, roaring its way into a second century.

Throughout this special issue, we’ll give you the information and tools you need to take the next step and explore your connection with history on your own. From Web sites to historic sites, books to re-enactments, you can start making some history yourself.

Oh, and as for that Britney Spears? She’s history.
From Family Tree Magazine‘s March 2003 America’s Scrapbook.