Finding History in Your Backyard

When I travel to write and photograph historical reenactments or historical sites, I often do some advanced research of the path I will be taking so I can look at sites that weren’t part of my travel plans. Sometimes I use smartphone apps to discover things along the way, or for a quick day trip when I have free time. Most search engines can give you basic information on nearby sites, but, there are several history specific websites and apps that can help you find specific information and give you a documented history of the sites near you.

The main app that I use as I am traveling is the Clio app. The Clio has contributors from many colleges, universities, and Local/ Regional Historical Societies. Downloading the app or using the website can help you find historical and cultural sites near your house, or along the road, as you travel. You can also sign up to be a contributor to the site and help boost the resources available to others. The Clio app is available on all smartphone platforms and you can find their website here.

An example of the Clio App.

The website uses Google Streetview to compare old photos of an area to current photos for those researching the history and information of a neighborhood or town. The website description says:
The WhatWasThere project was inspired by the realization that we could leverage technology and the connections it facilitates to provide a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past.

Civil War Trails is a great resource for finding American Civil War sites that you may not even know are near you. They offer maps available for download in PDF format for those looking for an adventure to Civil War sites.

The American Battlefield Trust traces the sites of historic American Battlefields. the organization started out as the Civil War Trust but has expanded its purpose to include Revolutionary War sites as well. They are a great resource for finding sites near you to understand the growth and trying times of the United States.

I hope you take the time to use some of these sites and apps to explore our history. As I find more apps and sites to share, I will post them.

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