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Putting the Story Back into History

There are two quite distinct purposes of history; the superior purpose, which is its use for children, and the secondary, or inferior purpose, which is its use for historians. The highest and noblest thing that history can be is a good story.
          —G. K. Chesterton

Welcome to Heritage History

If you are visiting the Heritage History electronic library for the first time, welcome! Our library contains hundreds of entertaining and easily-read history books which were written for students and non-specialists many years ago. Likewise, all the illustrations, maps, and other history-related material on our site were taken from traditional history books and student atlases that are no longer copyright protected and are available to republish without cost.

This video introduction is a great way
to learn about our classical library,
curriculum, and teaching philosophy

The mission of Heritage History is to make old-fashioned history books, written for the enjoyment of young people, easily available. The complete text of every book in our library can be read directly off the website, and both printable and e-Reader formats are available at the Heritage Store.

We developed the Heritage website with the intention of helping to repopularize old-fashioned narrative history. We believe that the current trend of teaching Social Studies rather than history to young people is unfortunate, not so much because it is politicized, but because it is boring. Too many students leave school with a vague disinterest in history because it was never presented in an engaging manner.

At Heritage History, we seek to promote, not so much the study of history as the enjoyment of History. By making available old-fashioned history, as it was enjoyed as a pastime rather than studied as a subject, we hope to help reawaken the interest of a new generation.

Story Based History

MINSTRELS SANG OF THE FAMOUS DEEDS OF HEROES, H. E. Marshall - English Literature for Boys and Girls Most of the books prepared for Heritage History take a old-fashioned, or story-based approach to presenting history, rather than an analytical or critical approach. Our books do not attempt to explain the "underlying forces" that influence history, or critique ancient notions of human rights, or focus on contrasts between cultures. Instead they are based simply on stories that have been retold for dozens of generations regarding individual characters, important conflicts, and events of special interest. The stories are connected by simple narrative threads and are shorn of complicated analysis.

This approach to history is not our own invention, but was in fact, the traditional approach to teaching young people history in almost every introductory history book right up until the mid 20th century. The trend toward interpreting history as social science in the Universities began in the 19th century, but it was not until the baby-boomer generation that Social Studies and historical criticism replaced traditional, narrative history in elementary and secondary schools.

We believe that the modern emphasis on abstract themes rather than fundamental knowledge is wrong-headed because it encourages students to interpret history before they learn the most basic facts. The priorities of modern academics are perfectly exemplified by the instructions for the College board AP World History test. Students are expected to know . . .

"The importance of European exploration, but not individual explorers,"
"Characteristics of European absolution, but not individual rulers,"
and "Causes of the World Wars, but not battles in the wars.".

The traditional view of history was that students should have a solid grounding in the stories of history before delving into analysis, but the message students get from modern colleges is to focus on concepts and don't bother with the details. This is unfortunate, since it is precisely the rivoting tales of exploration and adventure, palace politics, and critical battles that are of most compelling interest. It is the stories of history themselves, not abstract "themes", that inspire a love of the subject.

Whatever the merits of this new analytical approach may be, it is considerably less interesting to most students than the traditional approach and modern students are far less knowledgeable about history than their great-grandparents were.

Our Collection of Books


Heritage History's online Library allows you to view over four hundred titles, sorted by genre, author, series, and civilization. Each book is listed according to difficulty: Green Links indicate introductory books, appropriate for older grammar school students; Brown Links refer to material appropriate for middle school; and Red Links indicate books that are appropriate for an intelligent high school student.

In addition to hundreds of books, the Heritage Libary includes thousands of Historical Images, a database of Historical Characters and a complete Battle Dictionary. All can be sorted by name, date, and civilization. The Series page lists all of the books in the Heritage library that are part of a series so students who enjoy one book in a set can easily locate other similar volumes, and the Authors page provides some background information about some of Heritage History's most prolific authors.

Most of the books in the Heritage collection come from the private library of a long time collector of chidren's histories. Some of these books were found by combing the children's history shelves in dozens of used book stores. Others were identified by reviewing book catalogs published by librarians in the early twentieth century or by tracking down additional books from favorite authors and publishers.

Although our focus is primarily on young people's history, we have included several books of interest to moderately sophisticated adults. None of the books in the Heritage library, however, require specialized knowledge of economics or political philosophy. Only an interest in the subject matter and some familiarity with the historical era is required, even for our most advanced selections.

Electronic Books and Libraries

Heritage History Ancient Greece Study Guide, Curriculum CD and Kindle
Study Guide, Curriculum CD, and Kindle

In order to make it easier to read books from the Heritage History library off-line we provide each of the books in the library in both printable and e-Reader formats. More information about our e-Books can be found at the Heritage Store.

For those users with specialized interests, Heritage History also provides Curriculum CDs with preselected collections of books that pertain to a specific historical period. Some of these curriculum packages, which include timelines, historical maps, and battle dictionaries as well as e-Books, feature such topics as Ancient Greece, Early America, and British Empire. We also have a Young Readers collection, that features easy-to-read selections from many different civilizations. More information about Heritage Classical Curriculums can be found at the Heritage Store.

More Information

Short answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" about Heritage History can be found on our FAQs page. Lists of books that we recommend for users with special interests can be found on the Favorites page. Links to a variety of other information, such as Terms of Use, and the manner in which we select books to put on the website, can be found on the Heritage History Blog.

If you would like more information or if you would like permission to use our resources for commercial or public purposes, contact us at infodesk @ heritage-history.com.