Modern History Index
Modern history is usually dated from the French Revolution, as if the storming of the Bastille was the first act of modernity. I have used that traditional date for the timeline.
But there may be other, more apposite dates that come to mind: 4 July 1776, for example, is the date of the inauguration of liberal democratic government. Or any of a plethora of events at the same time which led to the economic dislocations of the agricultural and industrial revolutions and thus to the capitalist economy which is synonymous with modernism.
Different historians will stress different aspects of development but as I saw the Black Death as the event which marked the end of the medieval era, because it destroyed the feudal economy, I would think that end of the mercantilist state and the birth of modern industrial capitalism is as telling as the inauguration of a democratic, libertarian and egalitarian polity.
Modern history was the main area of my study of history in my first go at tertiary education: nineteenth and twentieth century European political and economic history; Australian history; and American history. I taught modern history to high school students for 16 years. It is a favourite era but not one I do much writing in these days - except to tell the stories of some of the fascinating characters on the modern era, like Gavrilo Princip, probably the man who most shaped the twentieth century.
Those aspects of modern history that call to me are oral history and family history and I intend the use this site for those purposes.
Modern History on this site
The material currently in this section of the History site derives from both oral and family history. It is the World War II memories of Harold Herman, my father.
Recently I prevailed on my father who served as an infantry soldier in the Australian army in New Guinea to talk about his experiences. He had had a rough time in the war - spending about six months at the front in the Wau-Salamaua campaign and then another three years in hospitals recovering from a wound and subsequent amputation of his left leg. he had not really talked about this for nearly fifty years but I finally got his recollections on tape and have been editing them (with his help) into a coherent narrative. These were published in booklet form on his 77th birthday - 13 March 1999 - and are now being posted on to the web.
In addition to the narrative there are some addenda on points of interest, like his medical chart for his New Guinea hospitalisation, and some other material of interest, including photos, maps, a family tree and so on.
It is likely that further entries in the modern history section will similarly be related to oral histories or family stories.
Last updated: 10 January 2002