— About Us —

August 11, 1999

Welcome to

I'm Jon Musgrave, your host at the Southern Illinois History Page. This is where Illinois begins. It's a site designed to showcase the region's history in a way from which we can learn.

We study history not to know the "who, what, when and where," but rather the "why" and the "how." The "who, what, when and where" of history is knowledge. We think it's important, but mostly it just trivia that occupies brain cells — answers best suited to questions on Jeopardy! The "why" and "how" are different. Used right, they represent wisdom. We gain wisdom by learning from our experiences. As children we learn that a candle flame is hot, usually by trying to touch it once. When we find out it burns, we don't touch it again. Knowing that a candle's flame is hot, that's knowledge. Making a decision not to touch it again because we know it's hot, that's wisdom.

For the most part, we gain wisdom by learning from our own personal experiences. That is why we equate being old with being wise. That's usually true because being old represents successfully completing the challenges of life. The knowledge of facts isn't as important to being wise as using what you do know to make decisions. If a candle's flame is hot the first time I touch it I know it will still be hot the second time. Foolish people who don't learn to avoid getting burned usually don't last long enough to become old and wise.

Back to history for a moment. We study history for wisdom. I know; knowing all of the presidents in order might have made you a stud on the scholar bowl team in junior high, but today, so what! However, if I study the mistakes and successes of all the presidents, it might make me a better president someday. You can even develop more wisdom when you learn how to take a past experience (regardless of whether it's your own) and tailor it to a completely different situation.

History can lead to wisdom for one simply reason. Humanity doesn't change. Civilizations may advance and decline, but human nature today is no different than when Cain slew Abel in a fit of jealousy. There's a cliche that history repeats itself. That's not because history is condemned to repeat itself. It's because humans, especially humans in large groups, have a tendency not to learn from their own experiences or anyone else's.

This site is designed to explore our region's history. Our ancestors made mistakes. They also built the best civilization the world has known. It's up to us to learn from those mistakes and find out what worked from the successes.


Jon Musgrave

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Last updated Aug 11, 1999 — Back to the Southern Illinois History Page
©1999 Jon Musgrave