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8 Historical Facts Every Student Needs to Know

The study of history seeps into many facets of everyday life. It is more than just a series of events; it is a story, told and retold, embellished over time, printed in the history books, made into movies, and often forgotten.

Memorizing dates and facts will help you on dual credit exams, but it cannot replace a working knowledge of the story of mankind. Here are some basic facts everyone should know.

Related: You can save time and money on college by taking the US History I CLEP exam! Learn what you can expect when you take this exam.

1.The birth of civilization

The first documented civilization in history was in Sumer. Sumer was located in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), starting around the year 5000 BC, or even earlier by some accounts. The Sumerians practiced agriculture intensively, developed a written language, invented the wheel, and constructed the first urban centers – among other things!

2.Democracy

The first democracy was developed in Ancient Greece in the 6th century BC.

3.Invention of paper

Paper was invented by the Chinese in the 2nd century BC. Before paper was used for writing, it was used for packaging, protection, and even toilet paper.

4.The Roman Empire

Considered the most powerful empire in the history of the world, the Roman Empire came into power in 44 BC under Julius Caesar. The empire lasted more than 1,000 years and made considerable contributions to mankind, specifically in the areas of architecture, religion, philosophy, and government.

5.The Magna Carta

This document was sealed and delivered in 1215. It was created by the citizens of England in order to limit the rights of King John. This document led to the development of constitutional law in England and beyond. Celebrations are being planned for 2015 – 800 years of democracy!

6.The Black Death

Culminating between 1348 and 1350, the Black Death was a pandemic of enormous proportions, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people across Asia and Europe. Some estimates put the death total at 60% of Europe’s population at the time.

7.The Renaissance

This cultural movement lasted from the 14th to the 17th centuries, and contributed to the rebirth of scientific exploration, artistic endeavors, architecture, philosophy, literature, and music. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread rapidly throughout Europe. Some of the greatest contributions of mankind were made during this fascinating period.

8.World Wars I and II

Two of the deadliest wars of our time. World War I took place from 1914-1919, and World War II from 1939-1945.
The allies in WWI consisted of the United Kingdom, France, the Russian Empire, Italy, the United States, and Japan. They fought against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.

World War II was the deadliest war ever fought and the most widespread war in history. It was fought by more than 30 nations and included the Holocaust, the deaths of more than 60 million people, and the introduction of nuclear weapons.

Any study of history must include a basic understanding of facts and figures, but if all you did was simply memorize names and dates, you’d be selling yourself short and missing out on the amazing story of mankind.

Related: Check out our 10 Tips for Passing the US History I CLEP Exam.

In the Dual Credit at Home Study Plans, students get in-depth studies of both American and world history and are prepared to take and pass the college-level exams – earning them dual credit!


Becky Muldrow & the Dual Credit at Home Team
Becky Muldrow & the Dual Credit at Home Team

I'm Becky Muldrow, wife to my high school sweetheart, Gene, and mom to 10 great kids! I love spending my days homeschooling the last 4 of them and sharing (on my website and at homeschool conferences) how we do high school differently - by replacing it with college.