History Personal Statement
Listening to my grandparents' accounts of air raid drills, blackouts and the arrival of evacuees in North Wales during the Second World War triggered my interest in history. My curiosity about the past was further inspired by looking at family photographs and heirlooms and exploring their backgrounds. Studying history at school has intensified my enthusiasm for the subject; I gain great pleasure from discovering how people lived and societies functioned in earlier times. It has also helped me to understand how the present is inextricably linked with the past.
A desire to broaden my historical knowledge through independent study has prompted me to read many inspiring books outside the A-level syllabus. Dan Jones' "The Plantagenets" caused me to reflect on how decisions taken by successive mediaeval rulers had repercussions for the stability of England as well as an enduring influence over later centuries. In order to further my understanding of the German inter-war period I read Richard Overy's "The Third Reich: A Chronicle". Overy's analysis of Hitler's popularity and its correlation with his successes in domestic and foreign policy gave me additional insight into the rise and fall of the regime.
I've since had the opportunity to visit Berlin where I viewed several excellent exhibitions, including the Topography of Terror; the experience was sobering and added significantly to my appreciation of this period. Spending time in this formerly divided city and seeing remnants of the Wall made a profound impression on me; this inspired further research and reading into the context and consequences of the Cold War. For one of my Welsh Baccalaureate projects I chose to study the political history of Kenya, as my father was born there shortly before independence. This stimulated me to learn more about British colonialism and its legacies. With this in mind I read Kwasi Kwarteng's "Ghosts of Empire" which was very enlightening and informative. I found his views concerning the often arbitrary governance and development of the British Empire thought-provoking and they led me to reflect on my preconceptions regarding this aspect of British history.
Material culture and its reflection of past societies and events is an aspect of history that interests me greatly. I was fascinated by the radio series "A History of the World in 100 Objects", which in my view offered a valuable additional perspective to the study of primary sources, complementing text-based research. This year I volunteered with the National Trust at Dinefwr in Carmarthenshire where I learned to organise and display historical information and resources for educational purposes. I was part of a team which recreated Second World War mess rooms, hospital wards and barracks in preparation for the property's summer exhibition. I was given the responsibility of leading tours around the house, which required me to interpret the history of the estate for the visitors.
Aside from my academic studies, music plays an important part in my life. I am currently preparing for grade 8 piano and grade 6 flute examinations and sing with the school choir. I also attend tap and modern dance classes and take part in local musical theatre productions. I have been an active member of the school council since year seven and was recently elected deputy head girl. I have found the experience of preparing for and participating in discussions with fellow students and teachers very valuable in developing my debating and decision-making skills. The sense of fulfilment I gain from exploring and analysing the past and a desire to develop my abilities as a historian are the reasons why I want to study history at university. I believe that I have the commitment and determination to succeed at this level and am excited by the prospect of experiencing life as a history undergraduate.
This personal statement was written by hannahcat for application in 2013.
hannahcat's university choices
The University of Durham
University of Exeter
The University of York
Green: offer made
Red: no offer made
Modern History at University of St Andrews