Caring for the Globe

No, I’m not talking about the Earth. Rather, the world globe given to my father upon his graduation from high school. That gift from my grandparents is among three generations of family keepsakes that my brother and I hold. It was our expectation that we would pass at least some to the fourth generation. They’re not interested.

They’re also not alone. Curiosity about the past among younger Americans is on the decline. “Only 20.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 visited a historic site in 2012—down about 8 percentage points from just 10 years earlier.” Other survey data shows that “Americans’ knowledge of civics and history is pitiful.”1 Similarly, interest in antiques and “old stuff” has declined sharply in recent years.2 A preference for minimalism and mobility leaves the belongings of past generations behind.

Carl E. R. Jacobson’s terrestrial globe.

I’m not suggesting that we should be tradition-bound, save everything, and resist all change. I much prefer aspects of society and life today, compared to the world of my grandparents. Yet, I am who I am, in part, because of those who came before. One of the ways I connect with them is by holding objects they held, reading passages they wrote, walking where they walked, and by trying to understand the choices they made—and in turn better understand myself.

In what ways will next generations connect to their heritage?

Who will care for the “globe”?

This work by Bruce E. Jacobson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Last Updated on 24 April 2024.

  1. ”American’s Declining Interest in History Hitting Museums Like Colonial Wlliamsburg Hard” at The Federalist ( : accessed 22 Aug 2019).
  2. A web search produces dozens of articles about the dying antique and collectables market.

3 thoughts on “Caring for the Globe

  1. Liz Augustine – Oh yeah, and I’m the meat in the middle of that sandwich! I can’t take on any more STUFF – and I can’t “dump” my stuff on family either! They’re too wise. Honestly, it just becomes a bunch of crap that we all have to drag around as we move from place to place. It’s a heavy burden.
    So I’m slowly finding other people who will enjoy my “stuff” and selecting a very few very treasured pieces that I think will go over well within the family.

    1. Family keepsakes can be a burden but they also can be en – lightening, illuminating who we are.

  2. Deborah Page – I inherited a massive amount of family history in the form of documents, jewelry, marble busts, quilts, travel momentos, war souvenirs, aprons, furntiture…. and over the years I’ve build a wall of photographs I’ve collected, a few that go back several generations. I love genealogy because the stories I discover and the photos give me some sense of connection and continuity in understanding my own place in the cosmos. I too, feel that sense of continuity is connected to a caring for our world….without an experience of lineage, why care/worry about the future? I’m hopeful another way is possible- maybe stories kept alive (Storycorps is a good example) and less tied up with objects. (and I am so sad no one saved the globe in my family!)

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