The title of this blog comes from a sports related analogy. Much like basketball players who hang around a gym all the time are called gym rats, my entire life has been spent hanging around history. Whether it be books, educational films, board games, toy soldiers, or historical sites, I am a history rat.

My credentials
I teach 8th grade US history, 7th grade Geography and 6th grade World History in a small town in northern Illinois and have done so for 25 years at my current school. My students participate in the History Fair (National History Day) program yearly. I also coach the academic team.

This blog started in 2008 and originally was about local and Illinois History. I have expanded the topics to cover a wide variety of subjects and events in the history of the US.

I also have co-written chapters in the following books:

  • Henning, M.B., & Johnson, R. T. (2014). Integrating literature into a study of social issues in United States history: Adding context, emotion, and perspective. In S. Totten, & J.E. Peterson (Eds). Educating about social issues in the 20th and 21st centuries, Volume 4: A critical annotated bibliography. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Henning, M.B., & Johnson, R. T. (2013). The Vietnam War: Dilemmas of power. In S. Totten, & J.E. Peterson (Eds). Educating about social issues in the 20th and 21st centuries, Volume 2: A critical annotated bibliography (pp. 161- 188). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

To contact me, send me an email at historyrat@yahoo.com

This is my buddy Zeus, my sixteen year-old terrier.



  1. It’s some sort of shame you don’t employ a give money button! I’d definitely give money for this brilliant web page! When i suppose at the moment i’ll be satisfied with bookmarking in addition to using ones Feed to help the The search engines bank account.

  2. Gosh, this is fantastic. Being a fellow history buff and someone you graduated with…I had no idea you turned out to be such an insightful guy. Keep it up! I bookmarked your blog!

  3. My writing partner Bob Boone and I have been working on a new creative writing/history textbook, based on 40 events in Chicago history, entitled WRITE THROUGH CHICAGO. Amika Press (http://www.amikapress.com) plans to publish the book upon completion, hopefully as early as September 2013. Each of our units includes a photo, but we’ve been having trouble finding anything in the public domain for DISCO DEMOLITION NIGHT. Our search led us to the pictures on your website. Can you help us contact whomever has the copyrights to any of the Disco Demolition Night pics? We’d just need one.

    I see that you’re an 8th grade teacher in the northern Illinois area. Bob and I both live in Lake County. Maybe you’d be interested in having us visit your class sometime and conducting some history based creative writing activities?

    Although I didn’t attend the event, I was only a few weeks into my career, teaching summer school at Highland Park High School to kids who had flunked English during the year. A number of my students were at Comiskey that night.

    Mark H. Larson

  4. While looking for any information on a relative of mine, Robert Card, an Illinois State Police motorcycle cop who was killed during the Prohibition Era, I came across your blog. Will be reading this daily, thanks for being here.

  5. I have an uncle who played baseball in the minor leagues during the 1920’s. I have several team photos of that time period but know nothing about them. On the front of the team jerseys are the letters NSH. Any idea which team that could be? I also have a players ticket book for the Nashville league and a contract unsigned for him to play for $75 a month. I have been checking online to find out anything without any luck.

  6. I have several signed prints by Charles Turzak. They are titled as Paul Revere House, Old State House – Boston, Old N. Church – Boston, The Young Printer and “I Love the Ladies.” Are these prints rare?

  7. I think it was my mother’s intention that I at some point see about whether there are any individuals or institutions who would be interested in these prints. Looks like the theme is Boston…old Boston as well as two prints from the Benjamin Franklin series. If there is any direction you can give me in this endeavor I would be very grateful. Thanks and have a good day.

  8. Just read your story in Mr. Rae. Interesting story. I read the book Monuments Men and enjoyed it a great deal. It’s just another example how another aspect of the war has been overlooked by historians who are more interested in the “blood and guts” of war. Love to seit down with over a beer or coffee and talk more

  9. History Rat, your site was the first that popped up when I typed in “girls athletic association”. I found a handbook of my mother’s 1944, for tracking her GAA hours of compliance. I think you’d like it. I will send some pictures to your yahoo address. My mom was a sports editor for Steinmetz High school. Funny, but after she married, her sports days got left behind.
    I wanted to get this comment out, even tho I am still reading this article.

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