According to a recent Smithsonian article, fewer than 20 percent of 8th graders have a basic knowledge of American history. However, while most people disregard the importance of history, there are proven ways that you can expand your own knowledge of the American past.

Visit the Library
There are an almost 120,000 libraries in America. Libraries are the foundation of the knowledge ecosystem within the U.S. There are different resources available, from books to DVDs, which patrons can easily borrow. In fact, the available nonfiction printed materials will also include hard-to-find academic and research publications.

Road Trip
For your next vacation, instead of just visiting popular destinations, considering creating your own history filled road trip. Historical sites, museums, centers and landmarks will have valuable information and knowledgeable staff that will make your trip well worth the effort. Find a national historic landmark from the National Park Service.

Interview Those Who Experienced It
One of the best ways to learn history is through talking with those who experienced it. Consider creating your own project to research and interview people regarding monumental historical events within American history. For example, consider interviewing World War II veterans and others who served during the war to better understand the historical event from a personal perspective.

While many people lament the amount of time wasted in front of the TV or computer, there are excellent historical documentaries available which cover almost every subject and time period. In fact, there are many documentaries available on YouTube and other popular video sharing websites for free viewing.

Get a History Degree
The most comprehensive way to fully expand your knowledge of American history is through a formal degree. This will expand your knowledge base, improve your historical insight and sharpen your understanding of current affairs. Students of history are fortunate to be able to complete their degree entirely online. For example, Norwich University offers an online master's degree in history.

Historical Society
Joining a local historical society is an excellent way to meet other history buffs with similar interests and participate in fun historical reenactments. Once you complete your history degree, consider joining the largest and oldest historical organization of historians in the U.S., the American Historical Association (AHA). They advocate to protect history, promote scholarly debate and improve history curriculum.

There are personal, social and academic ways to learn more about U.S. History. These are just a few ideas to get you started.

Author's Bio: 

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about family, health, home and lifestyle. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn't writing.