People Lists

I have found it useful to memorize some name lists. I had more success in memorizing the lists when I could bring my visual sense into play, by putting the lists on a piece of paper divided into boxes that represent centuries. In that way, I could not only remember who came after whom,” but I could see the person at a spot on the page – for example, I could see Queen Anne at the lower left of my paper. You are welcome to give it a try. Here’s the approach.

Fold a piece of paper into 12 spaces in this way: First, fold it into three starting from the narrow end, just as you would in order to put a letter into a business size envelope. Then, fold that resulting piece in half, and then in half again one more time. When you open the paper, you will have 12 spaces. That’s enough for a ten-century period, with an overlap on each end for people that lived in more than one century.

With the narrow side of the opened paper toward you, you should see 4 spaces along your top row. The space at the left will be used for title and overlap. At the right edge of that space, draw a line along the vertical crease. The space to the right of the line will be the century you start with. In my example, put this label in the box at the left: ROMAN EMPERORS. Then on the line you have drawn, write 1 AD. On the next crease write a 1, which represents the beginning of the years that start with 100. The space between the 1 AD and the 1 is the first century. On the next crease write a 2, and at the extreme right edge of the paper write a 3. The space to the left of that 3 is the third century, that is, all the years that are in the 200’s. 

The next row of creases will start with that 3 written against the left edge. The next crease will be a 4, then a 5, then a 6, and the number 7 will be written on the edge. The lower course begins with that 7 along the edge of the paper, then 8 on the first crease, 9 on the second crease, and 10 on the third crease. Along that crease draw a vertical line, because the millennium is finished, and the final space at the right is for overlap. The method gives you an easy way to create the spaces, so you can use scrap paper at any time to review what you are memorizing.

I then want to fit the Roman emperors of each century inside the appropriate box. (In memorizing the emperors, I did not memorize those who served for less than a year). I wrote Augustus with the A overlapping the first crease, since he began to rule before 1 AD. Then I wrote the rest of the emperors under his name, each one slightly indented from the one above. I ran out of room before I ran out of emperors, so I began a second column using the same procedure. The end result was:

     Augustine                    Vespasian
        Tiberius                         Titus
            Caligula                         Domitian
               Claudius                          Nerva
                    Nero                                Trajan

I then continued by putting names in the rest of the boxes, up to the 5th century, (A list of emperors is available in an almanac or encyclopedia, print or online.) The important is not how you write the names, but that you write them in the same place every time, to bring your visual sense into play. When you finish the emperors, the other half of your page is still blank. That is OK. Or, you can choose to learn the Byzantine emperors on the same sheet.

In this approach, you will have separate sheets for each list you are interested in. .  I found that learning the English kings helped me to be able to follow events in this past millennium  Other lists you could consider are Greek philosophers, Christian church fathers, and noteworthy scientists. Once you internalize each list, your brain will be able to put together the connections when you are reading about a given century. 

I hope this approach works for you.

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