Dr. Timothy Fitzpatrick is always a smiling face on campus who will take any chance to get to know students, whether he teaches them or not. However, chances are if he’s talked to you, he’s also talked about history in some way, shape or form. So it is not surprising that history is a big part of who he is, but how he got his passion for the subject is an even bigger part of him.
Fitzpatrick found his love for history from being surrounded by it where he lived. He grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia, a key town in American History. Williamsburg was founded as the capital of the Virginia Colony in 1699 and was one of America’s first planned cities. Now Williamsburg is known as the center for the preservation and interpretation of American colonial history. In the heart of Williamsburg is Colonial Williamsburg, a historic district and the largest living-history museum where people reenact colonial life in the streets, stores and workshops.
Being surrounded by history reenactment, it came naturally to Fitzpatrick to join the Florida Full Time Federal Reenactment group. This group brings the intensive research of historians to life through their reenactments of historical events and wars. These reenactments bring crowds of people to the historic sites and provide tourism for the state as well as keep the state’s history alive.
“We [the Florida Full Time Federal Reenactment group] put on battles such as Lusty, Natural Bridge and more,” Fitzpatrick said. “We go out there and actually do it authentically like they would in the Civil War. I’ve also written books on Waterloo about the tactics and strategies used, so it’s both a hobby and a profession.”
On the professional side of things, Fitzpatrick’s book, “The Long Shadow of Waterloo,” focuses on the long term impact of the Battle of Waterloo, fought in 1815, on the nations that fought there rather than solely focusing on the details of the battle. The book focuses on important topics but still mixes in Fitzpatrick’s humor to create what reviews described as an “entertaining and often surprising book.” Fitzpatrick’s interest in this battle stems from his interest in 19th century world history.
“I like the 19th century because of all the changes that are happening, it is a dynamic century,” Fitzpatrick said. “It showcases the good, bad and the ugly. I also like the renaissance for the same reasons, just a lot of change. I also like it now. We’re living in very historically significant times. People always ask me what time period I would like to live in and I always say now because I like antibiotics and dentistry.”
However, Fitzpatrick makes sure that he isn’t the only one who gets to experience the fun in history. In Fitzpatrick’s AP World History classes, rather than taking the typical paper final, his students performed reenactments on the Enlightenment.
“The purpose of having a different midterm was being able to experience how people interacted in the enlightenment,” sophomore Payton Thumm said. “We reenacted a salon from the enlightenment era. I think it was more effective than a normal midterm.”
Teaching kids the importance of history through fun ways such as reenactments can help them understand it better. Rather than just reading from a textbook and trying to make sense of the situation in front of you, acting out what’s happening during the time can help make learning fun and more understandable. Fitzpatrick’s love for history as a hobby and a profession helps teach the next generation how to make the world a better place.
“We can learn from the past and change the future,” Fitzpatrick said. “If you’re ever gonna make any money and invest in a company you’re gonna want to look at a company’s history because it’s a good predictor of the future. I like to think of myself as both a historian and a futurist.”