History isn’t just a series of events recorded in textbooks; it’s also about the people who shaped those events with their courage, innovation, and determination.
Diving deep into the lives of historical figures allows students to understand the motivations and circumstances that drove these individuals to change the world.
Students have a unique perspective, as they often approach these figures with fresh eyes, untainted by years of bias or preconceived notions.
Here are the top seven historical figures whose incredible stories are worthy of exploration and narration by student biographers.
Why Should Students Attempt To Wrote Biographies?
Writing biographies requires a deep dive into the lives, cultures, and times these figures lived in.
By encouraging students to write these biographies, we not only allow them to develop crucial research and writing skills but also allow them to empathize with and understand the motivations of these historical icons.
Moreover, with the internet being a vast resource, students have access to a plethora of information, making their research journey both enlightening and comprehensive.
That said, if they need help with research or academic writing, there are always paper writing services that students can find by Googling “Who can help me with my essay?”. With some expert assistance, that biography will be truly outstanding.
7 Notable Historical Figures Who Should Have Student-Written Biographies
1. Joan of Arc
Often taught as a mere footnote in world history, Joan of Arc’s life blended mysticism, warfare, and early feminism. A teenager who led an army and played a crucial role in the Hundred Years’ War, her story is a testament to youthful passion and determination.
Joan’s rise from a peasant girl in Domrémy to the savior of France is an incredible journey filled with obstacles. Born during a time when women were largely relegated to traditional roles, Joan broke all societal norms.
Guided by her visions and an unwavering belief that she was chosen by God, she convinced Prince Charles of Valois to let her lead an army against the English. Her success in lifting the Siege of Orléans is miraculous and cemented her place in history.
Tragically, her life was cut short when she was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, and subsequently burned at the stake for charges including cross-dressing and heresy. But her legacy lived on.
Joan became a symbol of resistance, faith, and empowerment. Centuries later, she was canonized as a saint, forever immortalizing her as a beacon of hope and resilience. Her story serves as a reminder that even in the face of insurmountable odds, one can leave an indelible mark on history.
Given the depth and complexity of Joan of Arc’s life, she presents an ideal subject for student-written biographies. Delving into her story allows students to explore the intersections of history, gender, religion, and politics in medieval Europe.
By researching and writing about Joan, students can gain insights into the societal structures of the time and the exceptional nature of her achievements.
Moreover, her tale of courage, conviction, and resilience can inspire young minds, teaching them about the potential of an individual to influence the course of history, even when faced with overwhelming challenges.
Students taking on the task of penning her biography would not only sharpen their research and writing skills but also enrich their understanding of the human spirit’s undying flame.
2. Mansa Musa
One of the wealthiest individuals ever to have lived, Mansa Musa ruled the Mali Empire during its golden age. His pilgrimage to Mecca put Mali on the world map, literally. Understanding his reign provides insight into the rich history of Africa before colonialism.
Mansa Musa’s leadership not only epitomized the economic and cultural zenith of Mali but also showcased the interconnectivity of ancient trade routes and the dissemination of knowledge.
Under his rule, cities like Timbuktu transformed into learning centers, drawing scholars from various parts of the world. His penchant for the arts and architecture led to the construction of several mosques and universities, some of which stand to this day as a testament to Mali’s architectural grandeur.
In an academic landscape where African history often takes a backseat, diving deep into the life and times of Mansa Musa offers students a unique opportunity to discover a narrative that counters the oft-perceived notion of a “Dark Continent”.
Writing a biography about him enables students to unveil pre-colonial Africa’s opulence, sophistication, and vibrancy, challenging stereotypes and expanding their global historical perspectives. Such an endeavor would not only foster critical thinking but also emphasize the importance of diverse representation in historical discourse.
3. Rani Lakshmibai
The Queen of the Maratha-ruled state of Jhansi in North India, Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Her courage in the face of British colonialism has made her an enduring symbol of resistance in India.
Rani Lakshmibai’s legacy is more than just her role in the 1857 revolt; it’s a story of resilience, leadership, and defiance against oppressive forces.
Widowed at a young age and faced with the annexation of her kingdom through the British policy of Doctrine of Lapse, she refused to cede Jhansi to the British.
Skilled in both sword fighting and strategic warfare, she led her army into battle, breaking the conventions of her time, which dictated a secluded life for royal women. Her commitment to her land and people, even at the cost of her life, left an indelible mark on Indian history.
For students, penning a biography about Rani Lakshmibai would be a deep dive into the intricate dynamics of colonial India and the spirited individuals who resisted foreign dominance.
By exploring her life, students would get an opportunity to understand the broader sociopolitical context of the era and witness the potent effect of female leadership against daunting odds.
Writing about her would spotlight the tales of unsung heroines and offer a unique lens to appreciate the diverse and rich tapestry of global resistance movements against colonial powers.
4. Nikola Tesla
While Edison gets much of the spotlight, Tesla’s innovations in the field of electricity were revolutionary. A Serbian-American inventor, his story is one of genius, rivalry, and vision. Nikola Tesla was not just an inventor; he was a visionary who imagined a world powered by alternating current, which is the foundation of modern electrical power systems today.
Despite facing numerous challenges, including a fierce professional rivalry with Edison, Tesla’s unwavering belief in his discoveries led him to introduce inventions like the Tesla coil, wireless communication, and even plans for free electricity for all.
Students delving into Tesla’s biography would uncover a man’s life driven by curiosity and dedication, often working against prevailing norms and facing numerous setbacks.
Writing about Tesla provides an opportunity to understand innovation’s nature, persistence’s importance, and genius’s complexities.
It’s a story of how a singular vision can change the world, making Tesla’s life a valuable lesson for aspiring young innovators and thinkers.
5. Malcolm X
A pivotal figure in the civil rights movement, Malcolm X’s transformation from a criminal to an influential leader makes his life story extraordinary. His biography provides a lens into racial dynamics and the fight for equality in the 20th century America.
Diving deeper into Malcolm X’s life offers students a firsthand look into the complexities of racial tensions, religious influence, and personal redemption.
By chronicling his journey, students can grasp the nuances of social change, the impact of personal evolution, and the power of voice in challenging systemic prejudices.
Writing a biography about Malcolm X isn’t just about understanding a historical figure; it’s about recognizing the transformative potential within every individual and the broader implications of such transformations on society.
One of the few female pharaohs of Egypt, Hatshepsut’s reign was marked by peace and architectural innovation. Her successful rule in a male-dominated society provides an early example of female leadership and its challenges.
Hatshepsut’s trailblazing role as a woman in a position of immense power challenges conventional narratives of ancient history. By undertaking the task of writing her biography, students delve into a unique intersection of gender, leadership, and ancient civilization.
They uncover the strategies and nuances Hatshepsut employed to navigate and thrive in a patriarchal system. Her story is a testament to resilience and ingenuity and a reminder that history is often richer and more diverse than commonly portrayed.
7. Tim Cook
While he might not belong to the distant past like other figures on this list, Tim Cook’s influence in the modern tech era is undeniable. Taking over the reins from Steve Jobs as the CEO of Apple Inc., Cook faced the mammoth task of filling some of the largest shoes in the tech world.
Under his leadership, Apple has seen continuous growth, the introduction of new product lines, and an increased focus on sustainability and privacy.
His open advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and his coming-out story further solidified his position as an inspirational figure for young minds. Cook’s life is a testament to the value of perseverance, ethics, and embracing one’s true self in a rapidly evolving global landscape.
History is a fascinating subject, made even more so by the stories of individuals who have left their indelible mark on it.
Each of the figures mentioned above led lives filled with intrigue, challenge, and change. Encouraging students to delve into these biographies will broaden their horizons and inspire them with tales of perseverance, ingenuity, and conviction.
As future leaders, thinkers, and creators, students can only benefit from the wisdom of the past.