Memory involves recalling and retrieving information. Recalling general information that affects your daily life may be simple for most healthy individuals. Remembering facts such as names and dates from history, however, may be more challenging. Learning and using memory strategies can improve your ability to remember such information.
Make a Rhyme
Repeating the information in a rhythmic pattern such as a poem or song may help improve memory for dates and names from history. Well-known examples are the "Remember, remember the fifth of November" rhyme that commemorates the November 5, 1605 hanging of British citizen Guy Fawkes -- who was found with several dozen barrels of gunpowder -- which was believed to be a plot to overthrow the British government. In the United States, schoolchildren sing, "In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" to remember when Columbus discovered America. Depending on the amount of information you need to remember, make separate rhymes for each piece of information -- such as one name and date -- or group chunks of information into a longer rhyme.
Associating new information with other information can improve recall. Use visual images, sounds, smells or previously learned facts to associate with the new information. For example, if you need to remember the name Annie Oakley, you might repeat her name while visualizing your aunt Annie standing under an oak tree. If you need to remember that she was born Aug. 13, 1860, picture her holding up a calendar showing the month of August with the number 13 written in red and say to yourself "Annie is 18 going on 60."
Method of Loci
The method of loci involves connecting names or dates to items or activities in a certain location. For example, if you need to remember the names of the presidents in order, imagine walking to your front door and seeing a dollar bill stuck inside the door, which triggers your memory of George Washington. Picture John Adams and television's Addams Family opening the door for you and Thomas Jefferson sitting on your couch beside George Jefferson. Continue throughout the house, making associations with the presidents.
Use Multiple Senses
To store information in long-term memory, use multiple senses when reviewing the information. Write down the information, read it and say it aloud. Try writing the information in order, such as chronologically or alphabetically. Review the information repeatedly to commit it to long-term memory.
Dee Willis began writing in 2011 and currently writes for various websites on such topics as stress management and mental health. Willis has a Master of Science in counseling from Freed-Hardeman University.