Memorize the Thirteen Original Colonies

The "stack and link" memory technique is one of many mnemonic systems designed to help the human mind remember a seemingly unrelated series of items. Mnemonic techniques take many forms but all involve prompts to aid memory by association, sometimes sounds are used, or in this case visual imagery and story. In this wikiHow we'll examine how the "stack and link" mnemonic can be used to memorize the thirteen original colonies, in the order in which they joined the Union. This example gives useful information for grade school, or for studying for a citizenship class.


  1. Stack vividly imagined objects like a tower.
  2. Choose objects to symbolize an item to be memorized.
  3. Link objects through action, exaggeration, humor.
    • Imagine a giant blue and white delicate chinaware plate, with a crack in it sitting on the ground, perhaps outside your school. (Delaware)
    • A large Fountain Pen has its tip stuck in the crack in the plate and ink is splashing out onto the plate. (Pennsylvania)
    • Spinning like a wind vane on the top cap end of the pen is a brown and white Jersey cow. (New Jersey)
    • George Washington is riding the cow like a rodeo rider, hanging on to the horns as it spins and flapping his tricorn hat. (Georgia)
    • One of the horns has cut his hand which is wrapped in a bloody bandage to connect the cut (Connecticut)
    • To help his cut hand, dripping down onto the bandage is massive block of ice. (Massachusetts)
    • Standing barefoot and shivering on top of the block of ice is Marilyn Monroe in a bikini. (Maryland)
    • She's holding above her head an electric trolley car reading "South Car Line" (South because she is wearing a bikini). (South Carolina)
    • A sizzling hot "new ham" is cooking on the sparking electric wires on top of the streetcar sputtering grease all over. (New Hampshire)
    • The ham is so new, that it is still wrapped in greasy paper which is smoking and catching fire from the sparks. The paper is the sheet music to "Carry me back to old Virginny". (Virginia)
    • Leaning against the greasy burning ham paper and starting to burn also, is the Empire State Building. (New York)
    • Driving crazily around the top of the Empire State Building and taking the corners on two wheels is another streetcar with a sign that says North Car Line. (North Carolina)
    • The conductor is a Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz singing, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." (Rhode Island)
  4. Or... you could remember...
  5. My
  6. New
  7. Monkey
  8. Can
  9. Rock
  10. New
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Just
  13. Doing
  14. Many
  15. Very
  16. North
  17. South
  18. Games


  • Picture as vividly as possible, using humor, exaggeration, color and motion.
  • Link adjacent items so that each affects the other -- the ice is dripping onto the bloody bandage, the blood is staining the ice. This way you can start anywhere in the list and move in either direction.
  • You can use this method to help you remember ordered lists, points for a presentation, or driving directions, for example.
  • Use all of your senses when reciting your stack. For this list, smell and hear the sizzling ham, have Marilyn move or dance or wobble precariously with her burdens.
  • Imagine familiar objects with a simple connections to what you're trying to remember.
  • See if you can remember most or all of the colonies after a night's sleep.
  • Go through your new linked stack several times, embellishing the details if needed, until you have the colonies memorized.


  • Do not describe your memory tricks to others and expect a happy reception -- most likely they will criticize the system as "too complicated"
  • Remember that it takes less time to visualize the objects and stack and link them then it does to read about them in this description, or to tell someone else about it.

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