Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, early 19th century Germany, The Relevance of Secular Studies, Collected Writings 7:97 (From an essay available on-line at http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/relevance_secular_studies_jewish_education.pdf)
Here, then, we have a people that emerged from the course of world history, that was placed into the midst of the nations to advance the goals of world history, and that was endowed with historical vision. Should not the sons of such a people understand that historical studies of the development of nations are truly not superfluous, but that they are, in fact, virtually indispensable? Will the sons of the Jewish people even begin to understand that ancient vision defining the missions of the three basic national prototypes of mankind if they know nothing about the influence of the Yaphetic-Hellenic spirit on the civilization of other nations, an influence that endures to this day?
And then here is Rabbi Chaim Berlin, late 19th century Russia, writing in the foreword to his father the Netziv's Meromei Sadeh regarding his father's approach to biography (not the same as history, perhaps, but I think close enough for our purposes):
באזני שמעתי מפיו הקדוש, בעת שהגיע לעיניו תולדות רע״א ז״ל... שנדפס בברלין בשנת תרכ״ב, לא רצה להביט עליו אף במעוף קל, ואמר שכל זה בכלל האמור בירושלמי אין עושין נפשות לצדיקים שדבריהם הן זכרונם, ומה מני יהלוך לדעת יום הולדתו או יום פטירתו, או תואר פרצוף תמונתו אם כה היה או כה, והעיקר לשום עין ולב על דברי תורתוWith my own ears I heard from his holy mouth, when the biography of Rabbi Akiva Eiger was brought before his eyes, published for the first time in Berlin in 1862: He did not want to look at it for so much as an instant, saying, "All of this is within the Jerusalem Talmud's statement, 'We do not construct monuments for the righteous; their words are their memorial.' What will come of my knowing the day of his birth or death, or whether his face looked thus or thus? The essence is to put our eye and heart to the words of his teachings."
I think Rav Hirsch (source 1) views the study of world history as important to the fulfillment of the Jew's mission as Jew. But what do you make of the Netziv's view (source 2) - Is it a rejection of the study of history, or is it simply a different derech in studying history? And is it depersonalizing, or more personalizing?