Updated: Jul 8, 2019
Historians typically do the following:
· Gather historical data from various sources, including archives, books, and artifacts
· Analyze and interpret historical information to determine its authenticity and significance
· Trace historical developments in a particular field
· Engage with the public through educational programs and presentations
· Archive or preserve materials and artifacts in museums, visitor centers, and historic sites
· Provide advice or guidance on historical topics and preservation issues
· Write reports, articles, and books on findings and theories
Historians conduct research and analysis for governments, businesses, individuals, nonprofits, historical associations, and other organizations. They use a variety of sources in their work, including government and institutional records, newspapers, photographs, interviews, films, and unpublished manuscripts, such as personal diaries, letters, and other primary source documents. They also may process, catalog, and archive these documents and artifacts.
Many historians present and interpret history in order to inform or build upon public knowledge of past events. They often trace and build a historical profile of a particular person, area, idea, organization, or event. Once their research is complete, they present their findings through articles, books, reports, exhibits, websites, and educational programs.
In government, some historians conduct research to provide information on specific events or groups. Many write about the history of a particular government agency, activity, or program, such as a military operation or space missions. For example, they may research the people and events related to Operation Desert Storm.
In historical associations, historians may work with archivists, curators, and museum workers to preserve artifacts and explain the historical significance of a wide variety of subjects, such as historic buildings, religious groups, and battlegrounds. Workers with a background in history also may go into one of these occupations.