What is History?

History comes from the Greek word “Historia” meaning “Knowledge got from enquiry or investigation“.

We can thank the Greeks for many inventions and ideas they have given us as many of them are responsible for the foundation of our understanding today! In terms of historians “The Father of History” was a man named Herodotus, a Greek who wrote about 2,500 years ago.

How do we explain History?

Have you ever wondered why there are World Wars, different languages, different inventions or ideologies? It’s because of history! World Wars don’t just spontaneously erupt out of thin air! There is reason for everything in life and history is the study of that reason. History is the story of the past. It is the story of people and places, why and how they worked, how did they organise themselves. History provides an explanation for questions such as these so we today can learn from both their achievements and mistakes. You could say it tells us about the causes and results.


A source is a piece of evidence that allows historians to piece together a story

There are 3 types of sources:

1. Written: Documents, Newspapers

2. Visual: Photographs, Paintings, Buildings, Objects

3. Oral: Interviews, Memories, Recordings

Ideally, historians will use a wide variety of sources to back up the story they are trying to create. Why do you think it would be better to obtain a wide variety of sources rather than a narrow variety?

It’s an easy answer…by having a wide variety of evidence or sources it is more likely that the story will be more accurate.

Where can we find sources?

Sources are gathered and stored mainly in Archives and Museums.

An Archive collects mainly documentary (written) sources

A Museum collects mainly objects for study and display

A huge amount of historical evidence can also be stored on microfilm or microfiche which can be enlarged on special computers. The digital age has also brought the advances in DVD and Internet which are now one of the leading sources of evidence due to the fact that they can store vast volumes of information.

For more about how historians work, check it out on this site under the topic “Work of the Historian”


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