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What is History & Historical analysis (Fact & Evidence)

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Jul 10, 2022 , Updated: Jul 17, 2022 · 4 min read

History is the study of the past - specifically the people, societies, events and problems of the past - as well as our attempts to understand them.

It is a narration of the events which have happened among mankind, including an account of the rise and fall of nations, as well as of other great changes which have affected the political and social condition of the human race.

Herodotus (484-425 BC), a 5th-century BC Greek historian, is often considered the "father of history" in the Western tradition, although he has also been criticized as the "father of lies".

However, his contemporary Thucydides (460 BC–400 BC) is credited with having first approached history with a well-developed historical method in his work the History of the Peloponnesian War.

Historians seek knowledge of the past using historical sources such as written documents, oral accounts, art and material artifacts, and ecological markers.

Archeology is especially helpful in unearthing buried sites and objects, which contribute to the study of history.

All events that are remembered and preserved in some authentic form constitute the historical record.

Historians write in the context of their own time, and with due regard to the current dominant ideas of how to interpret the past, and sometimes write to provide lessons for their own society.

The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation.

History and prehistory

By "prehistory", historians mean the recovery of knowledge of the past in an area where no written records exist, or where the writing of a culture is not understood.

By studying painting, drawings, carvings, and other artifacts, some information can be recovered even in the absence of a written record.

The line of demarcation between prehistoric and historical times is crossed when people cease to live only in the present, and become consciously interested both in their past and in their future.

History begins with the handing down of tradition; and tradition means the carrying of the habits and lessons of the past into the future.

Records of the past begin to be kept for the benefit of future generations.


Historiography can refer to how history has been produced: the story of the development of methodology and practices (for example, the move from short-term biographical narrative toward long-term thematic analysis).

Secondly, it can refer to what has been produced: a specific body of historical writing (for example, "medieval historiography during the 1960s" means "Works of medieval history written during the 1960s").

Thirdly, it may refer to why history is produced: the philosophy of history.

However, the discipline of historiography was first established in the 5th century BC with the Histories of Herodotus, the founder of historiography.

The Roman statesman Cato the Elder produced the first history in Latin, the Origines, in the 2nd century BC.

The groundwork for professional historiography in East Asia was established by the Han dynasty court historian known as Sima Qian (145-90 BC), author of the "Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji)".

In the West, historians developed modern methods of historiography in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in France and Germany.

In the 20th century, academic historians focused less on epic nationalistic narratives, which often tended to glorify the nation or great men, to more objective and complex analyses of social and intellectual forces.

Today, most historians begin their research process in the archives, on either a physical or digital platform.

The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then to write history.

There were historical traditions and sophisticated use of historical method in ancien and medieval China.

Historical analysis

Historical analysis is a method of the examination of evidence in coming to an understanding of the past.

Historians use the historical method to gather evidence of past events, evaluate the evidence, and interpret what the evidence reveals about things that occurred in history.

Historical Evidence

Historical evidence is anything directly related to some event, person, or period of the past.

It reveals information that might help us better understand what happened previous to our examination.

The first thing a historian does is search for and collect a variety of evidence concerning the specific history that they are studying.

When they do so, they must consider which evidence is coming from primary sources and which is coming from secondary sources.

Primary sources were "eyewitnesses" to the event, meaning that they were a part of the actual history.

Secondary sources have come to us through some kind of intermediary.

They are not directly associated with the history we are studying, so they were not an "eyewitness" to history.

Historical Fact

A historical fact is a fact about the past.

It answers the very basic question, "What happened?" Yet beyond merely listing the events in chronological order, historians try to discover why events happened, what circumstances contributed to their cause, what subsequent effects they had, and how they were interpreted.

In an effort to get at what really happened, historians compare stories from a wide variety of sources, searching for common elements that corroborate a plausible account.

Accounts are compared with archeological findings.

Neither history nor archeology is an exact science, but technique and technology improvements over the years have enabled them both to make stronger and stronger cases for their accounts of the past.

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