What do Historians Do?

Historians study people, events, ideas, cultures, and change all over the world from ancient times to the present.

To understand what happened and why, historians find and analyze primary sources–things that people created and used in that time and place.

Most of the time, historians work with written, spoken, or visual primary sources, but they also analyze clothing, tools, technologies, art, and artifacts.

Many primary sources are kept in archives and libraries, where history professionals can protect and preserve them. Archives also make it possible for many people to see primary sources, rather than keeping them a secret.

Historians are always asking new questions and finding new primary sources. They interview people about their lives and experiences–this is called “oral history.” Historians also help people to gather the primary sources that record their community’s history. 

They share what they discover about the past in books, websites, videos, and more. Some historians work in archives, museums, or historic sites. Some are teachers who work in schools, colleges, and universities.

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