History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians
Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time in order to facilitate the study and analysis of history. This results in descriptive abstractions that provide convenient terms for periods of time with relatively stable characteristics. However, determining the precise beginning and ending to any "period" is often arbitrary. It has changed over time in history.
Particular geographic locations can form the basis of historical study, for example, continents, countries and cities. Understanding why historic events took place is important. To do this, historians often turn to geography. Weather patterns, the water supply, and the landscape of a place all affect the lives of the people who live there. For example, to explain why the ancient Egyptians developed a successful civilization, studying the geography of Egypt is essential. Egyptian civilization was built on the banks of the Nile River, which flooded each year, depositing soil on its banks. The rich soil could help farmers grow enough crops to feed the people in the cities. That meant everyone did not have to farm, so some people could perform other jobs that helped develop the civilization.
Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing local and international relationships. The essential subjects of military history study are the causes of war, the social and cultural foundations, military doctrine on each side, the logistics, leadership, technology, strategy, and tactics used, and how these changed over time. On the other hand, Just War Theory explores the moral dimensions of warfare, and to better limit the destructive reality caused by war, seeks to establish a doctrine of military ethics.
The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious experiences and ideas. This period of religious history begins with the invention of writing about 5,200 years ago (3200 BCE). The prehistory of religion involves the study of religious beliefs that existed prior to the advent of written records. One can also study comparative religious chronology through a timeline of religion.
Cultural history combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past matter, encompassing the continuum of events (occurring in succession and leading from the past to the present and even into the future) pertaining to a culture.
Cultural history records and interprets past events involving human beings through the social, cultural, and political milieu of or relating to the arts and manners that a group favors. Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) helped found cultural history as a discipline. Cultural history studies and interprets the record of human societies by denoting the various distinctive ways of living built up by a group of people under consideration. Cultural history involves the aggregate of past cultural activity, such as ceremony, class in practices, and the interaction with locales
Diplomatic history deals with the history of international relations between states. Diplomatic history can be different from international relations in that the former can concern itself with the foreign policy of one state while the latter deals with relations between two or more states. Diplomatic history tends to be more concerned with the history of diplomacy, but international relations concern more with current events and creating a model intended to shed explanatory light on international politics.
Economic history is the study of economies or economic phenomena of the past. Analysis in economic history is undertaken using a combination of historical methods, statistical methods and the application of economic theory to historical situations and institutions. The topic includes financial and business history and overlaps with areas of social history such as demographic and labor history. The quantitative—in this case, econometric—study of economic history is also known as cliometrics.
Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time, emphasising the active role nature plays in influencing human affairs and vice versa.
Environmental history emerged in the United States out of the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and much of its impetus still stems from present-day global environmental concerns. The field was founded on conservation issues but has broadened in scope to include more general social and scientific history and may deal with cities, population or sustainable development. As all history occurs in the natural world, environmental history tends to focus on particular time-scales, geographic regions, or key themes. It is also a strongly multidisciplinary subject that draws widely on both the humanities and natural science.
World history or global history (not to be confused with diplomatic, transnational or international history) is a field of historical study that emerged as a distinct academic field in the 1980s. It examines history from a global perspective. It is not to be confused with comparative history, which, like world history, deals with the history of multiple cultures and nations, but does not do so on a global scale. World history looks for common patterns that emerge across all cultures. World historians use a thematic approach, with two major focal points: integration (how processes of world history have drawn people of the world together) and difference (how patterns of world history reveal the diversity of the human experiences).
A people's history is a type of historical work which attempts to account for historical events from the perspective of common people. A people's history is the history of the world that is the story of mass movements and of the outsiders. Individuals or groups not included in the past in other type of writing about history are the primary focus, which includes the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the poor, the nonconformists, and the otherwise forgotten people. The authors are typically on the left and have a socialist model in mind, as in the approach of the History Workshop movement in Britain in the 1960s.
Intellectual history and the history of ideas emerged in the mid-20th century, with the focus on the intellectuals and their books on the one hand, and on the other the study of ideas as disembodied objects with a career of their own.
Gender history is a sub-field of History and Gender studies, which looks at the past from the perspective of gender. It is in many ways, an outgrowth of women's history. Despite its relatively short life, Gender History (and its forerunner Women's History) has had a rather significant effect on the general study of history. Since the 1960s, when the initially small field first achieved a measure of acceptance, it has gone through a number of different phases, each with its own challenges and outcomes. Although some of the changes to the study of history have been quite obvious, such as increased numbers of books on famous women or simply the admission of greater numbers of women into the historical profession, other influences are more subtle.
Public history describes the broad range of activities undertaken by people with some training in the discipline of history who are generally working outside of specialized academic settings. Public history practice has quite deep roots in the areas of historic preservation, archival science, oral history, museum curatorship, and other related fields. The term itself began to be used in the U.S. and Canada in the late 1970s, and the field has become increasingly professionalized since that time. Some of the most common settings for public history are museums, historic homes and historic sites, parks, battlefields, archives, film and television companies, and all levels of government.