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Biographers - Overview

Historians research, analyze, and explain past events and people.

Historians study the causes and effects of past events. Historians study and consider many different views of events to understand the past.

Historians usually specialize in one area, such as:

  • A specific country or region
  • A particular time period
  • A particular field (social, intellectual, political, or diplomatic history)

They use many sources to gather information:

  • Government and institutional records
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Photographs
  • Films
  • Diaries
  • Letters
  • Interviews

Historians may supervise students or other workers who help them catalog the information they gather. They must determine if historic items are authentic.

Once historians have an understanding of an event, they may write a book or put together an exhibit for a historical society. They may also give talks to students and other groups.

Historians sometimes act as consultants. They may advise individuals, institutions, or organizations about areas of historical interest. For example, they may help a writer understand the events of a specific time.

Historians may also review books and exhibits put together by other historians. They verify that the information presented is accurate.

Other specialties in history include:

  • Biographers collect and write down a person's life history
  • Genealogists trace family histories
  • Archivists help identify, catalog, and preserve items in archives
  • Preservationists preserve or restore historic buildings and sites

Many historians are also college and university professors. They teach in addition to conducting research.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.