Historian

Research and Development

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Clerical or OrganisingScientific or AnalyticSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Historians research events, people, technologies, ideas and other topics from the past.

They collect data from a wide variety of sources, which can be cross-checked with other sources to check accuracy and find discrepancies.  FutureGrowthModerate

Historians interpret this information to suggest theories and draw conclusions about the subject. Their findings can be published through reports, books, journal articles, in the media, presented as lectures or form part of a museum exhibition.

Many historians also undertake teaching duties at universities or schools. They may also act as an adviser or consultant to governments and other organisations, such as churches, private businesses or individuals.

Specialisations: Art Historian, Cultural Historian, Economic Historian, Geographical Historian.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

An historian needs:

  • thorough investigative and research skills

  • the ability to analyse and interpret information

  • good communication skills

  • an interest in human behaviour, culture and society

  • an enquiring mind

Australian map
(Source: Timetoast)

Duties and Tasks

  • Assembles historical data by consulting sources of information such as historical indexes and catalogues, archives, court records, diaries, newspaper files and other materials.

  • Organises, authenticates, evaluates and interprets historical, political, sociological, anthropological and linguistic data.

  • Undertakes historical and cultural research into human activity, and prepares and presents research findings

Working conditions

In Australia, the majority of historians work in the metropolitan regions, in offices, libraries, museums or from their own homes. Some historians may occasionally travel to universities, libraries and museums around the world to examine rare data sources, study sites of interest first hand or attend conferences. They generally work regular business hours, though this may vary depending on specific projects.

Tools and technologies

Historians collect information from a wide variety of data sources including manuscripts, diaries, letters, artefacts and newspaper, magazine and journal articles. Information sources are often located in archives or libraries, and historians will need to be familiar with referencing systems to locate information related to the subject they are researching.

Some historians may also conduct interviews with people, often recording them. They also use computers and word processing software to write-up their findings.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a professional historian you usually need to study history at university, generally to honours level. Most historians also hold additional postgraduate qualifications, usually at Masters or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level.

Did You Know? 


Creative Spirits

"Australian Aboriginal history is the only history that grows both ways—forward into the present and backwards into the past as new scientific methods indicate that archaeological sites are much older than originally thought."
(Source: Creative Spirits)

 Investigate this timeline to research the long history of Australia's Indigenous Peoples

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