Types of Historians

Types of Historians
History and Historians
History is not the study of textbooks. History is a true story about the past as determined by its research
into primary sources of information. It is divided into prehistory, the time before written records, and
history, the time when written records existed.
All historians study "artifacts" to develop these true stories. The types of artifacts and the way they are
obtained help separate historians into specific groups. There are four major types of historians:
Historians, Archaeologists, Anthropologists and Paleontologists.
Historians study written records of history to find evidence to build an interpretation of certain events
or time periods. They are then able to answer the questions such as what happened, who was involved,
why, etc.
Most historians develop a specialty or a specific area of study in which they are experts. These
specialties can be anything; some examples might be a specific time period, a specific event, a specific
person or group of people over time, a country or region. For example, a historian could specialize in
U.S. history with a particular focus on the institution of slavery. Another example of a specialization
could be Middle Eastern history with a focus on the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent. Historians may
also specialize in history type, such as the history of women or science or tools. Even though historians
specialize, all have a strong general base of history knowledge so that they can place their specialty in
the flow of all history.
Over 70% of all historians work in colleges or universities, teaching courses, working with student help
to conduct research, and writing articles and/or books to share their research with other historians.
Those historians who do not work in colleges or universities may work as archivists, helping collect and
preserve important historic documents.
Archaeologists study human prehistory and history through artifacts and structures. They focus both on
prehistory, times before there were written records, but also on history, the times when there were
written records, adding evidence used to understand or interpret the written records
Archaeologists work in the field, excavating artifacts and studying historical structures. They also work as
as university professors or at museums. Those who work at museums are called curators or archivists
and they collect, preserve, organize, analyze, and interpret large collections of evidence brought in from
the field. They also plan displays for the collections for the public and community.
Anthropologists are a scientists and their work is divided into three different sub-fields.
Biological anthropologists study the development of the hominids, different forms of early humans.
Biological anthropologists use fossil evidence to gather data on these hominids, for instance information
on how certain physical structures, such as the skull or the opposable thumb, may have developed and
the impact of these on the species. They also use fossil evidence to study when and how some human
behaviors may have developed.
Cultural anthropologists study how human societies functioned, the behaviors, practices, and formal
policies of specific groups of people.
Linguistic anthropologists research language development in different regions and times throughout
A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms (plants, animals, fungi,
bacteria and other single-celled living things), and is interested in knowing the history of organic life on earth. A
paleontologist works out the relationships between extinct plants and animals and their living relatives today. They
study fossils, using them to put together pieces of history that made up the earth and life on it. Fossils are defined
as any trace of a past life form, and most fossils are several thousands to several millions or billions of years old.
Typical things a paleontologist does:
 determines location of fossils
 uses tools to excavate layers of sedimentary rock to locate fossils
 gathers information on the fossils (age, location, etc)
 identifies time period of fossils found
 evaluates any discoveries and compares new data to existing data
Note the differences
Paleontologists - study all life forms, and all types of organisms
Archaeologists - study objects, or artifacts, that have been made by humans
Anthropologists - study ancient cultures, societies, ways of life, and languages
Historians - study the written records of humans