Historians study events, political systems, ideas, and people from past eras by researching and interpreting various historical documents and sources. They approach this task by first gathering data from various sources, such as ancient artifacts, items from excavation sites, and historical books and archives. From there, they must be able to analyze this evidence, determine its authenticity, and make hypotheses about its significance. With these hypotheses, they begin to track historical developments in a relevant field in search of support for their projections. If they are able to come to a conclusion, historians will usually be required to write reports, journals, and/or books regarding their findings and theories. They may also arrange to have their findings presented on websites and in exhibits in museums or visitor centers.
Though this is the essential aspect of historians' work, many participate in other history-related endeavors. For example, they may give presentations or assist with educational programs. In other cases, they may be more concerned with the process of preservation, and they will accordingly give advice on this topic. Historians may be employed in a variety of industries. Over half of American historians are employed in government sectors, but they may also work for museums, nonprofits, historical societies, or research organizations. Other times, they may work independently as consultants.
Historians usually work during regular business hours, though this depends on the nature of their employer, as self-employed historians can set their own schedule. Those employed by museums work on weekends. Their work is typically indoors and nonphysical, but some historians may conduct practical work in outdoor field sites. Most positions require a master's degree or PhD in history or a related field.
Glean historical information from physical, electronic, and in-person sources.
Gather, organize, and present research data in useful context to communicate value to intended audiences.
Research, evaluate, and document events of the past that instill value to the area of focus.
Present findings to individuals and groups through publications and exhibits.