A Reflection: On History, its Importance, and its Related Professions
Updated: Sep 9
While history can be plainly defined as the study of the past or even just a catalogue of events that have happened, it can entail a plethora of different aspects and perspectives. When one thinks about history, it can generally be said that dates, names, numbers, and the like come to mind. Yet, the breadth of history is so much more than simply figures to be memorized. Cultural, political, and religious viewpoints may be considered when thinking of ideas and philosophies, technologies and advancements, even mannerisms and behaviors, to name a few. It can even be said that history is an exclusive witness to all affairs, especially as relating to humankind.
With this in mind, why then, is it important to study history? Without history, without a record of all we have experienced, witnessed, or developed, we may be condemned to ignorance. How can we hope to progress if we do not actively choose to be enlightened? In being unfamiliar to the past, we may be depriving ourselves from an established foundation from which to learn. Thus, it is paramount that histories be studied thoroughly in order to preserve narratives, understand decisions made and implemented change, and to learn from prior mistakes. Additionally, through the analysis of different chronicles, current and future students have the opportunity to comprehend varying societies and be inspired in their choices. Perhaps even more cardinally critical to the basic nature of humankind is the innate sense of identity that can be gained by studying this subject.
Consequently, if one chooses to make this remarkable topic and all that it necessitates the focus of their life's work, numerous paths are purportedly available to select from. Historians may elect to serve as educators, researchers, communicators, information managers, advocates, or businessmen, among many positions.
Irish historian and classical scholar, J. B. Bury once said that history is "simply a science, no less and no more."(1) Yet, it is my opinion that history has several facets that contribute to its nature. Furthermore, it is important to study the topic so as to not lose ourselves and all we have done as well as to aid in looking to the future. I aim to encompass these standards and beliefs professionally as an analyst and educator to all who care to be illuminated.
(1) Goldstein, Doris. "J.B. Bury's Philosophy of history: A Reappraisal." The American Historical Review 82, 4 (October 1977): 897 (896-919). doi: 10.1086/ahr/82.4.896