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History

 

History is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

Historians write in the context of their own time, and with due regard to the current dominant ideas of how to interpret the past, and sometimes write to provide lessons for their own society. In the words of Benedetto Croce, "All history is contemporary history". History is facilitated by the formation of a "true discourse of past" through the production of narrative and analysis of past events relating to the human race. The modern discipline of history is dedicated to the institutional production of this discourse.

Philosophy of history is a branch of philosophy concerning the eventual significance, if any, of human history. Furthermore, it speculates as to a possible teleological end to its developmentthat is, it asks if there is a design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in the processes of human history. Philosophy of history should not be confused with historiography, which is the study of history as an academic discipline, and thus concerns its methods and practices, and its development as a discipline over time. Nor should philosophy of history be confused with the history of philosophy, which is the study of the development of philosophical ideas through time.

The Marxist theory of historical materialism theorises that society is fundamentally determined by the material conditions at any given time in other words, the relationships which people have with each other in order to fulfill basic needs such as feeding, clothing and housing themselves and their families. Overall, Marx and Engels claimed to have identified five successive stages of the development of these material conditions in Western Europe. Marxist historiography was once orthodoxy in the Soviet Union, but since the collapse of communism there in 1991, Mikhail Krom says it has been reduced to the margins of scholarship.

The history of religion has been a main theme for both secular and religious historians for centuries, and continues to be taught in seminaries and academe. Leading journals include Church History, The Catholic Historical Review, and History of Religions. Topics range widely from political and cultural and artistic dimensions, to theology and liturgy. This subject studies religions from all regions and areas of the world where humans have lived.

Although economic history has been well established since the late 19th century, in recent years academic studies have shifted more and more toward economics departments and away from traditional history departments. Business history deals with the history of individual business organizations, business methods, government regulation, labour relations, and impact on society. It also includes biographies of individual companies, executives, and entrepreneurs. It is related to economic history; Business history is most often taught in business schools.

Missouri Civil War Museum


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