- This article refers to those who study the subject of history. For medical uses of the term historian refer to Historian (medical).
A historian is a person who studies history. The term is often reserved for people whose work is recognized in academia, particularly those who have acquired graduate degrees in the discipline. The process of historical analysis is a difficult one, involving investigation and analysis of competing ideas, facts, and purported facts to create coherent narratives that explain "what happened" and "why or how it happened."
Since the 1960s the academic discipline has undergone multiple revolutions in which the number of areas commonly recognized as worthy of historical analysis in academia have increased enormously. Whereas previously western history had often focused on the history of great men, wars, diplomacy, large ideas/science, and politics, from the 1960s onward topics such as popular culture, mass culture, and the lives of ordinary people.
Historians have also begun to investigate histories of ideas surrounding various categories of people, such as women, racial minorities, or disabled people (for instance, a historian might study the construction of ideas about disabled people, and the results thereof, perhaps in a specific historical setting, such as Nazi Germany).
There is currently a great deal of controversy within the western academic discipline of history regarding the possibility and desirability of neutrality in historical scholarship.