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Glossary of history

This glossary of history is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to the study of history and its related fields and sub-disciplines, including both prehistory and the period of human history.


Index of history articles

History is the study of the past. When used as the name of a field of study, history refers to the study and interpretation of the record of humans, families, and societies as preserved primarily through written sources. This is a list of history topics covered on English Wikipedia:


Outline of history

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to history: History – discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented the beginning of recorded history.


Auxiliary sciences of history

Auxiliary sciences of history are scholarly disciplines which help evaluate and use historical sources and are seen as auxiliary for historical research. Many of these areas of study, classification and analysis were originally developed between the 16th and 19th centuries by antiquaries, and would then have been regarded as falling under the broad heading of antiquarianism. "History" was at that time regarded as a largely literary skill. However, with the spread of the principles of empirical source-based history championed by the Gottingen School of History in the late 18th century and later by Leopold von Ranke from the mid-19th century onwards, they have been increasingly regarded as falling within the skill-set of the trained historian. Auxiliary sciences of history include, but are not limited to: Prosopography, the investigation of a historical group of individuals through a collective study of their lives Genealogy, the study of family relationships Philology, the study of the language of historical sources Diplomatics, the study and textual analysis of historical documents Philately, the study of postage stamps Archaeology, the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture Codicology, the study of books as physical objects Sigillography, the study of seals Chorography, the study of regions and places Cliometrics, the systematic application of economic theory, econometric techniques, and other formal or mathematical methods to the study of history Phaleristics, the study of military orders, fraternities, and award items Epigraphy, the study of ancient inscriptions Numismatics, the study of coins Vexillology, the study of flags Heraldry, the study of armorial devices Onomastics, the study of proper names Chronology, the study of the sequence of past events Toponymy, the study of place-names Archival science, the study and theory of creating and maintaining archives Archaeography, the study of ancient historical documents antique writings Palaeography, the study of old handwriting



A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a persons life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a persons experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae, a biography presents a subjects life story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may include an analysis of the subjects personality. Biographical works are usually non-fiction, but fiction can also be used to portray a persons life. One in-depth form of biographical coverage is called legacy writing. Works in diverse media, from literature to film, form the genre known as biography. An authorized biography is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subjects heirs. An autobiography is written by the person himself or herself, sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.


List of historical classifications

Pre-Columbian North America Central America Mesoamerica Latin America South America Classical antiquity Caribbean Late Antiquity Prehistoric Europe History of Europe Modern Europe Early modern period Eurasia Middle Ages East Asia Ancient Near East Central Asia Middle East Southeast Asia South Asia Australasia Pacific Islands


Historical figure

A historical figure is a famous person in history, such as Catherine the Great, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, or Napoleon. The significance of such figures in human progress has been debated. Some think they play a crucial role, while others say they have little impact on the broad currents of thought and social change. The concept is generally used in the sense that the person really existed in the past, as opposed to being legendary. However, the legends that can grow up around historical figures may be hard to distinguish from fact. Sources are often incomplete and may be inaccurate, particularly those from early periods of history. Without a body of personal documents, the more subtle aspects of personality of a historical figure can only be deduced. With historical figures who were also religious figures attempts to separate fact from belief may be controversial. In education, presenting information as if it were being told by a historical figure may give it greater impact. Since classical times, students have been asked to put themselves in the place of a historical figure as a way of bringing history to life. Historical figures are often represented in fiction, where fact and fancy are combined. In earlier traditions, before the rise of a critical historical tradition, authors took less care to be as accurate when describing what they knew of historical figures and their actions, interpolating imaginary elements intended to serve a moral purpose to events: such is the Monk of St. Galls anecdotal account of Charlemagne, De Carolo Magno. More recently there has been a tendency once again for authors to freely depart from the "facts" when they conflict with their creative goals.


Historical significance

Historical significance is a historiographical concept that defines and influences the social remembrance of past events. Historians consider knowledge of dates and events the primary content of history, or "first-order knowledge". They class historical significance as an aspect of the study of primary content, deeming it secondary or "second-order knowledge". However, the way dates and events are chosen and described is often used to assign significance, without acknowledging bias. As Winston Churchill and Michel Foucault have said: "History is written by the victors".