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Historians do research for government agencies, museums, private businesses and archive departments so they can write about people and events from the past. Some write about a specific person, culture, society or event and others collect data and write about history as a whole. Historians must validate their findings by cross referencing their sources and using authentic documentation to back their content.
Night at the Museum
Historians often work at public or privately owned museums and help curators and owners create exhibits that are well-researched, interesting and visually appealing. Visitors don't always take time to read lengthy descriptions, so historians must grab their attention with catchy tidbits and pinpointed facts. Artifacts, clothing items, preserved letters, antique furniture, weapons and photographs are appealing museum items that require intriguing, factual descriptions to explain their historical significance. Historians draft content for museum labels and plaques and ensure the information is accurate.
Research, Research, Reseach
Most historians spend a majority of their time doing research. They often use multiple sources to ensure their research is reliable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they use archived editions of local and national newspapers, government records, published interviews, private diaries, old letters, collectors items and unpublished manuscripts to validate and authenticate their findings. Employers might hire historians to author books, write articles for smaller publications, archive historical documents, update information on historical websites or help with government policy needs.
Some clubs, organizations and historical societies have a historian position, just as they might have a president, vice president, secretary or treasurer. Historians of social clubs and nonprofit organizations often hold unpaid leadership positions. Their primary job is to keep track of activities and achievements associated with the organization. They might take pictures or prepare written reports so the organization has documentation of events. According to the Junior Civitan website, the historian also prepares nominations and awards for members' service throughout the year. Historians of clubs or organizations are the primary record keepers.
No Need For a Soap Box
It is common for historians to have public speaking engagements. They often host seminars and presentations once they have completed their research on a particular person, event, philosophy, geographic location or culture. According to the BLS, they might explain facts about historic buildings, religious groups and famous battlegrounds. Some serve as tour guides at private and public locations, such as libraries, residences of famous historical figures and national monuments. Historians often host educational programs at schools, colleges and libraries to teach the public about local history and history of national significance.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.
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