History, Historiography, Historians

The word history is derived from the Latin historia meaning narrative of past event, account, tale or story. The synonymous word in German is geschichte means occurrence. The earliest known historical writing comes from the old kingdom of Egypt. One surviving fragment is the Palermo Stone (about 2600 B.C.) dealing with the annals of the early dynasties of Pharaohs.

History is the product of historians’ works in reconstructing the flow of events from the original written traces or sources into a narrative form. History is regarded a branch of humanities or as a social science because it is a mirror reflecting the past events. History in its broadest sense is the record of everything, which that ever happened. It is a philosophical teaching by example and bears a note of warning with both of its eyes that is geography and chronology. Sometimes it is all fact and not very seldom all fiction but still greater than truth. It is a voice for ever-sounding across the centuries, many oft-repeated laws of right and wrong. History is all time, all correct, record of the destiny of man on the tablets of eternity. History fosters a partnership with the dead, and the dead become alive through history. It also serves as a therapy for undue obsession with the present, and this may help to liberate one from being bound excessively by time.

John Huizings writes in Philosophy and History (London, 1936, p. 9) that, “History is the intellectual form in which a civilization renders account itself of its past.” B. Croce writes in History as the story of Liberty (London, 1941, p. 19) that, “History consists essentially in seeing the past through the eyes of the present and in the light of its problem, and that the main work of the historian is not to record but to evaluate; for if he does not evaluate, how can he know what is worth recording.”