What is History?

Selma to Montgomery, 1965

Studying history is about more than memorizing names and dates – in fact, it's not even a straightforward accounting of the things that came before us. Being a historian means actively probing the past, turning questions and problems over and over in an attempt to better understand. Sometimes it means unearthing new information - an unclassified document or newly discovered letter collection. Other times, it means reevaluating what we thought we knew by adding perspectives from marginalized groups, shifting our gaze, or asking fresh new questions. History is a living, changing thing, and we're all taking part in its evolution. Sound fun? Join us!  

History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities and our aspirations. - James Baldwin