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Portal:History

The History Portal

Historia, 1892 painting by Nikolaos Gyzis

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

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The first page of William Barret Travis's letter, To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World is an open letter written on February 24, 1836, by William B. Travis, commander of the Texian forces at the Battle of the Alamo, to settlers in Mexican Texas. The letter is renowned as a "declaration of defiance" and a "masterpiece of American patriotism", and forms part of the history education of Texas schoolchildren.

On February 23, the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas had been besieged by Mexican forces led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Fearing that his small group of men could not withstand an assault, Travis wrote this letter seeking reinforcements and supplies from supporters. The letter closes with Travis's vow of "Victory or Death!", an emotion which has been both praised and derided by historians.

The letter was initially entrusted to courier Albert Martin, who carried it to the town of Gonzales some seventy miles away. Martin added several postscripts to encourage men to reinforce the Alamo, and then handed the letter to Launcelot Smithers. Smithers added his own postscript and delivered the letter to its intended destination, San Felipe de Austin. Local publishers printed over 700 copies of the letter. It also appeared in the two main Texas newspapers and was eventually printed throughout the United States and Europe. Partially in response to the letter, men from throughout Texas and the United States began to gather in Gonzales. Between 32 and 90 of them reached the Alamo before it fell; the remainder formed the nucleus of the army which eventually defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

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George W. Romney official portrait
George Wilcken Romney (July 8, 1907 – July 26, 1995) was an American businessman and Republican Party politician. He was chairman and president of American Motors Corporation from 1954 to 1962, the 43rd Governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1969 to 1973. He was the father of former Governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the husband of former Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Lenore Romney. Romney was born to American parents living in the Mormon colonies in Mexico; events during the Mexican Revolution forced his family to flee back to the United States when he was a child. The family lived in several states and ended up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they struggled during the Great Depression. Romney worked in a number of jobs, served as a Mormon missionary in the United Kingdom, and attended several colleges in the U.S. but did not graduate from any. In 1939 he moved to Detroit and joined the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, where he served as the chief spokesman for the automobile industry during World War II and headed a cooperative arrangement in which companies could share production improvements. He joined Nash-Kelvinator in 1948, and became the chief executive of its successor, American Motors Corporation, in 1954. There he turned around the struggling firm by focusing all efforts on the compact Rambler car. Romney mocked the products of the "Big Three" automakers as "gas-guzzling dinosaurs" and became one of the first high-profile, media-savvy business executives. Devoutly religious, he presided over the Detroit Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Charge of the Light Brigade2.jpg

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. The charge was the result of a miscommunication, and produced no decisive gains and very high casualties. It is best remembered as the subject of the famous poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

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October 20

Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa of Austria

Pauline Bonaparte (b. 1780) · Tom Petty (b. 1950) · Farooq Leghari (d. 2010)

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Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.

— Nelson Mandela, 1st South African President

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Russian Empire

"Russia—a state which contains all type of soil, from the warmest to the coldest, from the burning environs of Erivan to icy Lapland; which abounds in all the products required for the needs, comforts, and pleasures of life, in accordance with its present state of development—a whole world, self-sufficient, independent, absolute."
Mikhail Pogodin

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