History is the discovery, collection, organization, analysis and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean a continuous, typically chronological, record of important or public events or of a particular trend or institution. Scholars who write about history are called historians. It is a field of knowledge which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events, and it sometimes attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events. Historians debate the nature of history and its usefulness. This includes discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing “perspective” on the problems of the present. The stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the legends surrounding King Arthur) are usually classified as cultural heritage rather than the “disinterested investigation” needed by the discipline of history. Events of the past prior to written record are considered prehistory.
Amongst scholars, the fifth century BC Greek historian Herodotus is considered to be the “father of history”, and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, forms the foundations for the modern study of history. Their influence, along with other historical traditions in other parts of their world, have spawned many different interpretations of the nature of history which has evolved over the centuries and are continuing to change. The modern study of history has many different fields including those that focus on certain regions and those which focus on certain topical or thematic 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.