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History vs. Historiography: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 29, 2024
History is the study of past events, while historiography refers to the methods and principles of studying and writing about history.

Key Differences

History is the record of past events, societies, and civilizations, exploring what happened and why. Historiography, on the other hand, analyzes how history is written, including the biases, perspectives, and methodologies of historians.
History focuses on the narrative of events, such as wars, political movements, and cultural shifts. Historiography examines the interpretation and presentation of these events, questioning how historians' perspectives shape our understanding of history.
In studying history, one learns about specific events, figures, and timelines. Studying historiography, however, involves understanding how these historical narratives are constructed, including the use of sources and evidence.
History often aims to present a chronological account of the past. Historiography delves into the philosophy of history, exploring how the context, society, and time of the historian influence their writing.
While history is about the content of the past, historiography is meta-history, a study of how history itself is studied and written.

Comparison Chart


Past events, societies, and civilizations
Methods and principles of studying and writing history


Narrative of events
Analysis of historical narratives and methodologies

Study Aim

Learning about specific historical events
Understanding the construction of historical narratives


Often chronological
Examines interpretation and biases


Content of the past
Meta-history, study of history writing


Learning about World War II
Analyzing how World War II has been written about

History and Historiography Definitions


It encompasses the recorded events and experiences of human societies.
The history of the Civil Rights Movement is essential to understand current social dynamics.


Historiography is the study of historical writing and methodologies.
Historiography helps us understand how our perception of the American Revolution has evolved.


History is a narrative of human activities throughout time.
The history of art reflects changes in society over centuries.


It involves analyzing how historians interpret and record history.
In historiography, we examine different interpretations of the Industrial Revolution.


History is the study of past events and their impact.
The history of ancient Rome fascinates many scholars.


Historiography is the critique and methodology of historical research.
Good historiography requires critical examination of sources used in historical research.


It's a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes.
A history book on the French Revolution details the sequence of events leading to the uprising.


It's about understanding the biases and perspectives in historical writing.
Historiography reveals the biases in writings about the Cold War era.


History involves analyzing the causes and effects of past occurrences.
In history classes, we often discuss the causes of World War I.


Historiography explores the philosophy and history of history itself.
Studying the historiography of ancient civilizations can reveal much about our current understanding of them.


A chronological record of events, as of the life or development of a people or institution, often including an explanation of or commentary on those events
A history of the Vikings.


The principles, theories, or methodology of scholarly historical research and presentation.


A formal written account of related natural phenomena
A history of volcanoes.


The writing of history based on a critical analysis, evaluation, and selection of authentic source materials and composition of these materials into a narrative subject to scholarly methods of criticism.


A body of historical literature.


The writing of history; a written history.


(uncountable) The study of the discipline and practice of history and the writings of past historians.


The art of employment of an historiographer.


Do different cultures have different historiographies?

Absolutely, as historiography is influenced by cultural perspectives and historical contexts.

What challenges do historians face in writing history?

They often deal with incomplete records, biased sources, and the need to interpret complex events.

How does historiography address these challenges?

It provides tools and frameworks for critically assessing and interpreting historical sources and narratives.

How do historians ensure reliability in their work?

Through rigorous source evaluation, cross-referencing, and adhering to scholarly standards.

Is oral history part of historiography?

Yes, oral history is a significant aspect, especially in cultures with strong oral traditions.

Can historiography be applied to recent events?

Yes, it can be used to analyze and interpret the writing and understanding of recent history.

How does technology impact historiography?

Technology has expanded access to sources and enabled new methods of analysis and presentation.

Can historiography be objective?

While striving for objectivity, it inherently involves subjective interpretation and selection of facts.

How does historiography affect our understanding of the past?

It shapes how we interpret and give meaning to past events, influencing our collective memory.

Can historiography be used to predict future events?

While not predictive, it can provide insights into patterns and consequences that may inform future possibilities.

How do historians deal with incomplete historical records?

They use available evidence to make educated interpretations, often acknowledging the gaps and uncertainties.

Can the same historical event have multiple historiographies?

Yes, as different historians and cultures may interpret and prioritize aspects of the event differently.

Is historiography a static field of study?

No, it's dynamic, constantly adapting to new findings and perspectives.

Does historiography only focus on written records?

No, it also considers non-written sources like artifacts, oral histories, and cultural practices.

Does historiography evolve over time?

Indeed, as it reflects changes in historical understanding and academic methods.

Is there a universal approach to historiography?

No, approaches vary based on cultural, academic, and methodological differences.

How do historians handle conflicting sources?

They critically evaluate and compare sources, considering context, authorship, and purpose.

What is the role of bias in historiography?

Identifying and understanding bias is crucial in evaluating historical narratives and methodologies.

How is historiography taught in academic settings?

It is taught as a critical discipline, emphasizing source analysis, methodology, and theoretical frameworks.

What impact does historiography have on society?

It influences how societies understand their past, identity, and the lessons learned from history.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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