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.

Selected article

An A-1 Skyraider, similar in model to the aircraft used in the attack
The 1962 South Vietnamese Independence Palace bombing in Saigon was an aerial attack on February 27, 1962, by two dissident Vietnam Air Force pilots, Second Lieutenant Nguyễn Văn Cử and First Lieutenant Phạm Phú Quốc. The pilots targeted the Independence Palace, the official residence of the President of South Vietnam, with the aim of assassinating President Ngô Đình Diệm and his immediate family, who acted as his political advisors.

The pilots later stated that their assassination attempt was in response to Diệm's autocratic rule, in which he focused more on remaining in power than on confronting the Viet Cong, a Marxist–Leninist guerilla army who were threatening to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. Cử and Quốc hoped that the airstrike would expose Diệm's vulnerability and trigger a general uprising, but this failed to materialise. One bomb penetrated a room in the western wing where Diệm was reading but it failed to detonate, leading the president to claim that he had "divine protection". With the exception of Diệm's sister-in-law Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, who escaped with minor injuries, the Ngo family were unscathed; however, three palace staff died and another 30 were injured. Afterwards, Cử managed to escape to Cambodia, but Quốc was arrested and imprisoned.

Selected biography

John Treloar in 1922
John Linton Treloar, OBE (10 December 1894 – 28 January 1952) was an Australian archivist and the second director of the Australian War Memorial (AWM). During World War I he served in several staff roles and later headed the First Australian Imperial Force's (AIF) record-keeping unit. From 1920 Treloar played an important role in establishing the AWM as its director. He headed an Australian Government department during the first years of World War II, and spent the remainder of the war in charge of the Australian military's history section. Treloar returned to the AWM in 1946, and continued as its director until his death.

Treloar's career was focussed on the Australian military and its history. Prior to World War I he worked as a clerk in the Department of Defence and, after volunteering for the AIF in 1914, formed part of the Australian Army officer Brudenell White's staff for most of the war's first years. He was appointed commander of the Australian War Records Section (AWRS) in 1917. In this position, he improved the AIF's records and collected a large number of artefacts for later display in Australia. Treloar was appointed the director of what eventually became the AWM in 1920, and was a key figure in establishing the Memorial and raising funds for its permanent building in Canberra. He left the AWM at the outbreak of World War II to lead the Australian Government's Department of Information, but was effectively sidelined for much of 1940. In early 1941 he was appointed to command the Australian military's Military History and Information Section with similar responsibilities to those he had held during World War I. He attempted to intervene in the management of the AWM during his absence, however, to the increasing frustration of its acting director. Treloar worked intensely in all his roles and suffered periods of ill-health as a result. Following the war, he returned to the Memorial in 1946 but his performance deteriorated over time, possibly due to exhaustion. He died in January 1952.

Did you know...

IJN carrier Amagi capsized off Kure in 1946.jpg

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Beijing Castle Boxer Rebellion 1900 FINAL.jpg

An attack on Beijing Castle during the Boxer Rebellion, September 1900. The Boxer Rebellion was a nationalist movement by "Righteous Harmony Society" against European and Christian influence; it failed, and China was forced to pay an incremental reprimand of 67 million pounds to the European countries that put it down.

On this day

August 18:

Margaret of Valois
Margaret of Valois

Knut Alvsson (d. 1502) · Baji Rao I (b. 1700) · Ruth Norman (b. 1900)

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My heart is a stone: heavy with sadness for my people; cold with the knowledge that no treaty will keep whites out of our lands; hard with the determination to resist as long as I live and breathe.

— Tecumseh, Native American tribal chief

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Greater Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire 1700x1767 pix Igor Barbe 2006.jpg
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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