Why study history?

The study of history begins with questions, not answers. We seek to know what happened in the past, and we also seek to understand why.

As our present-day context raises new challenges for our communities, historians are inspired to ask new questions about the past, seeking understanding of a broad variety of human experiences. Historians explore questions about past politics and economics, intellectual developments, social concerns shaped by race, gender and class, and facets of culture ranging from arts and languages to human spaces and emotions. As a result, the study of history is dynamic, rather than static, and those trained in this discipline develop valuable skills in gathering, evaluating, connecting and interpreting factual information, and in the use of evidence to argue persuasively for their conclusions.

Learn more about what historians do and why employers value these skills.


panel one - karen rader / panel two - ada lovelace

Oct 12, 2021

Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating the achievements of the first computer programmer in history

Could you imagine computer programming before the modern computer? Professor Karen Rader lends her perspective on the life of Ada Lovelace and the celebration of women in STEM throughout history.

zoom screenshot of mary beth norton presenting her lecture

Sep 22, 2021

Do you really know the history of the American Revolution?

Do you really know the history of the American Revolution? Historian Mary Beth Norton's research shows a different and more detailed story than what you may have learned in high school.

historic photo of a woman dancing in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Sep 21, 2021

Preserving Cultural Heritage: the history behind Hispanic Heritage Month

Professor Daniel Morales writes about the history behind Hispanic Heritage Month. This is a repost from a news story published September 30, 2020.

History Spotlight

Meet Sophie

Sophie Crago has a passion for learning and understanding our past. Visit our 'Meet a Student' page to read more about Sophie's favorite classes, favorite professors, and what she plans to do with her bachelor's degree in history.

Sophie Crago


Collaboration and sharing are at the core of our mission.

Ryan Smith

Dead Reckoning: The Historical Recovery and Unsettled Place of Richmond's Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground

Date: Friday, Nov 5, 2021

Cemeteries are essential sources for human connection and historical information. But what happens when they are destroyed?