History is often used as a generic term for information about the past, such as in "geologic history of the Earth". When used as a field of study, history refers to human history, which is the recorded past of human societies.
The term "history" comes from the Greek historia, "an account of one's inquiries," and shares that etymology with the English word story. It does not come from the word his; however, some feminists have coined the term herstory to refer to history from a female perspective. (see non-sexist language)
Historians use many types of sources, including written or printed records, interviews (oral history), and archaeology. Different approaches may be more common in some periods than others, and the study of history has its fads and fashions (see historiography, the history of history). The events that occurred prior to human records are known as prehistory.
There is a very large amount of historical information available in Wikipedia, and several different ways of classifying it are given below.
Miscellaneous classifications, not necessarily part of academic history studies:
- Philosophy of history
- History of art
- History painter
- Cultural movements
- Diaspora studies
- History of economic thought
- History of extinct nations and states
- Film history
- Intellectual history
- Legal history
- History of literature
- History of mathematics
- History of medicine
- History of philosophy
- History of science and technology
- History of theater
A typical academic classification:
- Pre-Columbian history of the Americas also see Mesoamerica
- Medieval European history
- History of Europe
- African history
- Islamic history
- History of Christianity
- Jewish history
A form of historical speculation known commonly as virtual history (also called "counterfactual history") been adopted by some historians as a means of assessing and exploring the possible outcomes if certain events had not occurred or had occurred in a different way to that which they did.
You may also want to see dubious historical resources and historical myths for a list of false beliefs and histories which were once or are now popular and widespread, but which are proven to be false or dubious.
See also pseudohistory for more about uncritical history.