Offering advice on how to become a historical researcher is never going to be a simple step by step guide that can be followed and be something that guarantees results, however this post will offer some advice that will steer you in the right direction. Hopefully it will help those of you who are interested on your way to becoming a historian!
Before we start, just what is historical research? For more information on this topic, please see our previous post. So, how do you set about becoming a historian?
The most obvious of paths is through education. For those of you that are young enough and are in still in full-time education at school, the simplest way is of course to study history at every opportunity through your learning provider and to continue that through college and university. If you wish to become a historical researcher as a full time profession it would be very much advisable and most probably required that you continue to study a form of history through to postgraduate education, perhaps even gaining a doctorate!
But what then? Even with all of your degrees, where and what do you do? How do you become a historical researcher?
Perhaps a career as an archivist! Although this may sound rather sterile and boring to many, an archivist career does not have to be restricted to boxing historical items up for real researchers to come along and access. Working as an archivist can allow you to research. It can give you a fantastic understanding of how the researching can and should be done, the big picture of what is available to you as a researcher and how best you can access it. With this training and understanding, when a job arrives as a historical researcher you will be much more prepared. Even volunteering at places such as your local historical archive can be greatly benefitial to your chances, and very interesting and rewarding!
Of course, not all of us are blessed with youth, do not have the opportunity to go to college or university or simply do not want to pursue the subject with full time rigour. Many historical researchers are not full time professionals with doctorates supporting them, but local or family historians who have little or no qualifications in the subject. Remember, a lack of a qualification in history does not prevent you from becoming a historical researcher!
Family historians use services such as ancestry.co.uk to access their family tree and delve into their family history with great interest. To become this sort of researcher, all you need is an internet connection, a bit of cash and dedication to the cause!
Reading historical sources detailing your local area for, say a local community project can easily be as important and interesting as any historical research project. Primary data concerning your local town or street can be accessed from many town or city libraries.
Hopefully this article has ignited your interest in historical research and shown you a number of ways of how to become a historical researcher!
Hear why Dr Rumm became a historian!