Historians as Advocates

The study of history can prepare individuals for a variety of careers as advocates for causes, including the cause of history itself. A major in history, for example, provides excellent preparation for a career in law.

Lawyers and Paralegals

In addition to providing experience in logical argumentation, history courses offer research, writing, and analytical skills necessary both for law school and the practice of law. Students of history wishing to become lawyers must, of course, be graduated from law school, but it is possible to become professional paralegal assistants with some training in this field.

Litigation Support

Historians who are not lawyers can also play an important part in the legal process by providing litigation support research and serving as expert witnesses. This may require work on relatively simple issues, such as documenting a property line or providing genealogical research for a contested will, confirming the significance of a historic building in a case that determines the owner's right to tax credits, or researching cases with far reaching consequences, such as a major civil rights case.

Legislative Staff Work

Historians can be important staff members for government officials who are responsible for making laws. Ability to conduct primary source research is invaluable when seeking to determine the original intent of a law or regulation under scrutiny. Historians, of course are also valuable as advocates for the history profession. Research and writing skills, contacts with the history profession, and knowledge of government serve historians well in these capacities. These staff members may be responsible for drafting legislation, researching options for legislative action, interpreting the position of the history profession on an impending decision, and generally working toward a government that, at whatever level, best serves the public needs. Legislative staff at the Congressional level may be hired by Congress to work on personal or committee staffs. State legislatures and state agencies also employ historians as legislative staff.


Private foundations and granting agencies such as state humanities councils or the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) sometimes have openings for various administrative and support positions in which the skills of the history degree holder can be useful. At higher levels, staff members of granting agencies can help the decision-making boards or panels understand the discipline of history, assist applicants in developing grants, arrange for peer review of grants, critique grant applications, and monitor the work of grant recipients.