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Commissioning a history

Every person and every organisation has a story to tell. A recorded history is a tangible way of both preserving and sharing the story of your school, business, company, charity, church, union, community group, local or regional council, government department, family or local area. Recording your history contributes to a better understanding of our society and our world. While you may only want to mark an event or anniversary, you need good historical research, writing and presentation to develop a clear understanding of your role, culture and significance.

The process of producing accurate, thorough and lively history is time consuming and complex: there is, for example, a vast array of archives and other material. That is why you need an accredited professional historian who has the skills, research methods and historical techniques, as well as a well-developed knowledge and the experience to identify, collect and interpret research material, obtain oral history and visual material. They will combine these to produce an engaging manuscript that locates your story in a wider historical context.

Accredited professional historians research, evaluate and assess information, gather and write material of a high standard for publication, present reports and produce displays and exhibitions. They are academically qualified to bring broad historical knowledge, objectivity, and strong research and writing skills to a history project.

For commissioning organisations and individuals the PHA(SA) provides:

  • access to trained and experienced historians;
  • advice on all aspects of commissioned histories (including contracts, project management, copyright, insurance, publication and rates of payment);
  • advice on the employment of historians;
  • maintenance of professional standards; and
  • initial mediation in contractual disputes.


The skills of an accredited professional historian complement those of other professionals such as archivists, archaeologists, curators, anthropologists, architects, planners and lawyers. Accredited professional historians can also play a significant role in records management and archival practices; for example, advising on records appraisal and disposal.

The writing of good histories is a specialised activity that requires sound historical skills and knowledge combined with an appreciation of how to present information. So go for the best – the accredited professional historian!

The Profession