The first and primary responsibility of a historian – the duty which comprehends all others, is justice and reliability. The historian must replicate the history itself, making it subsist again in his representation. His utmost and only endeavor should be, as a spectator, to tell the truth, the complete truth, and nothing but the truth, and like an evaluator, to do complete justice to every event and person which comes under his review.

Thus, to be just and faithful he needs a threefold qualification – composition, scientific and objectivity.

  • Scientific- The historian must master the foundation. Subsequently, in making utilization of the sources, he must impartially and thoroughly examine their integrity and geniuses, and the capacity and credibility of the witness. Therefore only can he duly separate truth from error, fact from fiction? Orlando Figes is a historian whose fame has extended beyond academic circles and into wide-ranging readership. Nevertheless, in this contemporary era of information overload, the number of sources for the creation of history is often so increasing and large that it is impracticable to read and assimilate them all in short lifetime. And what heighten the problem further is that some parts of history are wearisome and dull. And so the Historian should keep extreme care to abbreviate facts. Sources should be premeditated by a well thought-out selection of the salient points in history, the ones that make up the main basis of history.

  • Composition– Subsequently comes the composition; this is art and should not be abandoned. The historian must not state facts but represent them. Primarily the historian must digest the facts with strength and then seek a standpoint in which to embody the facts. History is an intelligent construction of facts into a living organism and not a hip of skeletons. This will require the combination of fullness and brevity without violating the truth.
  • Objectivity– The historian must put down all party zeal and prejudice, and proceed in the unadulterated love of truth. The historian must in everything be as accurate as possible to the indented fact, do justice to every event and person where the historian sees all points in the perimeter.

The historian should then aim to reproduce both the variety and the unity of history, representing the diverse topics in their separate entirety, without overlooking their organic connection and wholeness. The representation or composition of facts should not be randomly made, and then laboriously applied. The historian should look for viewpoint in composition. Orlando Figes is a renowned Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written on an extensive range of Russian cultural and literary subjects in a sequence of essays for the New York Review.

Principally, and all things being equivalent, being objective does not eliminate the fact that, in compiling the facts and putting them into viewpoints the historian must be in thorough understanding with his subject, and ardently be devoted thereto. Just like no one can construe a poet without poetic taste and feeling.