YouTube is a fantastic way of getting free information on pretty much any subject – history included. Since the start of the platform, both professional historians and lovers of history have published video content to share their passion and knowledge.
Want to learn about Roman Emperors? Find out about Victorian serial killers? Get the facts on the Yukon gold rush? And what really happened during the Russian Revolution? No matter what you want to know about, YouTube probably has you covered.
But where to start? There are dozens of big channels out there. And, unfortunately, not all of them offer reliable facts.
We’ve done the quality check for you. Here are the ten best history channels on YouTube. They cover a huge range of eras and subjects – but they’ve got one thing in common: They’re not just reliable, but also entertaining.
If it’s long-form documentaries you’re after, Timeline is the right channel for you. Here, you’ll find high-quality, in-depth information about topics ranging from the 1942 tank defense of Stalingrad to the rediscovery of a lost medieval hospital.
Typical videos are 45 to 90 minutes long. Some topics, though, have longer run-times. The history of the Americas before Columbus, for example, is covered in three hours.
Timeline – History is part of the History Hit Network, which offers on-demand documentary streaming.
Are you after compact introductions to complicated historical events? Then Oversimplified is a fantastic resource for you.
Harnessing animations and humor, this channel provides crash courses to topics such as the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution. Usually, videos are between 15 and 30 minutes long.
If you’re interested in Ancient Rome in particular, Historia Civilis should be your go-to source on YouTube. This channel takes viewers on a deep-dive into the history of the Roman Empire. It will give you an introduction to the Roman Senate, walk you through the Invasion of Gaul, and give you the run-down on the assassination of Julius Cesar.
Feature History is another great resource if you’re looking for quick, no-nonsense introductions to particular chapters in history.
With a focus on armed conflicts, from the First Boer War to the Second Opium War, this channel provides great bite-sized information on a variety of topics.
Plus, it also tackles some more recent topics, such as Saddam’s Iraq and the history of military 4x4s.
Did you grow up watching the History Channel? Then you’ll love History, its YouTube division.
In true History Channel style, it gives you insights into mysteries such as the labyrinth hidden under Rome’s famous Colosseum, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and deadly Aztec weapons.
In addition, History is also bringing new life to ancient practices. You’ll find videos of people trying out Viking workouts and cooking dishes that would have been served at the Last Supper.
Enjoying this list? Why not also have a look at the top 10 family channels on YouTube?
Did Ronald Reagan really use astrology to make decisions? What mysterious disease wiped out the Aztecs? And why do babies in medieval art look like creepy adults?
Weird History offers answers to all of these questions. This channel takes a closer look at the fringes of history, unearthing facts that will make you say “No way!”
Another fantastic resource to discover historical figures and events that you’ve never heard of before is The History Guy. Covering topics from the Wild West to aviation, this channel features videos of 5 to 10 minutes that dive into otherwise forgotten aspects of history.
Whether it’s the Battle of Okinawa or daily life in East Berlin, The Armchair Historian features fantastic animated videos on a huge variety of historical subjects. Videos are usually between 10 and 30 minutes long. Some subjects, such as the Fall of Italy during World War II, are covered in multiple parts.
Though not strictly a history-only channel, Decoding the Unknown has some fantastic historical content. It dives into mysteries from the disappearance of the Irish Crown Jewels to the secret Nazi base in the Arctic.
Looking for more mysteries and potential crimes? Check out our list of the best True Crime YouTubers!
For fantastic, illustrated insights into history from ancient times to the 19th century, look no further than See U in History / Mythology. As this channel’s name suggests, it focuses not only on historical events and persons, but also on mythologies from different time periods and geographical regions. Whether you want to know who the Vikings worshiped, or dive into the Tudor dynasty, this is a fantastic address.
Plus, See U in History has also started publishing YouTube Shorts. So if you need a super quick history pick-me-up, you can tune in here.
Also check out: the top 10 cooking channels!
The Bottom Line
YouTube is an amazing repository of knowledge on history. By browsing the channels above, you can rediscover forgotten historical figures, gain insights into events that irrevocably shaped our world, and get captivated by engrossing stories and mysteries. Happy watching and learning!
OverSimplified and History are perhaps the two most popular history channels on YouTube, at several million subscribers each.
Look no further than Historia Civilis, a YouTube channel focused on ancient European history.
Kids will love the compact bites of info and entertainment that channels or OverSimplified or See U in History put out. They’re short, fun, but also strongly based in fact.