Since the 1960s, crime has been studied from a historical perspective. As a result of the epistemological rapprochement between history and the social sciences, a history of crime and criminal justice has arisen at the intersection of a critical criminology, social and political history, the history of law, and social and cultural anthropology. The latter has stressed the importance of constructions and past experience in the contemporary configurations in which crime occurs and the methods of controlling it. The present chapter is intended to display a few of the contributions of the history of crime to criminology, and to ask a few questions about the dialogue among criminologists concerning both the history of crime and the criminology of the past. Within the realm of the social sciences, criminology offers the historian a set of questions generated by the actual observation of crime and the practices that control it, including analytical methodologies and explanatory theories. It opens a debate about the function of expertise and aids to decision-making, and emphasises the preoccupation with evaluation of current penal policy. The historian contributes a detached consideration of his object to the criminologist. Observing the past for its own sake brings with it a power of comprehension of the present, a power guaranteed by distance in time. The use of archives allows us to avoid traps associated with ‘official’ discourse or mediatised discourse, and to establish the date of the first instance of an idea or a practice. An interest in chronology has two foci, measuring changes (discontinuities) and discerning the influence of the past in the present (continuities). Finally historical synthesis attempts to arrange the major debates about crime and its control in terms of a variety of temporal situations and locations, taking account of a critique of emotions and the interpretations of various time periods given by criminals, their victims, and those who work within the criminal justice system (police, judges, journalists, experts).