The risk of accidents and disasters has always been central to the human experience. Yet, historians have only recently begun to consider risk as distinct category of historical analysis. Instead, the study of risk has been fragmented into a series of rubrics, including: risk society, modernity, history of safety, and disaster studies. This article calls for a more analytically coherent approach to risk in history, which integrates theoretical tools developed by social theorists and contemporary sociologists, with the historian’s attention to change over time, historical contingency, and individual agency. Borrowing from the work of historians of technology and material culture scholars, this approach also pays particular attention to how the material dimensions of risk entwine with politics and culture. The article also offers an overview of the existing literature and suggestions for areas of future research.