I guess one possible reason for this confusion stems from a lack of consistency or clarity around the language and naming convention for applications, or that it is context-sensitive/dependent.
If you look at the word 'history' as a collective noun, then anything that is not in the present (i.e. that the use is currently looking at) is in the past and therefore history.
Yet if you look at the word 'history' as an action, then you could argue that it is actually an 'audit trail' that documents what the user has been doing, which means that it could be something that the user goes back to again.
Lastly, if you look at the word 'history' as a point in time, then not only does the action matter, but the time at which the action took place also matters as well.
The term 'recent' appears to just relate to a point in time, and so only actions that took place within a specific timeframe (defined as being recent) would appear.
Hope that gives you some way to think about it.