Writing a research paper, including revising it after receiving professorial comments, is one of the requirements of HIS122. The topic is to be drawn from the time covered in the course, United States History from 1865 to present. In doing the research, you will need to consult both primary and secondary sources, which also means figuring out which ones you need to use. The paper itself will be approximately 6-8 pages and will use Chicago Manual of Style as a formatting guide.
The first step is to choose a topic and create a thesis statement. Some examples for this course are one of the Reconstruction, Great Depression, Temperance Movement…to name a few. Likely, you will start with a general area and, as you learn more about it, narrow your paper down to a more specific problem that you will discuss in your paper.
A great place to start is with one or two primary sources. The objective here will be to understand the conditions under which the source was written, how modern historians have used it, and what other sources they study with it. There are lots of good sources from our period, given so many documents have survived until today. If you select a longer source, you will want to choose a section of it to concentrate on.
Once you have turned in your topic and thesis assignment, if you want to select an alternate topic, see me and we’ll discuss whether it can be done within the context of the course.
Regardless of your topic, you will need to find secondary sources. There are various bibliographical sources available. A search for your primary source(s) will turn up lots of material, probably more than you can use. Another approach is to get a recent book or article in the subject area you are working in and trace references through the footnotes. (That is what footnotes are for.) The books we have used in class will be a place to start. Try to stick with secondary sources published since 1950. Avoid sources without footnotes. These all need to be books and articles you find in the library, hard copy. No web sources. Many beginning history students have difficulty distinguishing between blogs and valid scholarly sources. Eliminating web sources will help with this.
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