HIST 1483, Spring 2019

This paper will be an essay based on your own original research of primary and secondary sources. Working with your TA, you will identify a topic, construct a research question, examine primary sources on that question using the selected databases on the Exploring U.S. History website, and develop a strong argument that places what you learn from the documents in historical context. Imagine your audience as intelligent readers craving new knowledge about the past, but unfamiliar with these documents. What can you tell them about the sources that will surprise them—that will deepen their understanding of American history?

Requirements and Deadlines

  • This paper is due to your TA during Week 15, which is the week of April 22, on whatever day and time they specify.
  • The paper will be submitted in whatever format your TA prefers.
  • The paper should be between 1800 and 2100 words long – about 6 or 7 double-spaced pages in Times New Roman font – and include a word count at the end.
  • You should use one or more of the databases listed on the Exploring U.S. History website to find primary sources.
  • Use 7 to 10 primary sources as a target figure. Depending on the sources you use, you may need to go over (or under) this range. Check with your TA for approval in that case.
  • You will also be required to turn in several preliminary assignments in preparation for writing the research paper: a topic and research plan, an annotated bibliography, and a draft of your Introduction and Outline.
  • The research paper is worth 150 points while the preliminary assignments are worth a total of 100 points.
  • All papers must include footnotes formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. See the Citation Guide on the Exploring U.S. History website.

Writing the Essay

Work closely with your TA and use the resources available on the Exploring U.S. History website to include the following in your paper:

  • A strong thesis statement in your opening paragraph 

  • Body paragraphs that begin with clear topic sentences and support your thesis with 
quotations from the primary documents 

  • Historical writing that carefully guides the reader through your argument 


Throughout the essay, your sentences should be clear, logically organized, and efficient. Quotes and evidence need to be smoothly integrated into sentences and paragraphs, and both your spelling and grammar must be correct. Conversely, you need not use fancy vocabulary or convoluted jargon. Simpler is better. After you’ve completed your first draft, please proofread out loud. The best argument can be undermined by poor writing—weak topic sentences, poor paragraph structure, awkward phrasing, excessive quotations, a feeble vocabulary, or typos. Clear writing is hard, and requires time, patience, and repetition.

Possible Paper Topics

Select a paper topic from the list below, or work with your TA to create your own topic: 


Salem Witch Trials


The Colonial Experience in Virginia


Anglo-Native American Relations in the 17th and 18th Centuries

Native American Culture in the Colonial Period


Intellectual Foundations of the Revolutionary Era


Women in the Early Republic


Foreign Policy in the Early Republic


The Slave Experience/Slave Resistance in the U.S.


Creating African American Culture


Andrew Jackson’s Vision for America


Native Americans and U.S. Expansion


The Cherokee Nation


The Secession Crisis


Women/Families in Wartime (Revolution or Civil War)

Soldiers/Black Soldiers in War (Revolution or Civil War)