The papers in this course are exercises in research, writing, and critical thinking. They are designed to enhance both analytical and communication skills and to provide a deeper understanding of history.

First Paper: Primary Sources

A short essay based on the set of primary sources provided on the Canvas site and on the accompanying course website.

Those sources are:

  1. “Excepts from The Black Codes of Mississippi” (1865)
  2. “Jourdan Anderson to his old master” (1865)
  3. Frederick Douglass, “What the Black Man Wants” (1865)
  4. Testimony on the Ku Klux Klan in Congressional Hearing” (1872)

Based on your reading of these four sources: What was life like for newly emancipated African Americans in the South in the years after the Civil War and in what ways did they respond to the conditions they faced?

Details, Requirements, and Deadlines

  • This paper is worth 100 points (out of 1000 for the class grade), or 10%.
  • It is due by the lecture start time on Weds. of Week 4 (W, Feb. 7, 9:30AM).
  • It should be approximately 1,000 words (3-4 pages in 12-point font).
  • Your essay must have a title that reflects your core theme or argument.
  • Proofread your paper carefully to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Late papers are subject to a 10 point (10% deduction). Papers that are more than 3 days late will lose an additional 10% of the grade.

You must include footnotes and a bibliography in Chicago Manual of Style format. See the Citation Guide on the ExploreHistory site.

  • Regardless of your section, you are required to submit the assignment in the Canvas Paper 1 Dropbox. Your section instructor will let you know whether you are also required to also submit the assignment in hard copy.
  • The paper will be returned in discussion in Week 5 (W/R/F, February 14-16).

Writing the Essay

The ExploreHistory site: http://explorehistory.ou.edu features tutorials to help you with the following essential elements of a strong paper:

Crafting a Thesis: A strong thesis goes beyond simply reporting what you found; it uses the evidence to broaden, qualify, or even contradict our understanding of a particular issue or topic. Your thesis may emerge gradually as you wrestle with your documents in early drafts. However, be sure feature your thesis in the introduction in the final version of the paper.

Working the Evidence:  Most of a history essay should consist of “evidence paragraphs,” which develop and support the thesis with quotations from the sources. Quote when you’ve made an assertion your reader is unlikely to accept without proof. After you quote, always explain: analyze the quoted material carefully to ensure that your quotations support the points you are making. Quote carefully and selectively, and do not quote large blocks of text.

Structuring the Essay: As your paragraphs begin to emerge from this process of working the evidence, unify each one with a topic sentence, and arrange them in a sequence that builds toward your strongest claims. Your finished essay should thus feature a clearly sign-posted order as it advances from the introduction through your body paragraphs and, finally, to your conclusion.