This is the final draft of your original research paper, using primary source material, of approximately 2,000 words or seven to eight double-spaced pages.  Due on Wednesday, November 21, it demonstrates the essential skills of the historian: 1) defining a research question, 2) gathering evidence, 3) interpreting sources, and 4) presenting an argument about the significance of your findings. This paper is not a report, surveying what we know about a topic, it is a research paper, analyzing data from the past to answer a research question. Upload your finished essay to your TA’s Canvas page.


Thesis and Introduction: A strong thesis goes beyond simply reporting what you found; it uses the evidence to broaden, qualify, or even contradict our understanding of an important theme in U.S. history. Your thesis may emerge gradually as you wrestle with your documents in early drafts. In your finished paper, however, feature your thesis in the introduction. See Thesis Statement tutorial.Links to an external site.

Using Quotations: Most of a history essay should consist of “evidence paragraphs,” which develop and support the thesis with quotations. Quote when you’ve made an assertion your reader is unlikely to accept without proof. After you quote, always explain: tell your reader what the implications are that might not be obvious and try to imagine how someone might not agree with your reading of the material and the quotation. See the online tutorialLinks to an external site..

Structure: 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.

Citations and Format: Include properly formatted footnotes that use Chicago Style. The paper should be double-spaced and typed in 12-point font with one-inch margins and page numbers. Students should consult the Chicago Manual of Style as they compose footnotes. (You don’t need a Works Cited page, but if it makes you feel better to have such a page, go ahead, but it does not count toward the 2000 words required for the essay.) Guidelines for citations can be found here: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.