Paul Gilje, HIST 1483—020


The papers in this course are exercises in research and writing. They are designed to enhance both analytical and communication skills and provide a deeper understanding of the interpretive function of thinking about and studying history.

First Paper: Primary Sources

The first paper is a short essay based on the primary sources in the Course Pack (and also  available by clicking on the links below), which focus on English and Native American contact in early Virginia.

These sources are:

Based on your reading of these sources, answer the following question: How did the English view Native Americans in early seventeenth-century Virginia, and how did those views shape interactions between colonists and Indians? What clues do these documents contain about Native American views of the English?

Details, Requirements and Deadlines

  • This paper is worth 100 points (out of 1000 for the class grade), or 10%.
  • It is due in the lecture class on Tuesday, September 19.
  • It should be 1,000-1,200 words (around 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 cannot be accepted without extenuating circumstances.
  • You must include footnotes and a bibliography in Chicago Manual of Style format. See the Citation Guide on the ExploreHistory web site.
  • Submit the assignment in hard copy and in your discussion section Canvas site.
  • The paper will be returned in discussion in Week 6.

Writing the Essay

The ExploreHistory web site 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 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.

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.

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.