History 1301 Essay Assessment Assignment

History 1301 Essay Assessment Assignment

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The purpose of this assignment is to use different historical methods you have learned about during this course to complete a historical research project.  Your research project should start with your developing a historical question, that you then research, and then attempt to answer using both primary and secondary sources to support your research.

How to proceed:

  • Select one of the essay topics below in the Essay Options section. There are a total of four possible research options, please read each one to decide which you feel you would like to pursue.
  • Create your specific historical question within the broader essay topic you select.
  • The examples under each essay option are by no means the only topics that you can write about, they are merely provided to help you think about how you might approach this topic. You should select your own topic; however, you can choose one of the examples.
  • Begin researching primary and secondary sources to gather information that support your discussion of your historical question.
  • Review the paper requirements for both the research portion and the writing portion of your assignment.
  • Review the grading rubric to ensure that you have met all of the paper requirements before making your submission.

Essay Options (select one of the following options):

Research Option #1: History Turning Points

General Overview: Select an event, incident, a legislative action, or related marked historical moment in the years up until the American Civil War (Pre-Columbian Era to 1865), that marks an important transition in American History.  This historical event can lead to a social, economic, or political transition that shaped the country’s history.  Additionally, you will conclude this research project with a supposition of how history might have been shaped had this event never occurred or of another possible outcome could have been possible.


Examples: The effect of the Salem Witchcraft Trials on the colonial religious goals of Massachusetts; The post-French & Indian War colonial taxation policies of the British government; The failure of the indentured servitude system to provide an ample labor source in the pre-Revolutionary American South; The passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act & its relationship the impending crisis that becomes the American Civil War.


Research Objectives & Questions to be Discussed in Your Essay: (Incorporate these questions in the writing of your essay.)

  • Why did you select this event?
  • What were both the short- and long-term effects of this historical event?
  • Who all were impacted/affected by this historical event?
  • How was history changed by this event?
  • If you were to imagine a different outcome or reaction to your event, what do you suppose might have been a different outcome in the short- and long-term?


Research Option #2: Oral History and Historical Memory

General Overview: You will read two historical personal account in relation to life in the past or tied to a specific historical event.  Then your research will compare these personal accounts with the “factual” or “documented” history of the era, the proceed to compare the personal account against the historical record; and then analyze the value of oral history in enriching our understanding the historical period/event.


Examples: The testimonies of Paul Revere and Gen. Thomas Gage on the Battles of Lexington and Concord; Diaries of factory workers in Lowell, Massachusetts; Journals of migrants moving westward on the Oregon and/or Overland Trails; Narratives of slaves and their experiences, etc.


Research Objectives & Questions to be Discussed in Your Essay:

  • What was the personal background of the two individuals you chose?
  • How are the individuals specifically tied to the specific historical event?
  • What are the similarities and differences in the accounts of the individuals?
  • What elements in their narratives do you feel influenced (if it applies) they way we teach/learn that history today?
  • How do you feel personal accounts either enhance or possibly detract from our understanding of the historical past?


Research Option #3: Impacts of Colonization

General Overview: This research project will examine the impact of exploration, movement, and colonization in the Atlantic world from a social, economic, technological, and/or political perspective.  One aspect of the impact should be evaluated and traced over at least a century of activity.  In conclusion, this research project will analyze the remnant of that impact that can still be evidenced today in the Americas, Africa, Caribbean, and/or Europe.

Examples: The development of new international law in relation to discoveries of European nations; The environmental or cultural impact of European or American commodities moved across the Atlantic (potatoes, sugar, grain crops, etc); The migration of different groups in the New World in specific places of settlement and their cultural legacy (which can include voluntary and involuntary migrants, ie: slaves, colonizers from differing nations, etc).


Research Objectives & Questions to be Discussed in Your Essay:

  • What were the short- and long-term effects of the impact on various groups of people affected by your chosen topic?
  • How did groups of people and/or societies behave prior to the impact?
  • How were people and/or societies benefited and harmed by the impact (negative and positive outcomes)
  • What are evidences of the legacy of this impact that can still be seen today?
  • How do you feel is the best way we can both acknowledge/honor the history of these colonial impacts in our modern society?


Research Option #4: History Yesterday & Today

General Overview: This research project will start with the student examining a recent news story (reported within the last year) that reveals new information about the historical past, OR a recent news story that contributes to the longer dialogue/history of the relationship between Africa, the Americas, and Europe.  The goal of this essay should be to emphasize the idea that history is a continually developing story that evolves with new information, discoveries, and/or changes in political, social, and or economic conditions.  Important note; the news story should be directly tied to an event that this course covers (pre-Columbian era to the end of the Civil War).


Examples: The recent discovery of a sunken slave ship off the coast of South Africa with slaves from the east coast of Africa; The discovery of the time capsule found in a building in Boston; The issues of epidemic diseases such as Ebola, and the way epidemic diseases affected communities in the past.


Research Objectives & Questions to be Discussed in Your Essay:

  • What is the topic of the news story, and what does the reporter highlight as the current historical significance?
  • What is the historical context of the news story? What does it specifically relate to?
  • How does the news story either add new information, expand, and/or change what we know about the historical past?
  • In your assessment, should this story/discovery/research fundamentally change the way in which we teach history of this event/period?
  • Overall, using your news story as an example, how do recent events and discoveries illustrate that history is a dynamic and evolving study?


Research Requirements:

  • You will need to use at least two (2) primary sources for your research topic. (See below for definitions of a primary source)
  • You will need to use at least three (3) secondary sources for your research topic. (See below for definitions of a secondary source).   Preference is for academic articles found in scholarly journals.  Online sources must be pre-approved by your instructor before use within your paper.
  • Your textbook cannot be used as a source, as it is a tertiary source.
  • You will also need to find at least one image that is relevant to your research topic. This image can be either a primary or secondary source, although a primary source image is preferred.
  • If you are using a secondary source image, it should be an image that is created for academic purposes to help support your research (a modern map, etc).

Writing Requirements:

  • Your essay should be a minimum of 1000 words. This word count does not include any cover sheet wording, your footnotes/endnotes, or your works cited/bibliography page.
  • Your essay must be formatted using 1” margins for all margins (top, bottom, left and right).
  • Your essay should be typed using 12pt. Times New Roman font.
  • Your essay needs to be double-spaced.
  • Please do not include any headers (your name, course, date, paper title) on any written pages of your essay.
  • Your research essay should be accompanied by a cover sheet that states your paper title, your name, your course, and date.
  • All of your sources should be cited using the Chicago/Turabian method. MLA will not be accepted!
  • You must cite your sources using either footnotes or endnotes formatted in the Chicago/Turabian citation method. Please select either footnotes or endnotes based upon personal preference, just remember to be consistent throughout your essay with your citation method. Parenthetical reference is not permitted.
  • If possible, you will want to try to incorporate your image into your essay by embedding it into the text. Otherwise, placing the image at the end of your document is acceptable (after the conclusion and before your Works Cited/Bibliography page).
  • Your image should include a caption that describes the image and its relevance to your topic, this caption to your image should be at least 150 words. This word count does not count toward the overall word count of your essay.
  • You must include a Works Cited/Bibliography page at the end of the document. Be sure you are documenting all sources used for your research paper, including your image source in this section.  There should be agreement between the sources you document in this section and the sources you cite in your footnotes/endnotes.

Grading Rubric:

  • Formatting 0-20 points: Paper is formatted correctly, does not include headers in written text, nor utilizes excessively large margins, paper is double-spaced and demonstrates clear organization in the form of paragraph breaks.
  • Image 0-5 points: Paper includes at least one appropriate image relevant to the research topic, and the image is properly captioned explaining its relevance to the essay.
  • Academic Honesty & Integrity 0-25 points: Paper is properly cited using either footnotes or endnotes. Includes a properly formatted Works Cited/Bibliography.  Demonstrates agreement between documented sources and citations in the essay text.
  • Essay Content 0-50 points: Paper content is well-written, organized, has a strong introduction with a clear thesis statement, and is concluded with a summarization of research findings. Paper shows editing, lacking excessive spelling and grammatical errors.

Sources (Types and Recommendations):

  • Primary Sources: Written materials, images, and artifacts that produced and are contemporary to the time period of your subject matter. (examples: a cave drawing produced by an indigenous person, a speech given by an individual, a painting of a street scene).
  • Secondary Sources: Generally, written materials, images, and artifacts that are produced by individuals after the time period of your research. Most secondary sources are based upon primary sources.
  • Internet Sources: Any use of internet sources, should be pre-approved by your instructor before using them in your research. If selecting option #4, internet news sources are appropriate, however try to select articles from mainstream sources.  In all other essay options, select internet sources that come from government entities, library archives, universities, and other online primary source repositories.
  • Internet Sources to avoid:
  • com
  • com
  • com
  • com


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