Research Paper Us History 2

Research Paper

Need topic ideas to get you started? HIST1302 Essay ideas.docx

Also, see my announcements about the help available through the CTC Writing Center.

NOTE: Before beginning this assignment, read through information contained in the Scholastic Dishonesty link in the course menu to the left.


  • The core assignment of this course is a documented research paper
    • 1500-2000 words in length = approx. 6 – 8 pages double spaced
    • 12-point font
  • The essay should support a thesis statement (making an argument) with information gained from research or investigation.

What is a Thesis?

Here’s some help with writing a history research paper at the college level and writing a Thesis Statement:

It is important to choose a topic of interest to you.

  • Approach this assignment with an open and skeptical mind, then form an opinion based on what you have discovered.
  • You must suspend belief while you are investigating and let the discoveries shape your opinion. (This is a thesis-finding approach.)
  • Once you have found your thesis, write the paper to support it.

You will use some of the following critical thinking skills in this process:

  1. Choosing an appropriate topic, limiting the topic
  2. Gathering information, summarizing sources
  3. Analyzing and evaluating sources
  4. Defining key terms
  5. Synthesizing information, comparing and contrasting sources
  6. Testing a thesis, making an historical argument, using refutation
  7. Amassing support for a position
  8. Documenting sources

Because this may be a longer essay than you have written before and a complex process is involved, it is recommended that you complete this paper using the following steps:

  1. Choose a topic related to U.S. History after 1877 (Chapters 16-28) that you would truly like to explore and that you are willing to spend some time on. Your chosen topic should be focused. Pose a question that you really want to answer. You may want to begin with more than one topic in mind. If you submit a paper with a topic from U.S. History I, you will receive a zero (0).
  2. Do some preliminary reading on the topic(s). You may begin with the textbook, then further explore the information available. Refine your topic. Summarize your topic, your interest in the topic, the questions you want to answer, and a hypothesis you want to test.
  3. Gather information from a variety of sources. Use a minimum of four (4) sources for your paper, and at least one (1) must be a primary source.
  4. Outline the results of your research and then plan for your essay (note you are not required to submit the outline).Write the final draft and be sure to include a Works Cited List; be sure to use the correct MLA documentation style.
    • Examples of primary sources are ones that are used in our discussion forums 2 – 8.
    • They are sources that are contemporary to the times under investigation.
    • Here’s additional help with primary sources
    • An example of a secondary source is our textbook, though the textbook also contains excerpts of primary sources, which you may use as a source in your essay.
    • Do not use encyclopedias of any kind.


INTRODUCTION & THESIS: The essay makes a clear and effective statement (the thesis) about the chosen topic. /15

FOCUS AND DEVELOPMENT: Body of the essay focuses on this thesis and develops it fully, recognizing the complexity of issues. /30

SUPPORT AND SYNTHESIS: Uses sufficient and relevant evidence to support the thesis (and primary points), including facts, inferences, and judgments.  Quotes, summarizes, and paraphrases accurately and effectively–appropriately introducing and explaining each quote. /30

CONVENTIONS: Uses MLA format correctly; includes a Works Cited list; is free of errors. /10

CORRECTNESS AND STYLE: Shows critical thinking and depth of understanding; uses appropriate tone; shows sophistication in language usage and sentence structure./15

TOTAL: 100

As you begin to think about your research paper for this course, it is important that you select a topic that is of interest to YOU and that it is related to history after 1877.

The following is a list of essay topics that you could consider for your Research Paper.

These topics are only suggestions. You’re welcome to develop your own topic of interest. If you have any questions or need help getting pointed in the right direction, please let me know.


· Describe how the industrial revolution created new forms of freedom for some workers while restricting some freedoms for others. How did industrialization affect all workers? Be careful not to generalize.

· What does the term “Gilded Age” mean? In what sense is Mark Twain’s term a criticism of the age?

· Sitting Bull stated, “The life my people want is a life of freedom.” Likewise, Chief Joseph simply asked the government for equal rights enshrined by the laws. Describe what freedom meant to the Indians and how that conflicted with the interests and values of most white Americans. Also, explain why white Americans did not allow Indians the opportunity to have American citizenship.

· Westward expansion – The West experienced tremendous growth after the Civil War; nowhere was this more apparent than in California. Write an essay on the consequences of population growth on the western landscape, looking at farming, livelihoods, the impact of the railroad, the growth of Indian reservations, and the subjugation of Indian peoples.





· Chronicle the process that developed in the South of chipping away the freedoms granted to blacks during Reconstruction. Give careful consideration to how the Civil War was remembered by white America. By 1900, what conditions did African-Americans in the South face? How did they respond to these conditions?


· By 1900, who was entitled to fully enjoy the blessings of American liberty? Be sure to include in your answer blacks, women, labor, immigrants, and colonial subjects.


· Analyze the consequences of American rule in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. Did the citizens prosper? Enjoy freedom? Accept American rule? Comment on the consequences for the United States with regard to the statement made by Eric Foner in the text: “Thus, two principles central to American freedom since the War of Independence—no taxation without representation and government based on the consent of the governed—were abandoned when it came to the nation’s new possessions.”


· Explain the controversy that the war in the Philippines and the annexation of the Philippines triggered over the relation-ship between political democracy, race, and American citizenship. Be sure to include in your answer an analysis of the two documents found in this chapter’s “Voices of Freedom.”



· Analyze the various roles women played during the era, from social reformer, to feminist, to suffragette. How did various women define freedom? Be sure to distinguish between different types of women and include the “Voices of Freedom” excerpt in your response.


· Compare the presidencies of Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson. What made them Progressive presidents? Identify what you believe to be the most important pieces of legislation passed during each administration. Why are these so significant? Finally, be sure to indicate what each president did to expand the meaning of freedom for Americans.


· Write an essay on the changing roles of women during the first decades of the twentieth century. How did different groups of women define freedom? How did they advocate for their freedom? Prior to the Civil War, women had championed the abolitionist cause with their own. Had they distanced themselves now from the topic of civil rights? Why, or why not?



· Compare Roosevelt’s and Wilson’s attitudes toward blacks. How significant were the actions of the federal government in advancing freedoms for blacks during the early twentieth century?


· Explain and analyze W. E. B. Du Bois’s political ideas. How did he attempt to expand civil rights for African-Americans?


· Examine and analyze Woodrow Wilson’s ideas about foreign policy. To what extent did Wilson put into practice his stated ideas?



· The 1920s are commonly referred to as the Roaring TwentiesDocument who was and who was not “roaring” in the 1920s. Your answer ought to illustrate the dichotomy of the decade.

· The 1920s presents a time when an entire people was grappling with massive technological and social change. Americans spent the decade seeking to adapt to the rise of a mass-production, mass-culture metropolitan world that had emerged seemingly overnight. Discuss the decade in these terms, describing the many ways in which Americans sought to deal with this change.

· The “New Negro” of the Harlem Renaissance is many things. W. E. B. Du Bois attempts to express it one way as a “double consciousness”—where the black man wants white America to appreciate his African roots and where he also wants to be American. Langston Hughes also expresses it in poetry with his 1925 poem I, Too, Sing America, where he reminds his readers that while darker, he too is American. Write an essay based on these ideas of the “New Negro” and the expressions of the Harlem Renaissance of celebration of being black and American.

· The Great Depression came dramatically with the stock market crash, but the causes of the Depression had been planted well before 1929. Discuss what brought on the Great Depression and why Hoover was not able to properly address the crisis.



· How did the New Deal alter the role of the national government? In your answer, discuss specific New Deal reforms.

· Choose a character in history (for example, a woman, businessperson, African-American, socialist, large farmer, tenant farmer, city dweller, union worker, and so on). Describe your scenario for the period between 1933 and 1938. Is your character a supporter of FDR and the New Deal? What suggestions might your character offer for ending the Depression?

· Compare the experiences of the industrial worker and the tenant farmer, of men and women, and of white Americans and blacks during the New Deal. Be sure to explain what freedoms and liberties were or were not extended to each group. Remember that the “Voices of Freedom” excerpt offers the migrant workers’ experience to draw on.

· Thinking back to other labor struggles in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as the Homestead Strike, Haymarket Affair, 1902 Coal Strike, and Ludlow Massacre, how do the Memorial Day Massacre and the UAW sit-down strikes compare? Had organized labor become any more sophisticated over the years in its tactics? Had business or government become any more sympathetic?

· Even though there were no significant gains made in civil rights during the 1930s, there seemed to be an optimistic view among the black community. African-Americans were able to find help in the 1930s through the hope they viewed in the Roosevelt administration, their inclusion within the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Popular Front. Write an essay that elaborates on these three pillars, and discuss what each offered to the African-American community.





· Describe how government military spending during the war affected the economic development of the West and South.

· “World War II reshaped ideas about American nationality.” Assess the validity of this statement by comparing the experiences of first-generation immigrants, second-generation immigrants, and blacks during World War II.

· How did the experiences of African-Americans during World War II lay the foundation for the modern civil rights movement?

· World War II opened up doors of opportunity for change for American minorities that no event before it had, save for the Civil War. This was especially true for Indians, Mexican-Americans, and Asian-Americans. Each group served in the armed forces. Many took advantage of the GI Bill after the war. Write an essay fully discussing how World War II and the language of freedom and democracy helped to create opportunities for each group, and document the obstacles that still stood in the way of full success for these groups.



· The Cold War impacted every aspect of American life. Discuss the domestic implications of the Cold War. Your essay should explain how the Cold War affected higher education, the economy, immigration policy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

· Fully discuss and examine the limitations placed on freedom during the Cold War. Then compare those circumstances with those during the Red Scare after World War I. What was the same? What was different? Were restrictions on civil liberties justified in both cases? Why, or why not? How did Americans react in each era?





· Discuss the changes in the American economy during the postwar period. Be sure to discuss the agricultural, industrial, and consumer sectors of the economy.

· House Beautiful magazine stated that the country’s most powerful weapon in the Cold War was “the freedom offered by washing machines and dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, automobiles, and refrigerators.” Analyze this statement, explaining how consumerism was used in the 1950s to combat the Cold War. Is consumerism used today as a tool of American foreign policy?

· Explain the role of women in 1950s American society. What were women expected to do? What kind of work did they perform? How was this idealized lifestyle supposed to be a weapon in the Cold War? Be sure to use Richard Nixon’s kitchen debate in your answer, as well as the idea that the home became the center of freedom.

· American foreign policies in Third World countries were determined by Cold War doctrine. Explain American foreign policy in the Third World during the Eisenhower administration. Be sure to discuss Iran, Guatemala, and Vietnam.

· The Civil Rights Movement gained momentum in the 1950s, nearly ninety years after Reconstruction. Explain why the movement finally took off in the 1950s. What caused it to do so? Be sure to think back to previous chapters.



· How did John F. Kennedy’s foreign policy agenda envision new initiatives aimed at countering communist influence in the world? How successful was Kennedy’s foreign policy?

· 1968 was a turbulent year. Describe the events of 1968, both domestically and globally, and their significance in both the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement.

· Compare the civil rights movement in the South with that in the North. Be sure to discuss methods, leadership, and issues that were being addressed, and the success of each.