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Ekstrom Library

HIST 528/612 Recent American History 1929-1945: Assignment

Research Paper: Recent American History 1929-1945

The Assignment:

In this assignment you will produce a piece of original historical research and writing. This research paper comprises 30% of your grade.  There will be several small assignments along the way toward the completion of the paper. The final paper is due in class on November 25.


The purpose of this assignment is to have you practice the work of a historian. That means identifying a historical question, searching for original sources (that is, sources produced at the time) that help to answer the question, reading secondary materials (that is, things written after the fact by a historian or other) and putting your information in its broader context, and then writing a persuasive argument convincing me of your conclusions and your answer to the original question.


  • Papers should make use of a minimum of four secondary and four primary sources. The more primary sources the better. 
  • The more original and unedited the primary source the better--use as few as possible sources quoted in another work.
  • Do not use current popular press magazine articles for secondary sources. 
  • Do not use encyclopedia articles, dictionary entrees etc as one of your minimum number of sources.


  • Using secondary or primary source without a proper citation is plagiarism
  • Papers must be footnoted using the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian.  Do Not Use MLA!!!
  • Papers should also include a bibliography


  • This paper should be on a question about some aspect of United States history during the period covered by the class.  Papers should not address questions about other countries, nor should they stray into later time periods.
  • This paper is meant to address a historical question; that is, one that can be answered with historical evidence. Papers should not address rhetorical or philosophical questions. Nor should they ask “what if?” Also avoid papers that seek to prove the importance of some event. Importance is ambiguous, hard to prove, and often too deeply enmeshed in other issues to establish in a semester-long project.
  • This paper is meant to provide an analysis of evidence. It should NOT be just a story or just a narrative. 
  • We will discuss in more depth the nature of proper topics in class.



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