College history papers

Making Sure your History Paper has Substance. Get off to a good start. Avoid pretentious, vapid beginnings. If you are writing a paper on, say, British responses to.
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Most of this evidence should come from primary sources.


In history, this means a source that gives direct evidence from the time studied. These could be texts i. Primary sources offer immediacy and are the heart of any historical discussion. You will also need secondary sources scholarly works written by experts who have studied primary sources.

While secondary sources lack firsthand knowledge, they offer breadth and hindsight. Quality secondary sources are by professional historians, and are usually published by academic presses, historical journals, or institutions. They usually have footnotes or endnotes. While books and printed materials remain key to historical research, many useful sources are now accessible online.

Always check where an online source comes from: sites with a. Pay attention to bibliographic information on the webpage; do not trust information unless you see and trust its origin.

Successful history papers should demonstrate your thought process. You already know to provide support for your argument—but your professors care just as much about what you do with your evidence as about the evidence itself. This means you must analyze the evidence for us, to weigh how well it supports your argument. Why did they write it? What is the genre of the source, and how does that influence its tone or content? Did the author write it at the time of the event being discussed, or later on? What is the context for your quote within the larger source?

The context adds nuance to your argument, and also shows that you understand the limits and the possibilities of your evidence. You can consider similar questions when analyzing evidence from a secondary source. The best papers also address evidence that could contradict your argument.

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Use a formula to develop a working thesis statement which you will need to revise later. Here are a few examples:. These formulas share two characteristics all thesis statements should have: they state an argument and they reveal how you will make that argument. They are not specific enough, however, and require more work. As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis.

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Here are examples of weak and strong thesis statements. You are the best and only! Your thesis is defenseless without you to prove that its argument holds up under scrutiny. The jury i. To prove thesis statements on historical topics, what evidence can an able young lawyer use?

Department of History | School of Arts and Sciences - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Remember -- if in doubt, talk to your instructor. See writing. Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument. What is an Argument? Provides a "hook" on which you can "hang" your topic sentences. Can and should be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. New evidence often requires you to change your thesis.

Gives your paper a unified structure and point. Keeps the reader focused on your argument. Signals to the reader your main points.

Model Papers from the Disciplines

Engages the reader in your argument. Tips for Writing a Good Thesis Find a Focus: Choose a thesis that explores an aspect of your topic that is important to you, or that allows you to say something new about your topic. Look for Pattern: After determining a general focus, go back and look more closely at your evidence. As you re-examine your evidence and identify patterns, you will develop your argument and some conclusions. For example, you might find that as industrialization increased, women made fewer textiles at home, but retained their butter and soap making tasks.

Strategies for Developing a Thesis Statement Idea 1.

Writing College History Papers

Refine As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis. Unspecific thesis: "Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong leader as First Lady. Why was Eleanor Roosevelt a strong leader? Unspecific thesis: "At the end of the nineteenth century French women lawyers experienced difficulty when they attempted to enter the legal profession. Specific thesis: "At the end of the nineteenth century French women lawyers experienced misogynist attacks from male lawyers when they attempted to enter the legal profession because male lawyers wanted to keep women out of judgeships.

Secondary sources: articles and books from your class that explain and interpret the historical event or person you are writing about, lecture notes, films or documentaries.