General Information about Assignments

All papers must be based on both primary and secondary sources. Papers should not simply distill information from other secondary studies since the point of this exercise is to give students experience in doing first-hand historical research.

All papers must include footnotes and a bibliography or bibliographical essay presented in a full, clear, and consistent form.

Since this is a Communication Intensive Subject, students will normally be asked to rewrite at least one of the first two papers. In writing and rewriting the first two papers and in preparing their final papers, students are encouraged to consult the writing advisor assigned to this class.

Note that the purpose of rewrites is to improve the skills not only of students who have difficulty writing but also those who are already capable writers. Rewrites must be turned in within two weeks of when the original papers were handed back. Although there can be no rewrites of final papers, students are encouraged to go over drafts of the final paper with the writing tutor before preparing the final version.

First Paper (8 - 10 pages)

The first paper should:

  • Provide a succinct narrative of the event to be studied, from beginning to end (about five pages);
  • List the major questions (usually five to eight) and subsidiary questions for the entire event;
  • Designate one of the major questions for closer study in a final paper;
  • Explain why that question was chosen.

The paper must also include a bibliography of major sources on the event.

Second Paper (3 - 5 pages)

The second paper will provide an outline of the final paper, which will answer the question chosen in the previous paper. It will provide a bibliography for the specific topic of the paper that includes both primary and secondary sources — that is, documents of the time (newspaper articles, official reports, letters by people involved in the event, etc.) as well as subsequent studies.

The bibliography should also state where, particularly with regard to primary sources, those sources are available. Note that this bibliography is different from the general one submitted with the first paper, although some works will probably appear on both, and normally includes more primary sources.

Final Paper (15 - 18 pages)

The final paper will be a research paper on a riot, strike, or conspiracy not discussed in regular class meetings, but which applies the analytic techniques developed there.

Sample Student Final Paper

One of the final papers from a previous version of tthe class is presented here. All work is courtesy of the student named and used with permission.

The Continued Violence of the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 - Arian Shahdadi (PDF)