Paper Topic and Bibliography Assignment

• Basic stuff:
• 5 pages
• 12 point font
• double spaced
• no goofy fonts
• heading with name, date, which class (T/TH HIS202),
• title (which is not “Research Essay” or the topic name–you can do better)
Required Sources:
• 3 scholarly articles (i.e. use the Cal Poly library academic search databases) or books minimum
• 1 primary source
Other Sources:

• textbook
• websites are acceptable if they are from a scholarly source, such as a university or established educational organization
The Essay itself:
• include introduction with a thesis statement (argument about your topic)
• include basic information about event, including significant dates
• 4-6 body paragraphs containing specific evidence to illustrate your points and make connections to your thesis at the end
• the primary source should be quoted/referenced in your text
• conclusion
• the standard format you know best is fine, so it can be APA, MLA, Chicago. You can find proper citation information at
• creating headings for primary and secondary sources
• do not include the 5 lines of internet gobbledygook that you get on some of the urls. The homepage website is fine, but it needs to be cited appropriately for the format you have chosen.
What Not to Do
• DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Ever. You will save yourself a lot of time and trouble by citing your source. When in doubt, cite. If you read it somewhere else, it is not your idea so give credit where credit is due. Depending too much on other sources and letting me know that you did so through citations may lower your grade, but it will not get you kicked out of college. So cite.
• Do not use shady or general web sources.Some random person’s thoughts on the topic are not a legitimate source, and my elementary school son uses Wikipedia, so I expect more of you–you are smatter than a 5th grader. Those basic encyclopedia sources will not have the depth that you need for this project, do not use them.
• Do not write a report. This is a paper with an argument. You can assume I know what happened, so make and argument and draw conclusions about the information that you are presenting.
• Do not include questions. You are answering questions, not asking them. They have no place in formal writing because they do not move your argument forward.

Paper Topic and Bibliography Assignment
You need to choose a topic for your research paper. It needs to fall within the chronological definition of the course (roughly 1870s-1990s) and be specific enough that you can reasonable cover it in 5 pages. So something like “Johnson’s Great Society” or “Women and World War II” is way too broad (you could write a 5 volume series on those topics). However, focusing on the advocacy for Head Start (on program that was part of the Great Society) or the debates around women, particularly middle class women, doing factory work, would work well.
You cannot cover all of an event, movement, or individual’s life, so you need to decide which aspect you are going to bring to the surface. If you want to choose a famous figure, looking at his or her role in a movement or a specific accomplishment works well. For example, “Martin Luther King” is too broad, but “The Memphis Sanitations Strike” works well. To get full credit, you need to have a history topic that I believe you can adequately cover in 5 pages.
As far as the bibliography goes, I am looking for good, academic sources. While websites are allowed, they cannot be the basis of your paper. You need to have about 50-75 pages of scholarly material to work with. This means if you find scholarly articles that are 3 pages long, you have not done much more than check the box, and this will not lead to solid paper.

Books are great and you can also use them selectively. If you have a biography of Eugene Debbs, for instance, you can ignore most of his childhood and focus on the years that are relevant to the Pullman Strike if that is your topic. The bibliography also needs to be in APA or MLA format. For questions about that, see

Be sure that you are using scholarly sources found in the appropriate databases, as discussed in the Module 3 Library video. If you are struggling to find sources, the research help desk is staffed by amazing people who want nothing but to help you and they are available online. You can also contact either of the subject librarians for history.

Discussion Questions

1. Women’s Rights
This is a era with some improvements for women. Granted, middle class white women benefited the most from these changes. What benefits do pick up? To what extent are women of other races and classes able to benefit from these improvements?

2. Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Review the video on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 found here:

How do the issues that the predominantly female workers face reflect the larger concerns of the labor movements at this time?

While is this is certainly a story of the labor movement (and its limitations), it also reflects many of the other themes that emerged around the turn of the century. Let’s think about some of the other “isms” in this story. How does it reflect other key elements of culture at the turn of the 20th century beyond the labor movement?

3. Progressive Politics
Both Teddy Roosevelt and Taft are elected due to the popularity of the Progressive party. Given that there have been decades with few champions for workers, what changes have allowed for the political success of these politicians? In what ways to factory owners and those who have traditionally had the most political influence still maintain theirs?

Research Guide–Finding Sources
For Primary Sources:
Scholarly Sources:
For Help:

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