United States History II
Service High School
Introduction and Rubric
Every spring semester, every seminar sophomore must write an 8-10 page research paper in their Seminar U.S. History. The term paper process includes several steps to make this process more manageable, and to teach you how to conduct historical research. Students who earn the best grades are proactive in this process, and complete every step on time. This also means that you cannot wait to the last minute to write this paper and expect to earn a passing grade. We are going to start the process early and continue this throughout the entire semester.
What you NEED to know:
→ The term paper process will count on your 4th quarter grade. The final submission of your
term paper will count on your fourth quarter grade. See rubric on pages 2 and 3 for a more
detailed breakdown of point distribution.
→ The research paper itself must be handed in with all supplemental materials on the date it is
due during the period you have U.S. History or American Studies.
→ Be sure to save all notes, outlines and rough drafts. These materials must be turned in with
your paper. These items prove that the paper is your own original work!
→ If you are absent for whatever reason the paper still must be handed in on time! Papers are considered late after the period you have U.S. History. Check your computers, printers and storage devices in advance. ☺
Definition of a Research Paper
The research paper is a long essay presenting your own interpretation or evaluation or argument
about a topic or question. Information is taken from diverse sources that must be cited throughout the paper. You build upon what you know about a subject through your research to find out what experts know.
There are two types of research papers. Informational research papers summarize and present factual information in a coherent and organized way. Analytical papers present factual information and draw conclusions from the evidence presented. Often an analytical paper will explore a question. The analytical paper that explores a question has some elements of persuasive writing in that the writer's conclusion is an opinion derived from the factual evidence.
Analysis in research papers involves breaking down a topic into its parts so you can understand it. You do research to become an expert on the topic so you can present it from your own perspective. For example, you could analyze or evaluate the culture of protest movements during the 1960’s and 1970’s for an analytical paper.
If your research paper is exploring a question it needs to support one side or the other for you to be able to draw a conclusion. The paper that explores a question is analytical, but uses information to support your point. For example, you could find research to back up your point that protest movements during the 1960’s and 1970’s were instrumental in bringing an end to our involvement in the Vietnam War. This is a very different focus than evaluating the protest movement culture during the 1960’s. As you explore a question you will use evidence to support a perspective on a topic.
Procedure for a Research Paper/Schedule of Due Dates
The following steps are suggested in preparing a research paper:
1. Choose a general topic.
2. Find a variety of information sources on the subject (monographs, reference books,
magazines, videos, library databases, etc) and make a preliminary reference list.
3. Limit the subject based on your initial information search and develop a question.
4. Read and research extensively and take notes on note cards.
5. Sort note cards into related stacks.
6. Make a trial outline.
7. Read and take more notes on weak areas.
8. Revise the outline.
9. Prepare the bibliography.
10. Write a first draft with endnotes.
11. Revise and rewrite draft copies.
12. Prepare the final copy.
Schedule of Due Dates
You are expected to hand in each of the following on time. Unless you are legitimately absent from school, the grades for each part will be lowered one letter grade for every day the assignment is late.
Selecting a Topic/Developing a Research Question
Remember that a topic is what a research paper is about. It provides a focus for the writing. Stick
with one major topic in your paper.
Choose a topic that is of interest to you – you will be examining it all semester.
The topic must deal wth U.S. history in some form – social, political, economic, religious, military,diplomatic, etc.
The topic must do one of the following:
explore a thought provoking and controversial question
compare two events or people in history
evaluate an event or person
Topics that are unacceptable:
∅ Conspiracy theories – Who shot JFK?
∅ Straight biography – You may choose a topic dealing with one person but not in biography
format. Ask a question like “Did William Lloyd Garrison help or hurt the abolition
movement.” You will spend very little of the paper discussing his early life.
A research question allows you to look at a topic from a certain perspective and draw a conclusion from your research. While the Colt Firearms Factory and Samuel Colt are topics, asking the question “What effect did the Colt Empire have on Hartford?” allows you to make a point and draw a conclusion.
Choose a question that is not too broad or too narrow. If you want to write about Colt, you might
ask these questions:
1. Who was Samuel Colt?
2. How did Colt’s pursuits affect American History?
3. What effect did the Colt Empire have on Hartford?
Question “1” is too narrow. It can be answered in one sentence. Question “2” is too broad because you might have to explore several topics from his invention of the revolver to his contributions to the Civil War and you might lose focus. Question “3” is focused enough to stick to one topic, yet broad enough to research in some depth.
When you are developing a research question be sure to choose a topic that actually can be
researched. List all the questions you would like answered. Do a preliminary search to see what
kind of sources are available for research. Read an overview source (a source that summarizes the main points of your topic) to help you choose the best question for your research. The perspective from which you choose to explore your research question will develop into your
After choosing a topic you must hand in the topic approval sheet. All topics need to be
approved by your teacher. Also, you may not change your topic without your teacher’s
Some Topic Suggestions
This list is by no means all-inclusive. These are simply topics, not research questions or thesis
suggestions. These topics are meant to spark your thoughts.
American Loyalists/Tories –Impact during the war
Evaluate the Articles of Confederation – strengths and weaknesses
Constitutional Convention- debate, arguments and compromises
The role of the Federalist Papers in constitutional ratification
The constitutional debate over the Alien and Sedition Acts
The development and legacy of Hamilton and Jefferson’s political philosophies
The significance of Shays’ Rebellion and/or the Whiskey Rebellion
Evaluating the extent of Jefferson’s domestic and foreign policies. Did he live up to his own
The impact and legacy of Jacksonian Democracy
The significance of the War of 1812
The United States policy towards Native Americans- Research of a specific tribe or nation
John Marshall and the development of the Supreme Court.
Evaluate the significance of a specific Supreme Court decision; Marbury vs. Madison, Gibbons Vs.Ogden, Brown vs. Board of Education
The causes, consequences and controversies of the Mexican American War
Evaluate the philosophy and Manifest Destiny and its impact on American development
Evaluate the causes of the Civil War- Was it inevitable?
The legacy of Reconstruction? – To what extent was it a success or failure?
Evaluate the accomplishments of the Progressives or Populists
The origins and significance of any third party
The significance of a specific political election: presidential, congressional etc.
Compare and contrast presidential policy of a specific issue: Ex: Hoover and Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression
Evaluate the foreign policy and legacy of Woodrow Wilson: idealist or realist?
Evaluate the significance and legacy of a political scandal (Ex: Teapot Dome, Iran-Contra, CreditMoblier)
Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the Republican presidents of the 1920’s.
Evaluate the impact and legacy of FDR’s New Deal – To what extent did it bring about positive
Research the causes of the Great Depression
How did the United States of America dig itself out of the Great Depression?
The origins and development of the American welfare state
The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II
The rise of McCarthyism
The dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima
The causes and consequences of the Reagan Revolution
President __________ and the Civil Rights Movement
Presidential policy towards the Vietnam conflict
The 1st amendment in the 20th Century
The legacy of the 1968 Democratic National Convention
Watergate: causes, consequences, legacy
Social and Intellectual History
Analyzing art, literature, music and or fashion of certain times: Use this theme to discuss a larger
political, economic or social issue. Example: How did music during the Vietnam era reflect the
sentiment of the population? How did Women’s fashion during the 19th century reflect gender norms
The growth and evolution of Glastonbury
An examination of the evolution of ideal beauty across time periods
The effect of a war on the American populace- Choose a war, examine popular culture
The significance of the Scopes Trial
Capital Crime and Punishment in early America
Contributions of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Jacksonian Era reforms (temperance, education, prisons, suffrage)
The Hudson River School and cultural nationalism
The significance of Nat Turner and/or John Brown’s slave revolts
Racial attitudes of antebellum north
Compare and contrast the goals, tactics and impact of two abolitionists
The role of women on southern plantations
Compare and contrast the philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois
The Women’s Suffrage Movement: compare/contrast two suffragettes or feminist activists
The significance of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848
The significance of the prohibition of alcohol
Progressive Era Reforms: trust busting, muckrakers, temperance etc.
The development of the labor movement: Knights of Labor, AFL,
The changing role of women during the 1920’s
Significance of The Gospel of Wealth, Social Darwinism
Nativism during the 19th or 20th centuries
The rise and impact of the Ku Klux Klan (Pick one time period: 1870’s, 1920’s, 1960’s)
The significance of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial and conflict during the 1920’s
The significance and impact of the Harlem Renaissance
Origins of Jazz and/or The Blues
How did the Great Depression change the social fabric of American life?
Contribution of blacks, women or Natives Americans during World War II
The role of women in America in the post WWII period
The impact of World War II on politics, economics, social issues
The Red Scare- compare and contrast the one in the 1920’s and 1950’s
McCarthyism’s impact on the U.S.
Popular culture and mass media during the 1950’s
Jackie Robinson’s contribution to Major League Baseball desegregation and Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement- Choose one (significant legislation, impact of a particular political
leader, impact of a particular event or activist, success and failures)
The impact of the Black Panthers on the Civil Rights Movement. Were they a help or hindrance?
The Nation of Islam – origins, goals, impact on the Civil Rights Movement
The effect of Kent State on public opinion
The evolution of the women’s movement 1950-1970 – Goals, successes, challenges, activists.
The impact of Betty Freidan’s “The Feminine Mystique”
The rise of the American suburb and changes its significance on U.S. geography, demography etc.
The African-American northern migration of the 1950’s
The environmental movement
Significance of Cesar Chavez and the Migrant Farm Workers Movement
Effectiveness of Title IX on equal rights for women in education and the professional spheres.
Religion in America
The legacy of Puritan Philosophy in America
The Quaker experience
The Great Awakening
The Mormons in 19th century America
Anti-Semitism in American History
The significance of the Scopes Monkey Trial
The rise of conservative religious fundamentalism and its impact
The causes of the war of 1812 or Mexican War– Was it a justified war?
Contribution of black soldiers during the Civil War
Civil War draft policies and riots
The Indian Wars
The causes and impact of the Spanish American War
Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders
US Military intervention (Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic etc.)
Was the use of the atomic bomb necessary to defeat the Japanese in World War II
Examine the roles of women during the Civil War, World War I or World War II
The Truman –Macarthur debate during the Korean War
The Bay of Pigs fiasco
Significance of the Cuban Missile Crisis
The significance of the Mai Lai Massacre on U.S. public opinion
The evolution of the Peace Corps
Choose a war, and examine the impact of the American Home front
The causes, outcome and significance of a particular battle in U.S. History. (Battle of
Saratoga -Revolution, Battle of Gettysburg - Civil War, The Battle of Midway and
Coral Sea - WWII)
The significance of French Aid in the American Revolution
The Quasi-War with France
The Louisiana Purchase
The impact of the Monroe Doctrine
Evaluation of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Stick Diplomacy”
American Imperialism at the dawn of the 20th century- Empire building
The Open Door Policy and Asia
Wilson’s foreign policy at the end of World War I – Fourteen Points
Why did the U.S. engage in World War I?
Successes, failures and long term impact of the Treaty of Versailles
American foreign policy during the 1920’s
An evaluation of the Marshall Plan
An evaluation of Yalta Agreement
An evaluation of the containment policy in Europe
Origins of the Cold War
Impact of the Cold War on America’s relations in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia or Europe
The origins of the Vietnam War
United States involvement and policies regarding the creation of Israel
American-Chinese relations 1949-2000
Significance of Hamilton’s Financial Plan
New England and the slave trade
Economics of slavery
Economic factors contributing to American sectionalism
The impact of the cotton gin
The operation of the plantation system
The tariff issue of 1828
The significance of the Transcontinental Railroad
The rise of Industry and its impacts in the late 19th century
The Robber Barons and Captains of Industry
Labor protest in the 19th century
The origins and impact of the Great Depression
Evaluate the successes and failures of the New Deal: Did it snap the U.S. out of the Great
Evaluate the impact of the LBJ’s Great Society. Short and long term impact
Evaluate the economic philosophy of President Reagan. Were “Reaganonmics a success or failure