How to Deal with a Paper on American History?
Do you remember those good old days of elementary school when your teacher asked you to write papers about the Independence Day or the first celebration of Christmas in America? You just needed to view a couple of pages in an encyclopedia or browse the first caught website on the Internet and your perfect paper was almost done!
Well, these wonderful times have passed. Now you are at college and life is much more complicated. Of course, you still can find a couple of facts and tailor them into a kind of an essay adding some superficial conclusions. But this won’t get you an A, my friend. More precisely, it won’t bring you even a passing grade.
So what should you do? Well, the answer is pretty simple: analysis.
Not sure that you know how to analyze a historical text? Well, that’s very likely, because writing a history paper is not like writing any other one. Read on to find out how to deal with this task without pain!
Choose a topic wisely
When writing a paper on American history, you always have a number of win-win topics. For example, Civil Rights Movement, World War II or JFK assassination always work. If you are lucky enough to choose a topic yourself, then make sure that you:
- Choose a topic you like and want to understand better;
- Don’t pick the one that is too narrow or too broad;
- Don’t choose a topic that wasn’t explored too much before.
Your task is to make an argument and analyze a historical event, not to write an entire handbook about it. You are limited to a couple of pages, so make sure that you define a focus clearly before you start writing. As a rule, historical events are many-sided, so there is a lot you can say about them. But what do you want to say? Think about some aspects you find interesting to analyze.
Mind that you don’t have to simply state some random facts or rewrite historical information you have found in a text book. You have Wikipedia for that. Your aim is to create an argument and demonstrate some understanding.
Researching a topic
By this time, you should have decided the main direction of your paper. So here comes the most time-consuming and energy expending part of paper writing: the research.
As you already know, there are primary and secondary sources. When it comes to American history papers, you should use both types. You will easily find a number of secondary sources, such as reviews, articles, and reviews. These are the sources that present information already analyzed by other researchers. You will find them absolutely necessary to get a full picture of the topic.
However, in most cases, secondary sources are not enough. You might also need original sources like letters, photos, or documents. This type of sources gives an alternative view on the topic and sometimes it is impossible to compose an A-winning paper without them.
Start writing with a good introduction and a thesis statement
It’s important to start with a good introduction and grab your readers’ attention from the very first words of your work. There is no “one size fits all” in this case, however make sure to avoid clichés and banal phrases. You don’t want your readers to fall asleep after a minute they start reading your work, do you?
So forget about something like “Martin Luther King gave hope to disadvantaged people.” Instead, start with an interesting quote or statistical data that will demonstrate the importance of your research and evoke interest in your readers’ minds.
- Thesis statement
Most students have problems with writing a good thesis statement and there are reasons for that. A really good one expresses the main point of your entire paper in a single sentence. A blurred thesis statement won’t tell readers much about your work, so make sure to be as focused as you can.
Let the analysis begin!
So you have already grown out of the age when you just took some points from a book and gave a small summary of them to consider your paper done. It is not enough for a college student to present facts and summarize them. Instead you have to analyze them.
What does it mean? For example, analyzing means explaining why someone became a historical leader at a certain moment of time instead of just stating it as a fact. Also, your analysis may focus on political, sociological or cultural aspects of some events and discovering the links between the historical and any other context.
Remember, that both primary and secondary sources will help you decide what point to discuss. Also, you will find supporting quotations for your arguments there. Use them appropriately! And never use quotations just to meet the word count.
At this point you need to wrap up the main arguments, restate your thesis and demonstrate your readers that your research is over. Make sure not to present new information in this paragraph. Instead, you can briefly state some arguments that need future development.
So keep focused, stay hydrated, and don’t stop writing! If you think that your writings are too weak to bring you the grades you want – don’t give up. Instead, make sure to find professional writing service and ask for some help!