Crisis in United States History
Task one – For your research project, select a moment of crisis in United States History
As you are selecting your topic, consider what triggered this crisis and who was most
impacted? In moments of crisis people often demonstrate resilience and create change.
Within your topic where do you see this?
Once you have chosen your topic, you will need to learn a little more about it. Preliminary
research is not meant as a final destination and many of the sources you use at this stage
will not be acceptable as you progress. Sources for this stage might include secondary
sources like your textbook, reputable websites, and yes, even Wikipedia and Encyclopedia
Britannica. Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica should never end up in your proposal.
Because the goal of preliminary research is to familiarize you with a topic, by the end of
this step you should understand the breadth of your topic and be ready to go into greater
depth. This step can enhance the quality of your research question and keyword searches,
in addition to improving the creativity of the online archives you find.
Task two: Write a proposal. The proposal should come after you have selected a topic and
done the preliminary research to familiarize yourself with the topic.
Your proposal will contain the following:
● Your topic
● An analytical research question informed by preliminary research
● The *sources* you will use to both contextualize your research and provide
evidence for your argument. Please provide citations of sources in a
bibliography for the proposal (you will use footnotes in the research essay
*Sources* should include the following:
1. At least 2 scholarly articles: https://www.jstor.org/
2. At least 2 primary sources from archives. Archives house the original primary
sources of history. Our own CSM library has an archive and a guide to using
Writing your essay:
Write a 3-5 page research essay informed by your sources.
In a traditional research essay, students use secondary sources, like scholarly articles and
monographs, to build background and context. Primary sources, like letters, newspapers,
paintings, photographs, etc., used during the research phase to answer your question,
then provide evidence of your argument. Analysis binds the paper together, explaining to the
reader how the evidence you provide supports the argument you are making.
● Introduction and background: in an essay, this is where you introduce your
argument and provide the reader with context.
● Evidence and analysis: in an essay, these are the “supporting” paragraphs. Most
of the sources used here will be primary.
● Conclusion: as in a traditional essay, bring your ideas together in this final
passage and link to a wider understanding of your topic.
● Citations: use footnote citations, not parenthetical citations, as outlined in the
Chicago Manual of Style
The rest of your paper will be graded for grammar, spelling, and quality of sources.