HOW TO WRITE A HISTORY ESSAY

Taking a survey/intro level history class? Need some help writing that essay? Here is how to ace it in six steps
  1. 1.
    Thesis
    Make sure you have a thesis NOT a topic. A topic is generally a summary or re-wording of the prompt. A thesis is an argument. It can be disagreed with and potentially disproven. Make sure your thesis is HISTORICAL not universal. I.e. NOT Transportation needs have always shaped urban centers. INSTEAD In the early 20th century growing automobile use began to reshape the structure of American cities.
  2. 2.
    3-5 Reasons You Are Right
    These should be supported by your reading and research. They should also take historical context into account.
  3. 3.
    Outline
    No better way to overcome the terror of a blinking cursor on a blank doc. Also, keeps your essay organized. Think of it like a skeleton.
  4. 4.
    Building a Paragraph
    Topic sentence (What is the ONE idea that this paragraph is about?). Evidence (make sure you introduce and explain the context and significance of each quote you use). Transition sentence (how does this paragraph connect to the rest of your essay?)
  5. 5.
    Use Primary Sources
    Shorter quotes are generally better. 1-3 references per paragraph. Remember, you can reference a source without including a quotation. ALWAYS ask yourself: Who is the author of this? How is their opinion relevant to my argument? How might this source be biased/inaccurate/specifically insightful? ALWAYS ALWAYS CITE!
  6. 6.
    Edit
    Minimum editing can be done in 1-2 hours. Check your argument and organization by reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph to someone else. Ask them what your essay is about. Check your grammar, punctuation and typos by reading your paper slowly aloud to yourself--you will hear things you couldn't see.