History 111 - Primary Research Document Assignment

The Assignment. This is the first of two pieces required for the History 111 Research Project and Teach-In. It is worth 25 points - or 20 percent - of the total 125 points for this project. For this assignment, you will pick any topic in American History that occurred after 1950 - something that is related to your major, your hobbies, your passion or outside interests, etc. This should be interesting research - something you want to learn more about. If you need some ideas, talk with your professor before attempting to complete this assignment. This assignment - which is just the first part of your research - is due at the beginning of class on October 6th.

The following three types of resources are required for completing this assignment:

For most of this assignment, you may use the Internet. For the other part of the assignment, you may need to go to the Library. There are five parts and questions within each part. Be sure to answer all questions. THIS MUST BE SUBMITTED IN TYPEWRITTEN FORM. Have fun - and remember, this is your topic!

Part I: Describe your topic and why you selected it . Please address the following:

  1. In three sentences or less, explain the topic you plan to research in at least two specific sentences. (Example: I want to learn more about how surfing developed in the United States over the last two centuries. I am specifically interested in the evolution of surf boards - long to short - and the way these boards are used to make surfing more exciting and interesting.)
  2. In three sentences or less, explain why you selected this topic. (Example: I have been surfing for years, as has my father and grandfather. They used long boards but I use a short board and I am interested in how these evolved over the past three generations of surfers.)

Part II: Conduct Primary Document Research. You are required to consult at least two primary documents during the course of your research. A primary source is:

Please note:  A primary document is NOT your main source of research material!  It must be one of the above.  To find more about primary documents and how they differ from secondary documents, go to Princeton University's website at If you have any further questions about primary documents and how to find them, please speak with your professor, the teaching assistants, or the research librarian.

Please address the following about your primary research documents.

  1. Find at least one primary document - diary, speech, manuscript, letter, interview, newspaper article, autobiography, official record - that is relevant to your topic. Then, address the following:
    • What is the title of the document and who was the author?
    • In at least three sentences, explain the main point of the document.
    • In at least three sentences, explain what you read in this document that might help you with your research.
  2. Find a creative primary work - a photograph, music, art, poetry, dramatic production - that might help you with your research project. Then, address the following:
    • In at least three sentences, describe the primary work that you found
    • In at least three sentences, describe how it will help you with your research project.

Part III: Select a person to interview who has first-hand knowledge of your topic. You are required to conduct an oral interview with a person who has first-hand knowledge and understanding of your topic. To begin thinking about your interview, address the following.

  1. Who might you want to interview for your research. In three sentences or less, describe how they might be able to provide you with helpful information about your topic.
  2. List at least five questions that relate to the history of your topic and that you think you might want to ask this person. (These are only preliminary questions that will undoubedly change as your research on the topic progresses.)

Part IV: Select secondary resources. You are required to consult at least one secondary resource for your research project. Secondary resources are:

For the purposes of this research, a book on your topic is preferred. If no book is available, you must use at least 3 major journal articles. There is no need to buy either a book or article because you can use our library. Go to the Library's home page at  and conduct a search for a book on your topic. Select one possible book or three articles to use in your research.

If you have selected a book, address the following about your secondary research choice:

  1. What is the title and who is the author?
  2. Is the book historical fiction or non-fiction?
  3. In no more than five sentences, explain why you selected and book and how you think it might help you with your research.

If you have selected to use three articles, address the following about your secondary research choice:

  1. List the title and authors of your three articles, the title of the journal in which they were published, and the dates they were published.
  2. In no more than three sentences for each article, explain why you selected each of these articles and how each of them might help you with your research.

Part V: Thinking ahead. In the space below, think about the following and jot down your thoughts.

  1. What remains to be done - what further information is necessary to understand the history of my topic?
  2. Where are the gaps in my research at this point? What information do I still need to complete my research?
  3. Where might I go to get the information I don't currently have to complete my assignment?