Archival/Historical Research Paper Assignment

Archival/Historical Research Paper Assignment. Archival/Historical Research Paper Assignment. Historians are interested in explaining the past of something or the way it came to be. They do this by going back to the records of the time and examining them directly—or as directly as possible. Putting different sources together, along with background knowledge of the topic, they come up with explanations of an event or phenomenon in its own time period, or how that phenomenon changes over time. The skills they employ—finding primary sources in online or physical archives, interpreting those sources, and presenting a coherent explanation of them in writing—are all skills that you will find useful in future academic work, whether it be specifically historical or not.

The presence of animals within the historical record is multi-faceted; there are a number of opportunities to ask questions about their roles and positions. For this assignment, you will formulate a research question focused upon one or more historical time frames and engage in research related to that period. Based upon this material, you will make an argument for either the role and significance of a particular type of animal within a specific historical setting or for a change in the societal perceptions of an animal between two different eras. This argument will need to be based in at least two primary documents that are, at minimum, 30 years old.

Potentially valid artifacts include (but are not necessarily limited to): magazines, newspapers, advertisements, family stories or photos, historical accounts or diaries, or actual objects from the time period. If you are unsure whether a particular artifact is appropriate, make sure to discuss it with me prior to beginning your essay.

There are two approaches you can take to this assignment:

As noted in class, synchronic historical papers treat a particular phenomenon as it exists in a particular time and context. For this kind of paper, you would investigate and draw conclusions about something in its own time, supporting your interpretations with references to specific historical primary documents: “This is the role horses played in the Civil War.”

Diachronic papers treat a particular phenomenon across time. Topics in this vein would include investigating the changes in the relationship between animals and man over the years (such as the increase of pets as opposed to working animals). You would need to find primary documents in a few different time periods to do this assignment effectively. (If you find two sources that are over 30 years old, you may also use more recent sources to establish the “now” of your argument.)

In either case, a successful response to this assignment will be at least 3-5 pages long. The paper should be in 12pt. Times New Roman font with 1” margins. It will also feature primary sources as the major support for the argument you make— with a conclusion that come as a result of your research. (You should include photographs, scans, or copies of the material you work with, either in the flow of the text or as an appendix, as appropriate)


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Archival/Historical Research Paper Assignment

Archival/Historical Research Paper Assignment

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