Final Paper

HIST 361: The American Revolution

Final Paper/project

The final paper/project requires students to write an individual research paper of 2500 words (about ten pages double-spaced) or create a digital project (of equivalent scope) in which they research upon a topic related to the course. This might involve revising and expanding upon an earlier blog post or digital project, using one of the digital tools we have learned to further explore a topic, or studying a primary source related to the American Revolution.

Step 1: Topic/Questions/Evidence Statement – Due Thursday, March 30, 4 pm

The start of a research paper involves a few steps:

  1. Find a topic specific enough to let you learn a reasonable amount of information about it. Unreasonable: the role of women in revolutionary protest. Reasonable: Mercy Otis Warren’s response to the Imperial Crisis.
  2. Question that topic until you find questions that catch your interest. For example, when did Warren respond to Stamp Act? How did she respond? Was she like or unlike other women of the time in her response?
  3. Determine what kind of evidence you need to support your answer. Do you need to use primary sources (her unpublished and published writings) or secondary sources (biographies of Warren)?
  4. Determine if that evidence is available to you. There’s no point starting research on a topic until you know you have a good chance of finding evidence about it.

For your first assignment, submit a one-paragraph summary of what your topic is, five questions you want to ask of your topic, and what sorts of evidence (primary and secondary sources) you need to explore this topic and where you can find it.

Step 2: Outlining and Bibliography – Due Tuesday, April 11, 10 pm

Once you’ve had a chance to delve into your topic and gather material, you are ready to start assembling it into a form that will help you write it up. Your outline has to incorporate four elements:

  1. Your thesis (what you are arguing)
  2. What other scholars argued about your topic
  3. What reasons support your thesis (statements to give your readers cause to accept your claim)
  4. What evidence supports your reasons (the historical facts that you find)

What you will submit should have a clearly identified thesis, an outline of your reasons and the evidence that supports them, and a list of the sources, primary and secondary, that you are using.

Step 3: Writing the Rough Draft – Due Monday, April 24th, 10 pm

Following your outline, write up a draft of your ten-page paper. Format it with one-inch margins, Times New Roman 12 pt Font, and double-spaced. Use footnotes for your sources in Chicago Manual of Style format. You should have:

  1. An introduction that lays out your subject and your argument
  2. A body of your paper or project with paragraphs with topic sentences and evidence
  3. A conclusion that summarizes your argument and gestures towards larger implications.

You might find it useful to write the introduction last, after you have worked through the argument in the body of the paper.

If you create a digital project, you will want to have a mock-up of the project with:

  1. An introduction page that lays out your subject and your argument
  2. A set of pages structured around your reasons and evidence
  3. A conclusion page that summarizes your argument and gestures towards larger implications.

Step 4: The Final Draft – Due Thursday, May 4, 4 pm

You will get feedback from Prof. Roberts on your rough draft on your argument, paper structure, and grammatical issues with your writing. Read through and think about those suggestions before you start revising. Ask yourself what you like about your paper as well as what you think could work better. After you make your edits put your paper aside for a day. Re-read it one last time, make any final edits, and hand it in.


Date Class Paper Stage
Thurs. March 16 Special Collections Visit Introduction
Thurs. March 23 Confederation and Constitution I
Thurs. March 30 Confederation and Constitution II Topic, Questions, Evidence statement due, 4 PM
Thurs. April 6 Washington, Adams, and US Expansion
Tues. April 11 EASTER BREAK – NO CLASS Outline and bibliography due, 10 PM
Thurs. April 20 Election of 1800 and Legacies of Revolution
Mon. April 24 NO CLASS Rough draft due, 10 PM
Thurs. May 4 Final paper due, 4 PM


The final grade for the paper/project will be out of 100 points. It will count for 20% of your final grade. Points will be assigned as follows (out of a maximum number of points):

  • One-Pager (12.5 points)
  • Outline (12.5 points)
  • Bibliography (12.5 points)
  • Rough Draft (12.5 points)
  • Final Paper (50 points)