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Writing History Essay Papers

Essay papers are based on various topics and perspectives. Almost all subjects can be discussed in essays, especially History, which is amenable to research, discussion, and debate. The world has a long tradition of reading and writing essays on various historical topics. Writing the History paper requires a lot of hard work and the ability to make sense of huge amounts of material.

The history essay requires a different focus from the literature or science essay. Here, you deal with facts and assumptions. Facts are verifiable, but assumptions are not. Using these, you have to have your own stand, your own focus or thesis for the essay. The thesis should be strong and clear with proper reasons and research supporting it.

Topic Example 1: “What role did the policies of the post-World War I world play in the events leading to World War II?

Topic Example 2: Compare and contrast Mussolini and Hitler.

Topic Example 3: Discuss the causes leading to the end of the Cold War.

            For each of these topics, you would need to know the basic facts related to the events mentioned. This involves a high degree of research involving primary and secondary sources. A lot of information is available online; however, the hard core work of visiting libraries and information centers, browsing through catalogs, and jotting down notes meticulously, has always been the hallmark of history students and writers.

            The material you gather now needs categorization. For example, if you were to compare and contrast Mussolini and Hitler, you need to know which bits of information to retain and which to discard. Does everything with a Mussolini or Hitler tag fit into your paper? Once you have done the work of sifting material, it is now time to start writing. So you know the basic differences between the two leaders. Which of these will you focus on? What is the basis for this focus? Is it their ideological similarities and /or differences? Is it their similarity or difference of outlook or of their way of working, their pedagogy, or their political machinations? Before you state your thesis, you have to be clear about this aspect. What is the basis for or reasons behind your thesis?

            Your thesis is in place. This is what you want to discuss in the rest of the paper. Now, you need the specific evidence or material for this discussion. How do you understand the material before you? Do you rely solely on critics and writers, or do you also want to interpret the material you have and reach your own conclusions? This is where a solid understanding of source usage is important. You have to interpret the ideas behind the material you have collated, the source of the interpretations in them, or the reasons behind any particular interpretation or assumption.

Writing history essay papers requires a lot of hard work and research potential, as well as the ability to present random material in a well organized homogenous paper. While it doesn’t make a historian of you, it certainly teaches you to interpret historians’ logic in asserting ideas and talking about events and personalities.

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