Who Can Help Me With Finding American History Topics for a Research Paper?

If you are looking for someone to help you find a topic in American history for a research paper, then these are some places to look. But first you should be clear about what a research paper is and what it is not.

A research paper is not a review. It is not a summary. It is a well-written argument with a point of view. Your point of view should come about as a result of the research. Assuming you are writing a research paper in American history to satisfy the requirements of a class in American history, you already have some knowledge of American history. You need to pick a narrow subject to focus in on. The more narrow your focus, the easier it will be to write.

So, to begin, put away the books and brainstorm a list of the topics that you have studied already in your class. Take your list and go out and talk with people who can help you find a topic for your American history research paper.

Who can you talk to?

  • The reference librarian
  • A graduate student
  • A student who has already taken the same class

Show your list to them and ask them if they know anything interesting to write about in reference to one of the topics that you already know a little something about.

Talk to the Reference Librarian

You are going to have to go to the library, so the easiest place to start is with the reference librarian. Let’s say that you have Franklin Delano Roosevelt on your list. The reference librarian might suggest you research the plot to overthrow the White House during FDR’s presidency. In 2004, there was a fictionalized historical novel based on fascists taking staging a coup d’etat against Roosevelt. You could research the real story behind the story.

Have a visit with a Graduate Student

Or perhaps you visit a graduate student, and she turns you on to a book by Howard Zinn that your professor hasn’t mentioned in class yet. Zinn’s book on American history covers a large span of time: from 1492 to 1980. Perhaps something in there will pique your interest and be a stimulus for conducting further research.

Ask a Former Student

You could have a talk with a student who took the class before, show them the list, and they might tell you that the professor seemed to have a fascination with the history of the CIA. You could investigate John Stockwell and see if there is any independent corroboration of the claims he made in his book, In Search of Enemies.  

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