Fredrick Douglass Significant Contribution to American History Paper

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Independent Research Paper: Biography

Assignment: Choose an individual who interests you and who you feel made a significant contribution to this period of American history. Research this individual using a variety of resources. Write a research paper (minimum 1,000 words).

Goals: Students will

Use multiple resources to improve understanding

Conduct in depth research

Ask their own questions and seek answers

Interpret and analyze primary sources

Some ideas for topics:

John Smith

John Rolfe

Cecilius Calvert

John Winthrop

Roger Williams

Anne Hutchinson

William Penn

George Whitefield

Olaudah Equiano

Patrick Henry

Benjamin Franklin

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Abigail Adams

Thomas Paine

James Madison

Alexander Hamilton

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Henry David Thoreau

Andrew Jackson

Frederick Douglass

Susan B. Anthony

John Brown

Clara Barton

Jefferson Davis

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Eli Whitney

William Lloyd Garrison

Thaddeus Stevens

Any U.S. president from this period except Washington, Lincoln & Jefferson

1. Choose an individual who has made a significant contribution to American history during the period covered by this course. Research your chosen individual. (See list for suggestions).

2. Use multiple sources in your research. Minimum requirement for paper is four sources.

Must include: 2 primary sources (print or web)

1 print source (other than text book). This must be a secondary source. This can be a book or a published journal paper.

3. Write a research paper (Minimum 1,000 words) in correct MLA format. See for information on how to write a paper in correct MLA format.

4. Your paper must be divided into four sections. Each section must have a heading.

1. Introduction: An introduction containing a thesis statement. Thesis statement must be in bold.

2. Historical Context: An explanation of the historical context of your subject’s actions. What is the background for their actions? What period in American history do they relate to? What is going on at the time in America that explains or motivates their actions?

3. Significant Contributions: An explanation of the significant contributions of your subject. What were their major contributions? What did they achieve? Why are they in the history books?

4. Research questions. Ask and answer 2 or 3 analytical questions about your subject. These should not be factual questions. As you research, think of questions you have that you can include in this section, and research the answers.

5. Paper must include in text citations and a works cited page (MLA format). Clearly identify print and web sources. Divide works cited into two sections:

a. Primary Sources

b. Secondary Sources

6. Include a word count. Paper must be submitted on canvas. Late papers will receive a 10% deduction. There will be a 100% deduction for plagiarizing. Paper must be complete when turned in.

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