UCLA History Department

Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper.  It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant.  Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue.  Then, spend the rest of your paper–each body paragraph–fulfilling that promise.

Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction.  Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it.  View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper.  Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued.  If it does not, then revise it.  Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries.  Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.

A successful thesis statement:

  • makes an historical argument
  • takes a position that requires defending
  • is historically specific
  • is focused and precise
  • answers the question, “so what?”

How to write a thesis statement:

Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:

“Historians have debated the American Revolution’s effect on women.  Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women’s authority in the family.  Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics.  Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home.  Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women.”

Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.

While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt.  It needs to be more specific about how  the Revolution had a limited effect on women and  why it mattered that women remained in the home.

Revised Thesis:  The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office.  Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.

This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war).  However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home.  It needs to make an argument about some element of the war’s limited effect on women.  This thesis requires further revision.

Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family’s farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.

Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval.  Your thesis needs to be debatable:  it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue.  Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case.  Here is a revised version:

Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women.  With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses.  As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.

Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places.  In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what  attitudes toward women were in early America, and  how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.

This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper.  The terms “social,” “political,” and “economic” are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages.  The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women.  As “Republican Mothers,” women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands.  Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation’s politics than they had under British rule.

This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered.  How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics?  What were women able to do with these advantages?  Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.  Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.

Thesis Checklist

When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:

  • Does my thesis make an historical argument?
  • Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?
  • Is my thesis historically specific?
  • Is my thesis focused and precise?
  • Does my thesis answer the question, “so what?”

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How to Research and Write a Compelling History Thesis

student works on history thesis in university library

Just as history is more than a collection of facts about past events, an effective history thesis goes beyond simply sharing recorded information. Writing a compelling history thesis requires making an argument about a historical fact and, then, researching and providing a well-crafted defense for that position.

With so many sources available—some of which may provide conflicting findings—how should a student research and write a history thesis? How can a student create a thesis that’s both compelling and supports a position that academic editors describe as “concise, contentious, and coherent”?

Key steps in how to write a history thesis include evaluating source materials, developing a strong thesis statement, and building historical knowledge.

The Importance of Research for Writing a History Thesis

Compelling theses provide context about historical events. This context, according to the reference website ThoughtCo., refers to the social, religious, economic, and political conditions during an occurrence that “enable us to interpret and analyze works or events of the past, or even the future, rather than merely judge them by contemporary standards”.

The context supports the main point of a thesis, called the thesis statement, by providing an interpretive and analytical framework of the facts, instead of simply stating them. Research uncovers the evidence necessary to make the case for that thesis statement.

To gather evidence that contributes to a deeper understanding of a given historical topic, students should reference both primary and secondary sources of research.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are firsthand accounts of events in history, according to Professor David Ulbrich, director of Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program. These sources provide information not only about what happened and how it happened but also why it happened.

Primary sources can include letters, diaries, photos, and videos as well as material objects such as “spent artillery shells, architectural features, cemetery headstones, chemical analysis of substances, shards of bowls or bottles, farming implements, or earth or environmental features or factors,” Ulbrich says. “The author of the thesis can tell how people lived, for example, by the ways they arranged their material lives.”

Primary research sources are the building blocks to help us better understand and appreciate history. It is critical to find as many primary sources from as many perspectives as possible. Researching these firsthand accounts can provide evidence that helps answer those “what”, “how”, and “why” questions about the past, Ulbrich says.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are materials—such as books, articles, essays, and documentaries—gathered and interpreted by other researchers. These sources often provide updates and evaluation of the thesis topic or viewpoints that support the theories presented in the thesis.

Primary and secondary sources are complementary types of research that form a convincing foundation for a thesis’ main points.

How to Write a History Thesis

What are the steps to write a history thesis? The process of developing a thesis that provides a thorough analysis of a historical event—and presents academically defensible arguments related to that analysis—includes the following:

1. Gather and Analyze Sources

When collecting sources to use in a thesis, students should analyze them to ensure they demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the materials. A student should evaluate the attributes of sources such as their origin and point-of-view.

An array of primary and secondary sources can help provide a thorough understanding of a historical event, although some of those sources may include conflicting views and details. In those cases, the American Historical Association says, it’s up to the thesis author to determine which source reflects the appropriate point-of-view.

2. Develop a Thesis Statement

To create a thesis statement, a student should establish a specific idea or theory that makes the main point about a historical event. Scribbr, an editing website, recommends starting with a working thesis, asking the question the thesis intends to answer, and, then, writing the answer.

The final version of a thesis statement might be argumentative, for example, taking a side in a debate. Or it might be expository, explaining a historical situation. In addition to being concise and coherent, a thesis statement should be contentious, meaning it requires evidence to support it.

3. Create an Outline

Developing a thesis requires an outline of the content that will support the thesis statement. Students should keep in mind the following key steps in creating their outline:

  • Note major points.
  • Categorize ideas supported by the theories.
  • Arrange points according to the importance and a timeline of events addressed by the thesis.
  • Create effective headings and subheadings.
  • Format the outline.

4. Organize Information

Thesis authors should ensure their content follows a logical order. This may entail coding resource materials to help match them to the appropriate theories while organizing the information. A thesis typically contains the following elements.

  • Abstract —Overview of the thesis.
  • Introduction —Summary of the thesis’ main points.
  • Literature review —Explanation of the gap in previous research addressed by this thesis.
  • Methods —Outline how the author reviewed the research and why materials were selected.
  • Results —Description of the research findings.
  • Discussion —Analysis of the research.
  • Conclusion —Statements about what the student learned.

5. Write the Thesis

Online writing guide Paperpile recommends that students start with the literature review when writing the thesis. Developing this section first will help the author gain a more complete understanding of the thesis’ source materials. Writing the abstract last can give the student a thorough picture of the work the abstract should describe.

The discussion portion of the thesis typically is the longest since it’s here that the writer will explain the limitations of the work, offer explanations of any unexpected results, and cite remaining questions about the topic.

In writing the thesis, the author should keep in mind that the document will require multiple changes and drafts—perhaps even new insights. A student should gather feedback from a professor and colleagues to ensure their thesis is clear and effective before finalizing the draft.      

6. Prepare to Defend the Thesis

A committee will evaluate the student’s defense of the thesis’ theories. Students should prepare to defend their thesis by considering answers to questions posed by the committee. Additionally, students should develop a plan for addressing questions to which they may not have a ready answer, understanding the evaluation likely will consider how the author handles that challenge.

Developing Skills to Write a Compelling History Thesis

When looking for direction on how to write a history thesis, Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program can provide the needed skills and knowledge. The program’s tracks and several courses—taken as core classes or as electives in multiple concentrations—can provide a strong foundation for thesis work.

Master of Arts in History Tracks

In the Norwich online Master of Arts in History program, respected scholars help students improve their historical insight, research, writing, analytical, and presentation skills. They teach the following program tracks.

  • Public History —Focuses on the preservation and interpretation of historic documents and artifacts for purposes of public observation.
  • American History —Emphasizes the exploration and interpretation of key events associated with U.S. history.
  • World History —Prepares students to develop an in-depth understanding of world history from various eras.
  • Legal and Constitutional History —Provides a thorough study of the foundational legal and constitutional elements in the U.S. and Europe.

Master of Arts in History Courses

Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program enables students to customize studies based on career goals and personal interests through the following courses:

  • Introduction to History and Historiography —Covers the core concepts of history-based study and research methodology, highlighting how these concepts are essential to developing an effective history thesis.
  • Directed Readings in History —Highlights different ways to use sources that chronicle American history to assist in researching and writing a thorough and complete history thesis.
  • Race, Gender, and U.S. Constitution —Explores key U.S. Supreme Court decisions relating to national race and gender relations and rights, providing a deeper context to develop compelling history theses.
  • Archival Studies —Breaks down the importance of systematically overseeing archival materials, highlighting how to build historical context to better educate and engage with the public.

Start Your Path Toward Writing a Compelling History Thesis

For over two centuries, Norwich University has played a vital role in history as America’s first private military college and the birthplace of the ROTC. As such, the university is uniquely positioned to lead students through a comprehensive analysis of the major developments, events, and figures of the past.

Explore Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program. Start your path toward writing a compelling history thesis and taking your talents further.

Recommended Readings

Achieving Your Educational Goals: The Ultimate Guide to Getting the Most from a Master’s Degree      What Can I Do With a History Degree? Defining Different Career Tracks      What Is Digital History? A Guide to Digital History Resources, Museums, and Job Description

Writing History: An Introductory Guide to How History Is Produced , American Historical Association     How to Write a Thesis Statement , Scribbr     The Importance of Historic Context in Analysis and Interpretation , ThoughtCo.     7 Reasons Why Research Is Important , Owlcation     Primary and Secondary Sources , Scribbr     Secondary Sources in Research , ThoughtCo.     Analysis of Sources , History Skills     Research Paper Outline , Scribbr     How to Structure a Thesis , Paperpile     Writing Your Final Draft , History Skills     How to Prepare an Excellent Thesis Defense , Paperpile

Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument

Almost every assignment you complete for a history course will ask you to make an argument. Your instructors will often call this your "thesis"– your position on a subject.

What is an Argument?

An argument takes a stand on an issue. It seeks to persuade an audience of a point of view in much the same way that a lawyer argues a case in a court of law. It is NOT a description or a summary.

  • This is an argument: "This paper argues that the movie JFK is inaccurate in its portrayal of President Kennedy."
  • This is not an argument: "In this paper, I will describe the portrayal of President Kennedy that is shown in the movie JFK."

What is a Thesis?

A thesis statement is a sentence in which you state an argument about a topic and then describe, briefly, how you will prove your argument.

  • This is an argument, but not yet a thesis: "The movie ‘JFK’ inaccurately portrays President Kennedy."
  • This is a thesis: "The movie ‘JFK’ inaccurately portrays President Kennedy because of the way it ignores Kennedy’s youth, his relationship with his father, and the findings of the Warren Commission."

A thesis makes a specific statement to the reader about what you will be trying to argue. Your thesis can be a few sentences long, but should not be longer than a paragraph. Do not begin to state evidence or use examples in your thesis paragraph.

A Thesis Helps You and Your Reader

Your blueprint for writing:

  • Helps you determine your focus and clarify your ideas.
  • Provides a "hook" on which you can "hang" your topic sentences.
  • Can (and should) be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. New evidence often requires you to change your thesis.
  • Gives your paper a unified structure and point.

Your reader’s blueprint for reading:

  • Serves as a "map" to follow through your paper.
  • Keeps the reader focused on your argument.
  • Signals to the reader your main points.
  • Engages the reader in your argument.

Tips for Writing a Good Thesis

  • Find a Focus: Choose a thesis that explores an aspect of your topic that is important to you, or that allows you to say something new about your topic. For example, if your paper topic asks you to analyze women’s domestic labor during the early nineteenth century, you might decide to focus on the products they made from scratch at home.
  • Look for Pattern: After determining a general focus, go back and look more closely at your evidence. As you re-examine your evidence and identify patterns, you will develop your argument and some conclusions. For example, you might find that as industrialization increased, women made fewer textiles at home, but retained their butter and soap making tasks.

Strategies for Developing a Thesis Statement

Idea 1. If your paper assignment asks you to answer a specific question, turn the question into an assertion and give reasons for your opinion.

Assignment: How did domestic labor change between 1820 and 1860? Why were the changes in their work important for the growth of the United States?

Beginning thesis: Between 1820 and 1860 women's domestic labor changed as women stopped producing home-made fabric, although they continued to sew their families' clothes, as well as to produce butter and soap. With the cash women earned from the sale of their butter and soap they purchased ready-made cloth, which in turn, helped increase industrial production in the United States before the Civil War.

Idea 2. Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main Idea: Women's labor in their homes during the first half of the nineteenth century contributed to the growth of the national economy.

Idea 3. Spend time "mulling over" your topic. Make a list of the ideas you want to include in the essay, then think about how to group them under several different headings. Often, you will see an organizational plan emerge from the sorting process.

Idea 4. Use a formula to develop a working thesis statement (which you will need to revise later). Here are a few examples:

  • Although most readers of ______ have argued that ______, closer examination shows that ______.
  • ______ uses ______ and ______ to prove that ______.
  • Phenomenon X is a result of the combination of ______, ______, and ______.

These formulas share two characteristics all thesis statements should have: they state an argument and they reveal how you will make that argument. They are not specific enough, however, and require more work.

As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis. Here are examples of weak and strong thesis statements.

  • Unspecific thesis: "Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong leader as First Lady."  This thesis lacks an argument. Why was Eleanor Roosevelt a strong leader?
  • Specific thesis: "Eleanor Roosevelt recreated the role of the First Lady by her active political leadership in the Democratic Party, by lobbying for national legislation, and by fostering women’s leadership in the Democratic Party."  The second thesis has an argument: Eleanor Roosevelt "recreated" the position of First Lady, and a three-part structure with which to demonstrate just how she remade the job.
  • Unspecific thesis: "At the end of the nineteenth century French women lawyers experienced difficulty when they attempted to enter the legal profession."  No historian could argue with this general statement and uninteresting thesis.
  • Specific thesis: "At the end of the nineteenth century French women lawyers experienced misogynist attacks from male lawyers when they attempted to enter the legal profession because male lawyers wanted to keep women out of judgeships."  This thesis statement asserts that French male lawyers attacked French women lawyers because they feared women as judges, an intriguing and controversial point.

Making an Argument – Every Thesis Deserves Its Day in Court

You are the best (and only!) advocate for your thesis. Your thesis is defenseless without you to prove that its argument holds up under scrutiny. The jury (i.e., your reader) will expect you, as a good lawyer, to provide evidence to prove your thesis. To prove thesis statements on historical topics, what evidence can an able young lawyer use?

  • Primary sources: letters, diaries, government documents, an organization’s meeting minutes, newspapers.
  • Secondary sources: articles and books from your class that explain and interpret the historical event or person you are writing about, lecture notes, films or documentaries.

How can you use this evidence?

  • Make sure the examples you select from your available evidence address your thesis.
  • Use evidence that your reader will believe is credible. This means sifting and sorting your sources, looking for the clearest and fairest. Be sure to identify the biases and shortcomings of each piece of evidence for your reader.
  • Use evidence to avoid generalizations. If you assert that all women have been oppressed, what evidence can you use to support this? Using evidence works to check over-general statements.
  • Use evidence to address an opposing point of view. How do your sources give examples that refute another historian’s interpretation?

Remember -- if in doubt, talk to your instructor.

Thanks to the web page of the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Writing Center for information used on this page. See writing.wisc.edu/handbook for further information.

Handbook for Historians

  • Choosing a Paper Topic

What is a Thesis Statement?

How to develop a thesis statement.

  • What Sources Can I use?
  • Gathering sources
  • Find Primary Sources
  • Paraphrasing and Quoting Sources
  • How to create an Annotated Bibliography
  • Formatting Endnotes/Footnotes
  • Formatting Bibliographies
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Sample Papers
  • Research Paper Checklist

The thesis statement summarizes the central argument of your paper. It is placed at the top of the outline page, and appears again in the opening paragraph. A clearly stated thesis performs three functions:

  • it provides a focus for your research, helping to prevent time wasting digressions
  • it furnishes an organizational theme for the paper, which then becomes easier to write
  • it gives the reader precise knowledge of what the paper will argue, thereby making it easier to read

You cannot formulate a thesis statement until you know a great deal about your subject.  It is often wise to begin your research in pursuit of the answer to a question about your topic  - but this question is not a thesis statement. A helpful web site that can advise you on how to formulate a thesis is:  http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/thesis-statements/

Guidelines for formulating the thesis statement are as follows:

  • The thesis must focus on a single contention. You cannot list multiple reasons for the “truth” of your contention because the paper must follow a unified line of reasoning; a multifaceted thesis statement prevents this.
  • The thesis must be precisely phrased and coherent . Generalizations and a failure to define terms results in vagueness and lack of direction in argumentation.
  • The thesis must be a declarative statement. The object of your research was to answer a question; when you found the answer, you embodied it in your thesis statement. Hence a thesis can never be a question.

Here are some examples of thesis statements that strive to incorporate these recommendations...

POOR : Miguel Hidalgo’s uprising in 1810 led to a long war for independence in Mexico.    WHY: The above-stated thesis is a statement of fact that provides no clue about what you plan to do with that fact in your paper. Since there is no argument here, this is not a thesis. Improved : Miguel Hidalgo’s 1810 uprising mobilized poor and native Mexicans whose violence frightened elites and prolonged the war for independence. WHY: The above-stated thesis very specifically explains why the uprising resulted in a long war for independence. What’s more, it is debatable, since there may be other explanations for the war’s length. 

POOR : The creation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza created great tension between the Israelis and  Palestinians for numerous reasons. WHY : The above-stated thesis is poor because it is too general and it deals with the obvious – that there is tension between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. It needs to explain what the “numerous reasons” are; focus on one of them; and drop the reference to the obvious. Remember: a thesis statement makes a specific argument and here only a vague reference to multiple reasons for tension is provided. Improved : The creation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza was both an expression of Zionist expansionism and a means to isolate Palestinian population centers. WHY : The above-stated thesis is much better because it explains what the “numerous reasons” are and focuses on one of them. Now an argument has been created because a concrete explanation has been stated. Also,  this statement removes the obvious fact that tension exists between the two ethnic groups.

POOR : Louis XIV was a strong king who broke the power of the French nobility. WHY : The above-stated thesis contains a vague judgment about Louis XIV; that he was “strong.” In addition, it fails to specify exactly how he broke the nobles’ power. Improved : The Intendant System was the most effective method used by Louis XIV to break the power of the French nobility. WHY : The above-stated thesis eliminates the vague word “strong” and specifies the mechanism Louis XIV used to break the nobles’ power. Moreover, since this  was not the only policy Louis XIV used in his efforts to control the nobles, you have shown that your paper will defend a debatable position.

POOR : Gandhi was a man of peace who led the Indian resistance movement to British rule. WHY : The above-stated thesis does not clarify what about Gandhi made him a man of peace, nor does it specify anything he did to undermine British rule. Improved : Gandhi employed passive non-resistance during his Great Salt March and that enabled him to organize the Indian masses to resist British rule. WHY : The above-stated thesis specifies what has caused Gandhi to be remembered as a man of peace (his promotion of passive non-resistance to oppression) and it names one of the protests he organized against British rule. In addition, since it suggests that the technique of passive non-resistance is what made the Indian  populace rally behind him, it is debatable; there were other reasons why the poor in particular were ready to protest the British monopoly on salt.

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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Thesis Statements

Every paper must argue an idea and every paper must clearly state that idea in a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is different from a topic statement.  A topic statement merely states what the paper is about.  A thesis statement states the argument of that paper.

Be sure that you can easily identify your thesis and that the key points of your argument relate directly back to your thesis.

Topic statements:

This paper will discuss Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

The purpose of this paper is to delve into the mindset behind Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

This paper will explore how Harry Truman came to the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

Thesis statements:

Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima was motivated by racism.

The US confrontation with the Soviets was the key factor in Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

This paper will demonstrate that in his decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima, Truman was unduly influenced by hawks in his cabinet.

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Writing a History Paper

  • Reading Your Assignment
  • Picking a Topic

Developing a Thesis Statement

  • Subject Guide
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Usually papers have a thesis, an assertion about your topic. You will present evidence in your paper to convince the reader of your point of view. Some ways to help you develop your thesis are by:

  • stating the purpose of the paper
  • asking a question and then using the answer to form your thesis statement
  • summarizing the main idea of your paper
  • listing the ideas you plan to include, then see if they form a group or theme
  • using the ponts of controversy, ambiguity, or "issues" to develop a thesis statement

If you're having trouble with your thesis statement, ask your professor for help or visit the Student Academic  Success Center: Communication Support . Your thesis may become refined, revised, or changed as your research progresses. Perhaps these sites may be helpful:

  • Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences ( CMU Student Academic Success Center : Communication Support)
  • Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements  (Purdue OWL - Online Writing Lab)
  • Developing a Thesis Statement  (Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Thesis Statements  (The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill)
  • << Previous: Picking a Topic
  • Next: Planning Your Research >>
  • Last Updated: Oct 3, 2022 3:37 PM
  • URL: https://guides.library.cmu.edu/historypaper

HistoryProfessor.Org

Insights from zachary schrag, author of the princeton guide to historical research, a thesis statement template.

January 2007. Revised June 2011 and March 2022.

Thesis statements —the presentation of a thesis in the introduction of a work—can take many forms, so long as they pose a question and offer an interpretive answer. [1] Though I do not want to confine my students to formulas, here is one that may help them remember the key elements:

Why did [person/persons] [do/say/write something surprising]? [Plausible explanation], but in fact [better or more complete explanation].

Consider this passage example from Gail Radford:

Conventional wisdom suggests that Americans never would have abandoned their cherished dream of owning their own home, preferably a free-standing, single-family house in the suburbs. Yet some scholars have argued that this seemingly transhistorical commitment to homeownership in the United States was considerably strengthened if not actually created in its pres.. ent form during the interwar period. Also, evidence from the case studies of the PWA housing developments in this book suggests that many Americans might well have enjoyed living at least some part of their lives in good quality, economical garden apartment buildings or rowhouses surrounded by attractive landscaping and generously provided with recreational opportunities and social services within easy walking distance. In fact, Americans were never given such a choice, so it is impossible to tell how they would have reacted. Only some of the PWA developments that were built successfully embodied much of the spirit of the modern housing idea, and few Americans ever saw one of these. Encouraged by the housing industry, conservative forces in Congress made sure that there would be no federal support for this policy direction in the permanent legislation that ultimately emerged from the turmoil of the 1930s. As we will see, this vision for American housing had limitations and ambiguities. Yet, the problems it sought to solve have not disappeared, and many of the ideas it put forward could help us today as we try to craft solutions to our contemporary dilemmas. [2]

Rephrased it template form, it looks like this:

Why did Americans reject public housing except as an option of last resort? Given the popularity of homeownership today, one might think that Americans have always insisted on owning their own homes. But in fact, some Americans preferred quality public housing to home ownership, and only strong efforts by the housing industry and conservative politicians foreclosed this option.

Or, this, from David Mindell:

Hampton Roads drew such an energetic and lasting public response that the battle became a familiar icon of popular culture. The Monitor symbolized American technology, and success in military technology meant strength in commercial technology as well. A typical promotion proclaimed: “The fight settled the fate of the ‘Wooden Walls’ of the World and taught all nations that the War Ship of the future must be-like the McCormick Harvester-a Machine of Steel”. Official sources, expressed in congressional commendations, newspaper reports, and traditional histories, reflected a similar view. All touted the revolution in naval warfare, the new American standing on the international stage, and the maturity of industrial technology. Even today, the battle between the Monitor and the Virginia forms the most mythic and the most technological image of the Civil War. But, for Herman Melville, Hampton Roads conveyed another message. Both broader in its implications and more personal in its effects Melville’s reading of the ironclads illuminates a fundamental but elusive characteristic of technological change: the human experience that accompanies new machinery. His poem anticipates the rise of a cold, calculated, and distanced way of fighting, possibly reducing human grandeur in war. His poems on the Monitor, from his Battle Pieces collection on the Civil War, explore the paradoxical implications of mechanical warfare: like the Monitor, machines protect, but they also dehumanize. Melville wrote Battle Pieces during the war and published it soon after. Even without the advantage of hindsight he saw in the Monitor metaphors and conflicts hidden behind the public rhetoric of victorious new weapons. [3]

Here’s the template version:

What did Herman Melville mean when he wrote that “warriors/ Are now but operatives”? Official sources, newspaper accounts, and subsequent histories have presented the USS Monitor solely as a symbol of American technological success, but Melville understood machinery’s ability to dehumanize warfare.

Finally, here’s one from Adam Rome, in which the second part of the template appears nearly verbatim:

The Bulldozer in the Countryside does not merely fill gaps in the historical literature on environmentalism. The argument here recasts or revises a number of well-accepted conclusions about the movement’s roots, evolution, and limits. Six points stand out. Though a growing concern about the loss of wilderness ob­viously contributed to the rise of environmentalism, the movement also was a response to environmental change at the edges of the nation’s cities. [4]

To make it fit the template, we need only make Rome’s question more explicit:

Why did Americans become more concerned about the environment in the decades after World War II? Though a growing concern about the loss of wilderness obviously contributed to the rise of environmentalism, the movement also was a response to environmental change at the edges of the nation”s cities.

I even found an essay that uses the form almost exactly as it appears here:

How did Syria come to this pass? While some observers see in recent events a parallel with 1989, with the break-up of the East European–style system introduced by the Baathists in the 1960s, this is no velvet revolution, nor is Syria like Jaruzelski’s Poland. The regime’s violence is not ideological. It is far from being the result of an emotional or philosophical commitment to a party that long ago abandoned its agenda of promoting secular Arab republican values and aspirations. The regime’s ruthless attachment to power lies in a complex web of tribal loyalties and networks of patronage underpinned by a uniquely powerful religious bond. [5]

(For more examples, see  The Princeton Guide to Historical Research , 285-286)

Let’s take a look at the components of this form: 1. Why? History theses answer the question, why, or, occasionally, how. Who, what, where, and when are important too, but why and how make an argument. [6] 2. Person/persons. History is about people. Abstract nouns (capitalism, war, society, etc.) are important, but a thesis without people lacks life. 3. Something surprising. The function of any scholarship is to explore the unknown and the mysterious. Challenge yourself with difficult questions. 4. Plausible explanation. A good way to know that you have formed a good question is if it forces you to choose among interpretations. The question, who wrote “A Utilitarian View of the Monitor”s Fight”? has only one right answer (Herman Melville). The question, why did Melville write “A Utilitarian View of the Monitor”s Fight”? has many plausible answers. Like the second example, the most thorough theses note exactly who believes or believed an alternative explanation. 5. Better or more complete explanation. Not all answers are equally good. Some are plain wrong; they cannot be supported with evidence (Melville was trying to impress Adah Isaacs Menken ). Others account for some, but not all, of the available evidence (Americans were impressed by the power of the Monitor ). The task of a thesis is to show that your explanation explains words or deeds that were not explained before. Not all good thesis statements need to take this particular form, but most good theses present all of these elements. Show that your argument can explain more evidence than can a rival, and you have yourself a thesis.

For more on developing a thesis, see “ Elements of a Thesis Statement ” and “ Dialectical Thesis Statements .” [1] For all their classroom talk of concise thesis statements , academic historians generally spread the statement of their own theses over several paragraphs at the start of an article or several pages of the introduction of a book. Thus, if you want to find a compact thesis statement, you are better off reading historiographical essays or book reviews that summarize the arguments of other works. Here I have borrowed the idea of a thesis-statement template from the “magic thesis” presented by the UCLA Office of Instructional Development, http://write.oid.ucla.edu/handouts/Thesis_statement_history.rtf (August 8, 2006). [2] Adapted from Gail Radford, Modern Housing for America: Policy Struggles in the New Deal Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 6. [3] Adapted from David A. Mindell, “’The Clangor of That Blacksmith”s Fray”: Technology, War, and Experience Aboard the USS Monitor,” Technology and Culture 36 (April 1995), 242-245. [4] The second sentence is a direct quotation from Adam Rome, The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 7. It is one of six thesis statements Rome presents in his introduction (pages 7-12), each beginning with the word “though” and taking the form of a weighing of two alternative explanations. [5] Malise Ruthven, “ Storm Over Syria ,” New York Review of Books , 9 June 2011. [6] A remaining question—what is to be done?—is of great interest in other disciplines, but historians answer it only under duress. Others want to change the world; our task is to interpret it.

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Module 9: The New Deal (1932-1941)

Historical arguments and thesis statements, learning objectives.

  • Evaluate historical claims and thesis statements

The Research Writing Process

In an earlier historical hack, we talked about the research writing process, as shown below:

  • Understand the assignment
  • Select a research topic/develop a research question
  • Conduct research: find and evaluate sources
  • Create your claim (make an argument)
  • Synthesize evidence
  • Put it together

These are guidelines to help you get started, but the process is iterative, so you may cycle through these steps several times while working towards your finished product. In this hack, we want to focus on the final three steps—once you’ve done your research and have a few ideas about what to say, how do you put it together to create your finished product?

Crafting Historical Arguments

In open-ended historical research assignments, you are almost always expected to create an argument (revisit the assignment prompt or ask your instructor if you’re unsure about this). Historical arguments are not like the arguments that you and your roommate might have about the best show on T.V. or an argument you’d have with the referee at a sporting event; historical arguments require you to pick a stance on an issue and defend it with supporting evidence.

Your objective is not to create an informal persuasive essay convincing others of your viewpoint based on your personal opinions, but an argumentative one, where you defend your stance on an issue by backing it with historical evidence. Argumentative writing is done for a formal, academic purpose— you have a compelling viewpoint on a topic, and you’ve conducted research. Now you are communicating that research and using evidence to back your claim. When you write an argumentative piece, you write as if you are the authority on the topic, a subject-matter expert.

The Differences Between Persuasive and Argumentative Writing

Check out the table below for a quick breakdown of the differences between persuasive and argumentative writing.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell a topic from an argument. If someone sees you reading an article and asks, “What’s that article about?” You might say, “It’s about photography during the Great Depression.” That’s a topic, not an argument. How do we know? You can’t disagree with “photography during the Great Depression.” An argument is something you could disagree with, like “Photography during the Great Depression was essential in bringing the realities of poverty into the public eye.”

Argumentative Statements

Understand the assignment.

Don’t forget the first step in approaching a research paper or assignment—to carefully understand what you are asked to do. Some assignments are more obviously arguments than others. They may ask you to pick an obvious side, like “Was the New Deal effective or ineffective?” Or “How do you think the government should address reparations for slavery? Or “Was the American Revolution really a revolution?”

Understanding Argumentative Statements

Other times the “argument” part is less obvious. The prompt may be more generic or broad. Let’s take a look at this option for a capstone assignment in this class:

Pick a reformer or activist involved with a social movement between 1877 and 1900. Evaluate and analyze the ideas, agenda, strategies, and effectiveness of the work done by your chosen reformer or activist. You can pick one aspect of the person’s involvement or significance to the movement to focus on in your research. You should make a claim in your final report that answers one of the questions below:

  • What was the influence of your person on American life during their time period?
  • What is their influence and legacy today?
  • What changes came about as a direct result of their activism? 
  • What obstacles stood in the way of this person from having a more significant impact on society?
  • What activism methods used by your reformer were most effective, and why?
  • How did their activism compare or contrast with other reform movements from the same time period?
  • How are things different today because of their activism? In what ways are things the same?
  • Why should people be aware of the work done by your chosen reformer?
  • Can you draw any connections to a modern-day reform movement— what reform movement might they support today, and why?

With this prompt, you are tasked with creating an argument about the reformer or activist you chose. It is not simply a narrative or biography where you report about their lives, but you want to pick one of the listed questions to create an argument—something that shows your ability to take a stance (that could be debated by others) and support your view with evidence.

Activity #1

Give it a try—without even doing some research- what argumentative statement could you make about a 19th-century activist?

Let’s take a look at a more detailed example. For example, say that your chosen activist was  Bayard Rustin , a Black activist who was instrumental in organizing the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. What’s an argument you could make about Rustin?

Here is one option. “While you’ve heard of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” during the 1963 March on Washington, you may not have heard of Bayard Rustin, whose involvement in planning the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was essential in propelling Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the deputy director of the March, Rustin’s background in nonviolence and vision for the March led leaders to prioritize the civil rights movement and gave public backing to the federal law prohibiting racial discrimination.”

As you’ll learn in just a moment, this argument is what becomes the thesis statement.

Begin With a Thesis

The central claim you make in your argument is called the thesis statement . A thesis consists of a specific topic and an angle on the topic. All of the other ideas in the text support and develop the thesis.

Where in the Essay Should the Thesis Be Placed?

The thesis statement is often found in the introduction, sometimes after an initial “hook” or interesting story; sometimes, however, the thesis is not explicitly stated until the end of an essay, and sometimes it is not stated at all. In those instances, there is an implied thesis statement. You can generally extract the thesis statement by looking for a few key sentences and ideas.

Most readers expect to see the point of your argument (the thesis statement) within the first few paragraphs. This does not mean that it has to be placed there every time. Some writers place it at the very end, slowly building up to it throughout their work, to explain a point after the fact. For history essays, most professors will expect to see a clearly discernible thesis sentence in the introduction.

Characteristics of a Thesis Statement

Thesis statements vary based on the rhetorical strategy of the essay, but thesis statements typically share the following characteristics:

  • Presents the main idea
  • Most often is one sentence
  • It tells the reader what to expect
  • Is a summary of the essay topic
  • Usually worded to have an argumentative edge
  • Written in the third person

Crafting strong argumentative writing is a skill that teaches you how to engage in research, communicate the findings of that research, and express a point of view using supporting evidence.

Link to learning

For a few more examples of how to create arguments and thesis statements, visit this helpful writing guide .

What Makes a Good Claim?

Let’s take a closer look at this process by reviewing a worked example. For this example, we will use a topic you’ve studied recently—the FDR presidency and New Deal. Let’s imagine you’ve been assigned the following prompt:

  • Did New Deal spending and programs succeed in restoring American capitalism during the Great Depression, and should the government have spent more money to help the New Deal succeed, or did the New Deal spend unprecedented amounts of money on relief and recovery efforts but ultimately fail to stimulate a full economic recovery?

You’ve already examined the prompt, selected a research topic, and conducted research, and now you are ready to make your claim. First, what claim do you want to make?

Identify the Claim

Let’s look at a sample introductory paragraph that responds to this prompt. Look for the central claim made in the argument.

Example ESSAY #1

Since the stock market crash and the onset of the depression, British economists John Maynard Keynes, Roy Harrod, and others had urged western governments to stop tinkering with monetary solutions and adopt an aggressive program of government spending, especially in the areas of public works and housing, to stimulate the economy during the depression. Keynes stressed these ideas when he met with President Roosevelt, who soon complained to labor secretary Frances Perkins: “He [Keynes] left a whole rigamarole of figures. He must be a mathematician rather than a political economist.” Roosevelt’s comments about Keynes opened a window on one fundamental reason why the president’s New Deal, despite unprecedented federal spending, never achieved full economic recovery between 1933 and 1940. Although surrounded by critical advisers such as Federal Reserve chairman Marriner Eccles, who understood Keynes and his central message about the importance of government spending, Roosevelt did not grasp these ideas intellectually. He remained at heart a fiscal conservative, little different from Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt condoned government spending when necessary to “prime the pump” for recovery and combat hunger and poverty, but not as a deliberate economic recovery tool.

Let’s look at yet another example. This also responds to this same prompt which you can find again below for reference:

Example ESSAY #2

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his inaugural address on March 4, 1933, America was in the midst of financial collapse. Banking holidays closed banks in 28 states, and investors traded their dollars for gold to have tangible wealth. The president reassured Americans” “This great Nation will endure as it has endured and will revive and will prosper.” He listed three goals to shore up capitalism through his New Deal: banking regulation, laws to curb speculation, and the establishment of a sound currency basis. Roosevelt shored up the financial sector through regulation to restore the public trust that mismanaged banks, and financial speculators had destroyed. His New Deal gave the federal government regulatory responsibility to smooth economic downturns. Over the next eight years, the New Deal’s economic practices and spending helped create recovery and restore capitalism.

Finding the Thesis Statement

You’ve found the central claims from each of these two sample essays. Quite often, the claim is the thesis statement. But sometimes, the thesis statement elaborates on the claim more by including the angle you’ll take about your claim. In the sample essay above, the thesis statement is written in reverse order, with the primary claim coming at the end, but if you read the sentences before that, you can see what the essay’s focus will be as well.”

  • “Roosevelt shored up the financial sector through regulation to restore the public trust that mismanaged banks, and financial speculators had destroyed. His New Deal gave the federal government regulatory responsibility to smooth economic downturns. Over the next eight years, the New Deal’s economic practices and spending helped create recovery and restore capitalism”.”

Now we know that the rest of the essay will focus on how the New Deal’s economic practices and spending habits helped the recovery and also show 1) ways that Roosevelt shored up the financial sector and 2) gave the federal government regulatory responsibility.

Pick a reformer or activist involved with a social movement between 1877 and 1900. Pick two questions below and write a thesis statement explaining the main claim and angle you would take in an essay about the topic.

  • What changes came about as a direct result of their activism?

Thesis statement #1:

Thesis statement #2:

thesis statement : a statement of the topic of the piece of writing and the angle the writer has on that topic

  • Historical Hack: Crafting Historical Arguments. Authored by : Kaitlyn Connell for Lumen Learning. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Analyzing Documents Using the HAPPY Analysis. Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-ushistory2/chapter/analyzing-documents-using-the-happy-analysis/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Secondary source. Provided by : Wikipedia. Located at : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_source . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • What is an argument?. Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/englishcomp1coreq/chapter/introduction-to-what-is-an-argument/ . Project : English Composition I Corequisite. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Did the New Deal End the Great Depression?. Provided by : OpenStax. Located at : https://cnx.org/contents/[email protected]:WWZKMA1o@2/12-16-%F0%9F%92%AC-Did-the-New-Deal-End-the-Great-Depression . Project : Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/[email protected]

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Research guide

Sachiko Kusukawa

There are many ways of writing history and no fixed formula for a 'good' essay or dissertation. Before you start, you may find it helpful to have a look at some sample dissertations and essays from the past: ask at the Whipple Library.

Some people have a clear idea already of what they are going to write about; others find it more difficult to choose or focus on a topic. It may be obvious, but it is worth pointing out that you should choose a topic you find interesting and engaging. Ask a potential supervisor for a list of appropriate readings, chase up any further sources that look interesting or promising from the footnotes, or seek further help. Try to define your topic as specifically as possible as soon as possible. Sometimes, it helps to formulate a question (in the spirit of a Tripos question), which could then be developed, refined, or re-formulated. A good topic should allow you to engage closely with a primary source (text, image, object, etc.) and develop a historiographical point – e.g. adding to, or qualifying historians' current debates or received opinion on the topic. Specific controversies (either historically or historiographically) are often a great place to start looking. Many dissertations and essays turn out to be overambitious in scope, but underambition is a rare defect!

Both essays and dissertations have an introduction and a conclusion . Between the introduction and the conclusion there is an argument or narrative (or mixture of argument and narrative).

An introduction introduces your topic, giving reasons why it is interesting and anticipating (in order) the steps of your argument. Hence many find that it is a good idea to write the introduction last. A conclusion summarises your arguments and claims. This is also the place to draw out the implications of your claims; and remember that it is often appropriate to indicate in your conclusion further profitable lines of research, inquiry, speculation, etc.

An argument or narrative should be coherent and presented in order. Divide your text into paragraphs which make clear points. Paragraphs should be ordered so that they are easy to follow. Always give reasons for your assertions and assessments: simply stating that something or somebody is right or wrong does not constitute an argument. When you describe or narrate an event, spell out why it is important for your overall argument. Put in chapter or section headings whenever you make a major new step in your argument of narrative.

It is a very good idea to include relevant pictures and diagrams . These should be captioned, and their relevance should be fully explained. If images are taken from a source, this should be included in the captions or list of illustrations.

The extent to which it is appropriate to use direct quotations varies according to topic and approach. Always make it clear why each quotation is pertinent to your argument. If you quote from non-English sources say if the translation is your own; if it isn't give the source. At least in the case of primary sources include the original in a note if it is your own translation, or if the precise details of wording are important. Check your quotations for accuracy. If there is archaic spelling make sure it isn't eliminated by a spell-check. Don't use words without knowing what they mean.

An essay or a dissertation has three components: the main text , the notes , and the bibliography .

The main text is where you put in the substance of your argument, and is meant to be longer than the notes. For quotes from elsewhere, up to about thirty words, use quotation marks ("...", or '...'). If you quote anything longer, it is better to indent the whole quotation without quotation marks.

Notes may either be at the bottom of the page (footnotes) or at the end of the main text, but before the bibliography (endnotes). Use notes for references and other supplementary material which does not constitute the substance of your argument. Whenever you quote directly from other works, you must give the exact reference in your notes. A reference means the exact location in a book or article which you have read , so that others can find it also – it should include author, title of the book, place and date of publication, page number. (There are many different ways to refer to scholarly works: see below.) . If you cite a primary source from a secondary source and you yourself have not read or checked the primary source, you must acknowledge the secondary source from which the citation was taken. Whenever you paraphrase material from somebody else's work, you must acknowledge that fact. There is no excuse for plagiarism. It is important to note that generous and full acknowledgement of the work of others does not undermine your originality.

Your bibliography must contain all the books and articles you have referred to (do not include works that you did not use). It lists works alphabetically by the last name of the author. There are different conventions to set out a bibliography, but at the very least a bibliographic entry should include for a book the last name and initials/first name of the author, the title of the book in italics or underlined, and the place, (publisher optional) and date of publication; or, for an article, the last name and initials/first name of the author, the title in inverted commas, and the name of the journal in italics or underlined, followed by volume number, date of publication, and page numbers. Names of editors of volumes of collected articles and names of translators should also be included, whenever applicable.

  • M. MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • William Clark, 'Narratology and the History of Science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 26 (1995), 1–72.
  • M. F. Burnyeat, 'The Sceptic in His Place and Time', in R. Rorty, J. B. Schneewind and Q. Skinner (eds), Philosophy in History , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 225–54.

Alternatively, if you have many works to refer to, it may be easier to use an author-date system in notes, e.g.:

  • MacDonald [1981], p. 89; Clark [1995a], p. 65; Clark [1995b], pp. 19–99.

In this case your bibliography should also start with the author-date, e.g.:

  • MacDonald, Michael [1981], Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Clark, William [1995a], 'Narratology and the History of Science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 26, 1–72.

This system has the advantage of making your foot- or endnotes shorter, and many choose it to save words (the bibliography is not included in the word limit). It is the system commonly used in scientific publications. Many feel however that something is historically amiss when you find in a footnote something like 'Plato [1996b]' or 'Locke [1975]'. In some fields of research there are standard systems of reference: you will find that this is the case if, for example, you write an essay/dissertation on classical history or philosophy of science. In such cases it is a good idea to take a standard secondary source as your model (e.g. in the case of classics, see G.E.R. Lloyd's The Revolutions of Wisdom: Studies in the Claims and Practices of Ancient Greek Science , Berkeley 1987).

Whatever system you decide to follow for your footnotes, what matters most is that the end-product is consistent.

Keep accurate records of all the relevant bibliographic information as you do your reading for your essay/dissertation. (If you don't you may waste days trying to trace references when you are close to submission deadlines.)

Consistency of style throughout the essay/dissertation is encouraged. There are many professional guides to thesis writing which give you more information on the style and format of theses – for example the MLS handbook (British) and the Chicago Manual of Style (American), both in the Whipple, and a booklet, H. Teitelbaum, How to Write a Thesis: A Guide to the Research Paper , 3rd ed., 126 pp., New York: Macmillan (& Arco), 1994 (in the UL: 1996.8.2620). But don't try to follow everything they say!

Every now and then you should read through a printout of your whole essay/dissertation, to ensure that your argument flows throughout the piece: otherwise there is a danger that your arguments become compartmentalised to the size of the screen. When reading drafts, ask yourself if it would be comprehensible to an intelligent reader who was not an expert on the specific topic.

It is imperative that you save your work on disk regularly – never be caught out without a back-up.

Before you submit:

  • remember to run a spell-check (and remember that a spell check will not notice if you have written, for example, 'pheasant' instead of 'peasant', or, even trickier, 'for' instead of 'from', 'it' instead of 'is', etc.);
  • prepare a table of contents, with titles for each chapter of your essay/dissertation, page numbers and all;
  • prepare a cover page with the title, your name and college;
  • prepare a page with the required statement about length, originality etc.

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History Essay Examples

Cathy A.

Top History Essay Examples To Get Inspired By

Published on: May 4, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

history essay examples

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History essays are a crucial component of many academic programs, helping students to develop their critical thinking, research, and writing skills. 

However, writing a great history essay is not always easy, especially when you are struggling to find the right approach. This is where history essay examples come in handy. 

By reading and examining samples of successful history essays, you can gain inspiration, learn new ways to approach your topic. Moreover, you can develop a better understanding of what makes a great history essay.

In this blog, you will find a range of history essay examples that showcase the best practices in history essay writing. 

Read on to find useful examples.

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Sample History Essays

Explore our collection of excellent history paper examples about various topics. Download the pdf examples for free and read to get inspiration for your own essay.

History Essay Samples for Middle School

The Impact of Ancient Civilizations on Modern Society

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution

History Writing Samples for High School Students

The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Society

Grade 10 History Essay Example: World War 1 Causes and Effects

Grade 12 History Essay Example: The Impact of Technology on World War II

Ancient History Essay Examples

The Societal and Political Structures of the Maya Civilization

The Role of Phoenicians in the Development of Ancient Mediterranean World

The Contributions of the Indus Civilization

Medieval History Essay Examples

The Crusades Motivations and Consequences

The Beginning of Islamic Golden Age

The Black Death

Modern History Essay Examples

The Suez Crisis and the End of British Dominance

The Rise of China as an Economic Powerhouse

World History Essay Examples

The Role of the Silk Road in Shaping Global Trade and Culture

The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

The Legacy of Ancient Greek Philosophy and Thought

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American History Essay Examples

The Civil Rights Movement and its Impact on American Society

The American Civil War and its Aftermath

The Role of Women in American Society Throughout History

African History Essay Examples

The Impact of Colonialism on African Societies

The Rise and Fall of the Mali Empire

European History Essay Examples

The Protestant Reformation and the Rise of Protestantism in Europe

The French Revolution and its Impact on European Politics and Society

The Cold War and the Division of Europe

Argumentative History Essay Examples

Was the US Civil War Primarily About Slavery or States

The Effects of British Colonization on Colonies

Art History Essay Examples 

The Influence of Greek and Roman Art on Neoclassicism

The Depiction of Women in Art Throughout History

The Role of Art in the Propaganda of Fascist Regimes

How to Use History Essay Examples

History essay examples are a valuable tool for students looking for inspiration and guidance on how to approach their own essays. 

By analyzing successful essays, you can learn effective writing techniques that can be expected in a high-quality history essay. 

Here are some tips that will help you take full advantage of the samples above.

Tips for Effectively Using History Essay Examples

  • Analyze the Structure:

Pay close attention to how the essay is organized, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Look for how the author transitions between paragraphs and the use of evidence to support their argument.

  • Study the Thesis Statement:

The thesis statement is the backbone of any successful history essay. Analyze how the author crafted their thesis statement, and consider how you can apply this to your own writing.

  • Take Note of the Evidence: 

Effective history essays rely on using strong evidence to support their arguments. Take note of the sources and types of evidence used in the essay. Consider how you can apply similar evidence to support your own arguments.

  • Pay Attention to the Formatting and Other Academic Formalities:

The sample essays also demonstrate how you can incorporate academic formalities and standards while keeping the essay engaging. See how these essays fulfill academic standards and try to follow them in your own writing.

  • Practice Writing:

While analyzing history essay examples can be helpful, it is important to also practice writing your own essays. Use the examples as inspiration, but try to craft your own unique approach to your topic. 

History essays are an essential aspect of learning and understanding the past. By using history essay examples, students can gain inspiration on how to develop their history essays effectively. 

Furthermore, following the tips outlined in this blog, students can effectively analyze these essay samples and learn from them. 

However, writing a history essay can still be challenging. 

Looking for an online essay writing service that specializes in history essays? Look no further!

Our history essay writing service is your go-to source for well-researched and expertly crafted papers.

And for an extra edge in your academic journey, explore our AI essay writing tool . Make history with your grades by choosing our online essay writing service and harnessing the potential of our AI essay writing tool.

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For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

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history essay thesis examples

history essay thesis examples

Types of Writing Assignments

  • Narrative History
  • Response Papers
  • Creative Approaches
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Book Reviews

Historiographic Essays

  • Research Papers

Basic Considerations When Writing on History

  • Cause and Effect
  • Establishing a Broader Context
  • Common Fallacies

Types of Sources

  • Secondary Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Fiction/Art/Poetry
  • The Internet

Critical Reading

  • Historiography
  • Bias/Prejudice
  • Evaluating Contradictory Data and Claims

Preparation and Writing

  • Time Management
  • Note-Taking Tips
  • Developing a Thesis
  • Organization
  • Formulating a Conclusion

Basic Quoting Skills

  • Quotation/Annotation
  • Bibliographies
  • Advanced Quoting Skills
  • The Ethics of Quoting

Style and Editing

  • Drafts and Revisions
  • Common Stylistic Errors

What is historiography?

Parts of a historiographic essay, a sample historiographic essay, works cited.

In a nutshell, historiography is the history of history. Rather than subjecting actual events - say, the Rape of Nanking - to historical analysis, the subject of historiography is the history of the history of the event: the way it has been written, the sometimes conflicting objectives pursued by those writing on it over time, and the way in which such factors shape our understanding of the actual event at stake, and of the nature of history itself.

A historiographic essay thus asks you to explore several sometimes contradictory sources on one event. An annotated bibliography might come in handy as you attempt to locate such sources; you should also consult the footnotes and bibliographies of any text you read on a certain event, as they will lead you to other texts on the same event; if your research is web-based, follow links - always bearing in mind the pitfalls of the Internet - and if you are researching in the library, check out the books on nearby shelves: you'll be surprised by how often this yields sources you may otherwise never have found.

For an example of an essay on multiple perspectives on the same event (for our purposes, the Rape of Nanking, an event also examined in the context of Book Reviews ), click here .

The purpose of an historiographic essay is threefold: 1.) to allow you to view an historical event or issue from multiple perspectives by engaging multiple sources; 2.) to display your mastery over those sources and over the event or issue itself; and 3.) to develop your critical reading skills as you seek to answer why your sources disagree, and what their disagreement tells you about the event or issue and the very nature of history itself.

Specific skills honed by such an exercise include your ability to discern bias or prejudice and to evaluate contradictory data and claims . As you will have to quote from your sources in order to make your point, you will also have to display basic quoting skills . The very nature of an essay on multiple sources also requires a Works Cited page, of course, on which, see Bibliography .

You will begin a historiographic essay with a thesis that presents the issue or event at stake, then introduces your sources and articulates, in brief, their authors' perspectives and their main points of (dis)agreement. In the main body of your paper you will elaborate upon and develop this latter point, pulling out specific points of (dis)agreement, juxtaposing quotes (and/or paraphrasing arguments) and subjecting them to analysis as you go along. As you do so, ask (and answer) why you think the authors of your various sources disagree. Is their disagreement a product of personal or professional rivalry, ideological incompatibility, national affiliation? These questions go to the heart of historiography. In your conclusion , finally, you will briefly summarize your findings and, more importantly, assess the credibility of your various sources, and specify which one(s) you find to be most compelling, and why. In final conclusion you might articulate in brief the insights you have gained into the event or issue at stake, the sources you have used, and the nature of history itself.

Let us assume that the subject of your historiographic essay is the Rape of Nanking, an event discussed in some detail in the Book Reviews section. There, we examine the event as it is described and analyzed by Iris Chang in her bestselling book The Rape of Nanking . To this we now add several other sources, all of which are listed in the Works Cited section at the end of this page , and cited in the text immediately following, which exemplifies, in brief, some of the basic strategies of a historiographic essay.

  • THESIS: The so-called Rape of Nanking of 1937, a six-week massacre of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanking perpetrated by the invading Japanese army, was presented to a largely uninitiated American mass audience by Iris Chang in her best-selling book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997). Chang's vivid book spawned international interest and a number of responses from fellow historians worldwide. Western historians generally agreed with Chang's insistence that the event - long a mere footnote in the popular historiography of World War II - deserved larger notice, but some criticized her for displaying personal bias as well as historical inaccuracies and methodological weaknesses of various sorts. The response from a number of Japanese scholars was overwhelmingly negative. They denied her account of a post-war Japanese "cover up," yet at the same time also, to varying degrees, denied that the event had even occurred.
  • EXAMPLE (1): Tanaka Masaaki, for example, author of the website "What Really Happened at Nanking: The Refutation of a Common Myth," refers to Chang's work as one of "lies, hyperbole, propaganda." Chang's "mountains of dead bodies," according to Matsaaki, were mountains "that no one saw." Her "Reports of mass murders of prisoners of War [were] fabricated," he claims, offering as evidence that there was "no mention of the 'Nanking Massacre'" - a term he pointedly places in quotation marks - "in Chinese Communist Party Records"; and that "No protests against the 'Nanking Massacre' [was] submitted to the League of Nations [or] ... by the United States, Great Britian, or France." The event, he concludes - if there even was one - was "a massacre with no witnesses" (Masaaki).
ANALYSIS: Much of Masaaki's criticism smacks of precisely the kind of revisionism Chang critiques in her book, and is easily exposed as such. The fact that Chinese communist party records make no mention of the event, for example, is hardly surprising, as the Chinese communists were at this time in disarray, operating largely underground in the Nanking area. Not until 1949 did the communists begin their rule over China and begin keeping official records: why then should we expect there to exist records dating back to 1937? Nor should the silence of the League of Nations, the United States, Great Britain and France come as any surprise. In the same year that France and Britain stood by as Nazi Germany re-militarized the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles; and that the United States and the League of Nation stood by as Franco and Mussolini continued in their campaigns against the rightful governments of Spain and Ethiopia, why would we expect the United States or the League of Nations to have registered any protest over events halfway around the world?
  • EXAMPLE (2): Other arguments by Masaaki are more compelling. For example, he notes of one of the many disturbing photographs in Chang's book - a famous one, apparently showing a Chinese prisoner of war about to be beheaded by a Japanese officer brandishing a sword - that its "fakery is easy to detect if you look at the shadow cast by the man at the center [the officer] and that cast by [a lower-ranking] soldier to his right. [The shadows] are facing in different directions" (Masaaki). The photograph does indeed seem to be a composite, and while stopping short of supporting Masaaki's claim that "not a single one of [Chang's photographs] bears witness to a 'Nanking Massacre'," even American historian Robert Entenmann concedes that several of the photos in Chang's book are indeed "fakes, forgeries and composites," including one (also singled out by Masaaki) "of a row of severed heads," which, according to Entenmann, in fact depicts "bandits executed by Chinese police in 1930 rather than victims of the Nanking Massacre" (Masaaki, Entenmann).
COUNTER-ARGUMENT: Faked though some of Chang's twelve pages of photos might be - perhaps even all of them, as Masaaki suggests - the fact that there exist literally hundreds of photographs of the Nanking Massacre, many of them "souvenir photos" taken by Japanese soldiers themselves, strains the credibility of his larger point and even more so the point made by his stridently anti-Chang colleagues Takemoto Tadao and Ohara Yasuo. In their The Alleged 'Nanking Massacre': Japan's Rebuttal to China's Forged Claims , these writers state that "none of these photos are dated, and the names of places and photographers are not stated. In other words, there exist [no] photos that are rigidly authentic, and definitely, these photos can not be used as evidence of [the] 'Nanking Massacre'" (Tadao and Yasuo 101). In fact, several hundred photographs have been published in one volume - The Rape of Nanking: An Undeniable History in Photographs , by Shi Young and James Yin, many of them showing female rape victims with legs spread and genitalia exposed - graphic photographs it is hard to conceive of as staged. Such pictures, while not settling the matter beyond dispute, offer powerful testimony that speaks for itself.
  • EXAMPLE (3): Notwithstanding the many graphic photographs that exist, it is precisely the accusation of widespread rape - most likely because of its abhorrent nature - that Chang's Japanese critics wish to deny. "The number of 'cases of rape' [the Chinese] claim is from 20,000 to 80,000 cases," Tadao and Yasuo note. "Suppose we took this number, there should have been from 500 to 2,000 cases of rapes...daily [during the six week period of the Massacre]. This number is absolutely not trustworthy," they conclude, citing instead the number of only 361 official complaints of rape actually registered during this period (130). Of course, they are parsing numbers here. The fact is, whether there were three hundred rapes, thirty thousand, more, or less, rape perpetrated by an occupying force against a civilian population (and that such was the case is amply documented in Chang and virtually all extant sources on Nanking, including the Japanese sources, although they, of course, acknowledge only 361) is a crime of war. But that it is an individual crime of war, rather than a collective, government-sponsored crime against humanity (such as the Holocaust) is precisely the point for the Japanese historians: "[Holocaust] killings were indeed ... 'crimes against humanity', [but] those crimes are fundamentally different from the 'war crimes' which the Japanese troops are said to have committed. ... Those acts of crimes [were] the responsibility of each individual soldier" (136, 130). Following this line of reasoning, the Japanese government is absolved of any blame for the rapes that did occur in Nanking, the exact number of which remains unknown. (On this issue, see Evaluating Contradictory Data and Claims ).
  • EXAMPLE (4): More trenchant criticism of Chang than that offered by Japanese historians comes from the American academy. Robert Entenmann, for example, a China expert and senior faculty member in the History department at St. Olaf College, faults Chang on the very premise of her book. He denies that there is a conspiracy of silence surrounding Nanking in Japan; maintains (in contradiction to Chang's claims) that Japanese textbooks do address the event (it is rather quaintly referred to as an "incident" in Japanese historiography, if at all, rather than a massacre, far less a rape); states that those textbooks that do mention it offer fatality rates listed between 150,000 to 300,000 (the Western consensus is around 250,000; Chang claims 300,000); and that 80% of respondents to a 1994 opinion poll in Japan found "that their government had not adequately compensated victimized peoples in countries Japan had colonized or invaded" (Entenmann). On this last count, it is worth noting that the specific wording of the question does not appear to address Nanking explicitly, and that the opinion poll's finding thus bears little relevance to the question at hand. We might also be skeptical of Entenmann's generous appraisal of Japanese textbooks: on its role in World War II, Japan's high school textbooks in particular are subject to constant revision, much of it aimed at mitigating the government's role in wartime atrocities, as a 2007 New York Times article reminds us (Onishi 12).
  • EXAMPLE (5): Entenmann's more fundamental criticism of Chang's work and perspective, however, goes deeper. As the granddaughter of former Nanking residents who barely escaped the city, she is guilty, he writes, of having fallen victim to "her own ethnic prejudice. ... Her explanations are, to a large extent, based on unexamined [anti-Japanese] ethnic stereotypes." Furthermore, she engages in "implausible speculations," according to Entenmann, for example, her claim that Emperor Hirohito himself exulted in the news of the Rape of Nanking (see Chang 179). In fact, Entenmann points out, Hirohito's response is unknown, and Chang may be guilty here of "confus[ing] Japanese leaders' delight in the fall of the Chinese capital with exulting in the massacre that occurred afterward" (Entenmann).
ANALYSIS: Such sleights of hand (which Entenmann himself indulges in, as his opinion poll example above shows) are perhaps conscious on Chang's part, or perhaps a function of her not being a professional historian and therefore applying a less-than-rigorous methodology in her efforts to tell a good story. She is after all, a popular (rather than an academic) historian, whom another bestselling historian, Stephen Ambrose, whose scholarship has also been faulted on several counts, once called "the best young historian we've got because she understands that to communicate history, you've got to tell the story in an interesting way" (Ambrose qtd. in Sullivan B6).
  • CONCLUSION: It is this zeal to tell a good story and back it up with sensational evidence (even if - like some of her photographs - it is faked), as well as her occasionally emotional prose, sometimes bordering on hyperbole, that remains Chang's greatest liability. In an effort to place the Rape of Nanking into historical context, for example, she states that "[u]sing numbers killed alone" it "surpasses much of the worst barbarism of the ages." Its casualties exceeded those of the Carthaginians at the hands of the Romans, the victims of the Spanish Inquisition, and those of the Mongolian leader Timur Lenk, she writes in a series of specious comparisons that culminate with the observation that "the deaths at Nanking far exceeded the deaths from the American raids on Tokyo ... and even the combined death toll of the two atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki" (Chang 6). In The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography , an anthology generally sympathetic to Chang's project (if not to her methodology), George Washington University history and international affairs professor Daqing Yang, himself a native of Nanking, notes that "such a comparison [as Chang's] is methodologically sterile" and "morally misguided" (Yang 161). Indeed, it is precisely the sort of parsing of numbers for which Chang herself would most likely challenge the above-mentioned Japanese historians in their effort to deny the extent to which rape occurred at Nanking. Despite these failings, Chang's book ultimately emerges as a more persuasive argument of what did in fact happen at Nanking than those offered by her Japanese detractors. The enduring controversy surrounding the event, however, and the specific criticism against Chang from even those who support her premise, point both to the endlessly debatable nature of history, and to the need for a more rigorous, analytical approach in its telling. As Joshua Fogel notes in his introduction to The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography , "The Massacre and related events must be lifted beyond the popular level ... to be studied with greater nuance and with a wider range of sources" (Fogel 1). In such a project, the contradictory data and claims of Chang and her critics need not necessarily be mutually exclusive but, instead, might help establish a broader context within which the event can be understood more fully, from all sides.
  • Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (New York: BasicBooks, 1997).
  • Entenmann, Robert. "Review of Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II." October 29, 1998. H-Net List for Asian History and Culture , 1998. Accessed July 1, 2007. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/55/481.html .
  • Yang, Daqin. "The Challenges of the Nanjing Massacre: Refections on Historical Inquiry." The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography. Ed. Joshua Fogel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000, 133 - 180.
  • Masaaki, Tanaka. "What Really Happened in Nanking: The Refutation of a Common Myth." N.d. Accessed July 1, 2007. http://www.ne.jp/asahi/unko/tamezou/nankin/whatreally/index.html .
  • Onishi, Norimitsu. "Japan's Textbooks Reflect Revised History." The New York Times , April 1, 2007, A12.
  • Sullivan, Patricia. "'Rape of Nanking' Author Irish Chang Dies." November 12, 2004, B6. Washington Post , November 12, 2004, B6. Accessed July 1, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44139-2004Nov11.html .
  • Takemoto, Tadao and Ohara Yasuo. The Alleged 'Nanking Massacre': Japan's Rebuttal to China's Forged Claims. Tokyo: Meisei-sha, Inc., 2000.
  • Young, Shi and James Ying. The Rape of Nanking: An Undeniable History in Photographs, expanded 2nd edition. Chicago, Innovative Publishing Group, Inc., 1997.

The interested reader will find another brief exercise in historiographical inquiry - this one on the disputed relationship between the Catholic Church and fascism during the 1930s - in the Research Paper section of this site, under "Conducting Research for 'The Austrian Catholic Church and the Anschluss': Catholicism and fascism."

history essay thesis examples

How to write an introduction for a history essay

Gladiator equipment

Every essay needs to begin with an introductory paragraph. It needs to be the first paragraph the marker reads.

While your introduction paragraph might be the first of the paragraphs you write, this is not the only way to do it.

You can choose to write your introduction after you have written the rest of your essay.

This way, you will know what you have argued, and this might make writing the introduction easier.

Either approach is fine. If you do write your introduction first, ensure that you go back and refine it once you have completed your essay. 

What is an ‘introduction paragraph’?

An introductory paragraph is a single paragraph at the start of your essay that prepares your reader for the argument you are going to make in your body paragraphs .

It should provide all of the necessary historical information about your topic and clearly state your argument so that by the end of the paragraph, the marker knows how you are going to structure the rest of your essay.

In general, you should never use quotes from sources in your introduction.

Introduction paragraph structure

While your introduction paragraph does not have to be as long as your body paragraphs , it does have a specific purpose, which you must fulfil.

A well-written introduction paragraph has the following four-part structure (summarised by the acronym BHES).

B – Background sentences

H – Hypothesis

E – Elaboration sentences

S - Signpost sentence

Each of these elements are explained in further detail, with examples, below:

1. Background sentences

The first two or three sentences of your introduction should provide a general introduction to the historical topic which your essay is about. This is done so that when you state your hypothesis , your reader understands the specific point you are arguing about.

Background sentences explain the important historical period, dates, people, places, events and concepts that will be mentioned later in your essay. This information should be drawn from your background research . 

Example background sentences:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Castles were an important component of Medieval Britain from the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 until they were phased out in the 15 th and 16 th centuries. Initially introduced as wooden motte and bailey structures on geographical strongpoints, they were rapidly replaced by stone fortresses which incorporated sophisticated defensive designs to improve the defenders’ chances of surviving prolonged sieges.

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The First World War began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The subsequent declarations of war from most of Europe drew other countries into the conflict, including Australia. The Australian Imperial Force joined the war as part of Britain’s armed forces and were dispatched to locations in the Middle East and Western Europe.

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The 1967 Referendum sought to amend the Australian Constitution in order to change the legal standing of the indigenous people in Australia. The fact that 90% of Australians voted in favour of the proposed amendments has been attributed to a series of significant events and people who were dedicated to the referendum’s success.

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level)  

In the late second century BC, the Roman novus homo Gaius Marius became one of the most influential men in the Roman Republic. Marius gained this authority through his victory in the Jugurthine War, with his defeat of Jugurtha in 106 BC, and his triumph over the invading Germanic tribes in 101 BC, when he crushed the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and the Cimbri at the Battle of Vercellae (101 BC). Marius also gained great fame through his election to the consulship seven times.

2. Hypothesis

Once you have provided historical context for your essay in your background sentences, you need to state your hypothesis .

A hypothesis is a single sentence that clearly states the argument that your essay will be proving in your body paragraphs .

A good hypothesis contains both the argument and the reasons in support of your argument. 

Example hypotheses:

Medieval castles were designed with features that nullified the superior numbers of besieging armies but were ultimately made obsolete by the development of gunpowder artillery.

Australian soldiers’ opinion of the First World War changed from naïve enthusiasm to pessimistic realism as a result of the harsh realities of modern industrial warfare.

The success of the 1967 Referendum was a direct result of the efforts of First Nations leaders such as Charles Perkins, Faith Bandler and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Gaius Marius was the most one of the most significant personalities in the 1 st century BC due to his effect on the political, military and social structures of the Roman state.

3. Elaboration sentences

Once you have stated your argument in your hypothesis , you need to provide particular information about how you’re going to prove your argument.

Your elaboration sentences should be one or two sentences that provide specific details about how you’re going to cover the argument in your three body paragraphs.

You might also briefly summarise two or three of your main points.

Finally, explain any important key words, phrases or concepts that you’ve used in your hypothesis, you’ll need to do this in your elaboration sentences.

Example elaboration sentences:

By the height of the Middle Ages, feudal lords were investing significant sums of money by incorporating concentric walls and guard towers to maximise their defensive potential. These developments were so successful that many medieval armies avoided sieges in the late period.

Following Britain's official declaration of war on Germany, young Australian men voluntarily enlisted into the army, which was further encouraged by government propaganda about the moral justifications for the conflict. However, following the initial engagements on the Gallipoli peninsula, enthusiasm declined.

The political activity of key indigenous figures and the formation of activism organisations focused on indigenous resulted in a wider spread of messages to the general Australian public. The generation of powerful images and speeches has been frequently cited by modern historians as crucial to the referendum results.

While Marius is best known for his military reforms, it is the subsequent impacts of this reform on the way other Romans approached the attainment of magistracies and how public expectations of military leaders changed that had the longest impacts on the late republican period.

4. Signpost sentence

The final sentence of your introduction should prepare the reader for the topic of your first body paragraph. The main purpose of this sentence is to provide cohesion between your introductory paragraph and you first body paragraph .

Therefore, a signpost sentence indicates where you will begin proving the argument that you set out in your hypothesis and usually states the importance of the first point that you’re about to make. 

Example signpost sentences:

The early development of castles is best understood when examining their military purpose.

The naïve attitudes of those who volunteered in 1914 can be clearly seen in the personal letters and diaries that they themselves wrote.

The significance of these people is evident when examining the lack of political representation the indigenous people experience in the early half of the 20 th century.

The origin of Marius’ later achievements was his military reform in 107 BC, which occurred when he was first elected as consul.

Putting it all together

Once you have written all four parts of the BHES structure, you should have a completed introduction paragraph. In the examples above, we have shown each part separately. Below you will see the completed paragraphs so that you can appreciate what an introduction should look like.

Example introduction paragraphs: 

Castles were an important component of Medieval Britain from the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 until they were phased out in the 15th and 16th centuries. Initially introduced as wooden motte and bailey structures on geographical strongpoints, they were rapidly replaced by stone fortresses which incorporated sophisticated defensive designs to improve the defenders’ chances of surviving prolonged sieges. Medieval castles were designed with features that nullified the superior numbers of besieging armies, but were ultimately made obsolete by the development of gunpowder artillery. By the height of the Middle Ages, feudal lords were investing significant sums of money by incorporating concentric walls and guard towers to maximise their defensive potential. These developments were so successful that many medieval armies avoided sieges in the late period. The early development of castles is best understood when examining their military purpose.

The First World War began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The subsequent declarations of war from most of Europe drew other countries into the conflict, including Australia. The Australian Imperial Force joined the war as part of Britain’s armed forces and were dispatched to locations in the Middle East and Western Europe. Australian soldiers’ opinion of the First World War changed from naïve enthusiasm to pessimistic realism as a result of the harsh realities of modern industrial warfare. Following Britain's official declaration of war on Germany, young Australian men voluntarily enlisted into the army, which was further encouraged by government propaganda about the moral justifications for the conflict. However, following the initial engagements on the Gallipoli peninsula, enthusiasm declined. The naïve attitudes of those who volunteered in 1914 can be clearly seen in the personal letters and diaries that they themselves wrote.

The 1967 Referendum sought to amend the Australian Constitution in order to change the legal standing of the indigenous people in Australia. The fact that 90% of Australians voted in favour of the proposed amendments has been attributed to a series of significant events and people who were dedicated to the referendum’s success. The success of the 1967 Referendum was a direct result of the efforts of First Nations leaders such as Charles Perkins, Faith Bandler and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. The political activity of key indigenous figures and the formation of activism organisations focused on indigenous resulted in a wider spread of messages to the general Australian public. The generation of powerful images and speeches has been frequently cited by modern historians as crucial to the referendum results. The significance of these people is evident when examining the lack of political representation the indigenous people experience in the early half of the 20th century.

In the late second century BC, the Roman novus homo Gaius Marius became one of the most influential men in the Roman Republic. Marius gained this authority through his victory in the Jugurthine War, with his defeat of Jugurtha in 106 BC, and his triumph over the invading Germanic tribes in 101 BC, when he crushed the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and the Cimbri at the Battle of Vercellae (101 BC). Marius also gained great fame through his election to the consulship seven times. Gaius Marius was the most one of the most significant personalities in the 1st century BC due to his effect on the political, military and social structures of the Roman state. While Marius is best known for his military reforms, it is the subsequent impacts of this reform on the way other Romans approached the attainment of magistracies and how public expectations of military leaders changed that had the longest impacts on the late republican period. The origin of Marius’ later achievements was his military reform in 107 BC, which occurred when he was first elected as consul.

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History Thesis Topics: List of 69 Outstanding Ideas

history essay thesis examples

Unless you plan to go for a Ph.D. in history, a thesis will be the most significant academic writing of your life. It shows your in-depth knowledge of a subject, your ability to think logically, creatively, and originally. Besides, it’s a great way to demonstrate how good your writing is.

But finding an appropriate title for your thesis is a challenging task. You may feel unsure about any idea until you see the rest of them. So, what can help you?

A history thesis topics list, of course. In this article, you’ll consider a wide variety of ideas about historical events and figures. There are some tips on picking the right one for you. With a little explanation of the basics, you’ll differentiate the Bachelor’s thesis from the Master’s one in a second.

  • ☝️ How to Choose?
  • ⭐ Top-12 Thesis Ideas
  • 🚀 American History
  • ⚔️ European History
  • 🎨 Art History
  • 📚 MA Thesis Topics
  • 🦉 MPhil Thesis Ideas
  • 👨‍🏫 Thesis vs. Dissertation

☝ How to Choose a History Thesis Topic?

Before picking a topic about history, you have to understand what you’re looking for. Take into account that you’re going to spend plenty of time writing your thesis. So, you need to find an idea that engages you and is worthy of your time. Don’t go for a random history topic that you do not feel passionate about.

Searching for an idea, follow the tips below:

  • Find a topic that interests you . You’ll most probably write your thesis for a whole semester or even longer. That’s why you should determine something that doesn’t bore easily. At least those countless hours in the library will be spent with pleasure. The more the idea challenges and intrigues you, the less you’ll procrastinate and suffer from writing. No one can tell you what to write about. Your advisor can help you specify the topic, but it is up to you what to write about.
  • Look for a topic that creates a trajectory for further research . You may not pursue it later, but having an opportunity to do so is a significant advantage. If you decide to pursue a further degree, you will already be familiar with the topic well. Take a look at available works in a free essays database to get a clearer picture of what can be further explored.
  • Find a professor who will become your thesis advisor . Bring some thesis ideas up and see what your instructor suggests. It’s a good thing to have several research topics in mind—the instructor can help you determine the best one.
  • Think beyond the graduation date . Whether you are going to start a career or continue your studies, your thesis should help you in achieving your goals. What may your employer look for in your paper? What do you need to be successful in your job or further research? It’s good to approach the issue with some level of practicality. See if you can apply the skills and information you’ve acquired to your professional life.
  • Strive for originality but stay within your studies context . Try to make your title unique to grasp attention and intrigue from the get-go. At the same time, don’t fall outside the scope of your field. Before picking a topic, do some research to understand the field deeper. This way, you’ll see what exactly you would like to address.
  • Make sure your title fits the requirements . Open your university guidelines for the thesis work and find this out before anything else. Ask your thesis advisor as well to give you honest feedback.

You don't have to choose a thesis topic that reflects the latest craze in your field.

⭐ Top-12 History Thesis Ideas

  • Civil War — the role of women.
  • The Watergate Scandal.
  • Contemporary art history.
  • The Napoleonic Wars.
  • Causes of World War 2.
  • Impact of the Black Plague.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Japanese-American conflict.
  • The Vietnam anti-war protests.
  • Origins of the Great Famine in Ireland.
  • The French Revolution.
  • The rule of Elizabeth I.

📝 History Thesis Topics for Bachelor’s Degree

Usually, American Universities don’t require students to write a Senior Thesis. However, you still have an option to choose one. You can write a thesis as a part of your program completion. It will take a lot of time, energy, and effort. But, in the end, you will be able to produce a prime piece of academic writing.

Strive to write anywhere from 60 to 100 pages. You will also dedicate a lot of time writing and polishing it afterward. Make sure to leave enough time for that too.

What’s the first step?

Look for a thesis advisor you know you will enjoy working with. Consider all the professors you’ve interacted with at your university and pick several. Approach them and see if they are accepting new students for thesis supervision.

Make sure to choose a history thesis paper topic that your advisor knows a lot about. At some point, you will become very knowledgeable about the history thesis topic you chose. It will be crucial to have someone who can direct you.

There are several reasons why you should consider writing a thesis for a Bachelor’s Degree in history:

  • It provides you with essential experience in writing, researching, and brainstorming ideas. It can later help you in your academic or professional life.
  • You can deeply understand a subject that interests you.
  • You can improve your reading skills.
  • If you have to use foreign sources, you can also increase your foreign language skills.

Having a strong position on the history thesis topic is great.

Are you still wondering what historical thesis ideas are appropriate? Then, this list is perfect for you.

🚀 American History Thesis Topics

  • African American history in the United States : disfranchisement and segregation in 1890-1900
  • Early American History and the lost colony of Roanoke
  • The construction of race in American culture and history. It’s not a secret that race is a social construct. In American culture and history, it plays a critical role. In the thesis, you will have a chance to research the mechanisms through which the race was constructed. Movies, literary representations, articles, what else? It’s up to you to find out what can be relevant.
  • World War 2 through personal letters and diaries . This thesis can be personal and will not leave people indifferent. Examination of diaries, notes, and personal accounts can be fascinating. You won’t be bored doing historical research. Maybe you even have some in your own family? Worth checking it out.
  • Guilt over Slavery in the United States: a historical examination
  • Gender equality in American education . A comparative study of Germany, Russia, The United States
  • New York City and its historical geography. NYC is one of the captivating American cities. Writing a thesis about its historical geography is not an easy task. Gladly, you have tons of information available to you.

You can examine various documents for your history thesis topic.

  • Rocket Science as one of the most significant innovations of the 20th century
  • Examining the Role of Privilege within the Ivy League Universities
  • Role of American Public Health in a Post-9/11 World

⚔ European History Thesis Topics

  • Formation and development of the European Union during the 20th century
  • Feminist perspective on the representation of women in Roman Art
  • Religion and Nation in Europe in the 19th century
  • Construction of National Identity in Post-Soviet Latvia. What did contribute to developing a national identity of post-soviet Latvia? First of all, its independence and belonging to the European Union. In this thesis, talk about colonization and colonial identity. Consider the policies Latvian government implemented to build a Latvian character. What is it? What are the essential characteristics of it?
  • Composition and religious hierarchy in The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Representation of Jews in Late Medieval Period in Europe
  • Problems of political leadership in Athens of 404-355 BCE
  • The French Renaissance Court and its structural hierarchy. This topic is interesting yet complex. Its complexity comes not from the name but the nature of the French Renaissance Court. You need to have a clear idea of how the royal court is built and is operating. Find relevant historians of that time, and, hopefully, you can speak some French.
  • Immigrational Politics of the United Kingdom. The problem of multiculturism at the beginning of 1960-1980.
  • Orientalism or the Middle East through the prism of Western scholars in the XIX century. In this thesis, start by exploring the notion of Orientalism. Edward Said will be a good point of departure and one of the most fundamental works to cite and read. You can agree with his argument or disagree with it. Nevertheless, find the relevant evidence for your point of view.

🎨 Art History Thesis Topics

  • Medicine in Ancient Rome with a focus on surgeries through paintings. This thesis topic is rich. Numerous Ancient Roman paintings depict surgeries and medical treatments. Find the most interesting ones and talk about innovations in medicine. What was the point of recording medical procedures in art? Truly a topic that can captivate anyone.
  • Vincent Van Gogh: A phycological analysis of the artist’s last years . In this thesis, examine his artworks together with the personal letters. Look at the words he used, as well as the images he painted. You need it to comprehend what was happening in Vincent’s life in his last years. Some art therapists claim that the artist had bipolar disorder. Examine those views. However, be careful not to give any medical diagnosis yourself.

Analyze how Vincent Van Gogh's life and mental health issues affected his art.

  • Plato on Punishment and Vice: the notion of punishment in The Republic. You cannot get a degree without reading the most fundamental text of the Western Academy, The Republic . In this thesis, you should simply focus on the ideas of punishment and vice. Plato wrote a lot regarding the morals and the laws. Try to discern what exactly he meant. Extract his views regarding capital punishment and punitive justice.
  • Modern Art in Europe, with a specific focus on Italy
  • Trade in Medieval Europe with a focus on Africa through art
  • The erotism of art of Ancient Rome
  • Synthesis of sculpture and paintings in Spanish art of the 17th century
  • Neoclassicism in French art of the 1900s-1910s
  • Surrealism in Art as the quintessence between realism and hyper-realism

📋 History Thesis Topics for Master’s Degree

In the United States, to enter a graduate degree in history, a bachelor’s degree is required. Most of the time, students will have to submit several recommendation letters. Plus, they need GRE scores and writing samples. Add to this several essays explaining the purpose of going to university again, and there you have it.

Bachelor’s thesis can serve as your writing sample.

It is common to have several completion requirements. They can include basic courses, language tests, and a master’s thesis at the end of the program. However, it depends on the department and the university.

Keep in mind that there are several credits that students should obtain to get a degree. It differs from university to university as well. In most of the programs throughout the United States, they are required to complete 30-32 credits to get an M.A. degree. This number usually corresponds to 8-9 classes.

If you are pursuing an M.A., you’re in luck. There is an excellent chance that you will be able to choose if you would like to write a thesis or not. If you are pursuing an M.Phil., then you will have to write your thesis because it’s a research degree.

No matter if you are pursuing an M.A. or an M.Phil., this historical thesis ideas can help you find a title:

📚 MA Thesis Topics in History

  • Apotheosis of the Philippine Historical Political Tradition
  • Kerala History: Syrian Christians in the region in the 18th century
  • History of Modern India with a focus on women’s rights
  • The history of theater in the American South and the main characteristics of the Southern Drama. This thesis includes a lot of aspects starting from playwriting in Charleston to drama in New Orleans. Then there are War Drama, Black Drama, etc. Try to find a good balance to fit all of the main characteristics of the Southern Drama and theater.
  • New Deal and its impacts on events leading to the Great Depression
  • Mistakes of the Soviet side in WW2. WWII was the deadliest military conflict of the 20th century. In this thesis, talk about the biggest mistakes the Red Army made during the war. Some of those can include signing to the Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler. Plus, there were anti-tank dogs and the Molovot-Ribbentrop Pact.

The initial period of World War II for the USSR was a real catastrophe for the Red Army's tanks.

  • Military strategies that allowed Napoleon to win crucial battles
  • Mussolini & Hitler : connection along with its consequences for Italy
  • Queen Victoria’s politics and the way it has changed British history
  • The Development of Strategic Bombing Doctrine Between the World Wars
  • Historical Creation of a Black Elite in the United States
  • Through Imperial Eyes: Race and British Reactions to the American Slavery Question
  • Gertrude Bell’s Influence in the Formation of Iraq. Gertrude Bell is a crucial figure in Islamic studies. She contributed a lot to the formation of Iraq. In this thesis, explore her unique contribution and approach to building a modern state of the country. She was highly trusted by British politicians and by Arab leaders.
  • Baptist church history as a way to escape slavery

🦉 MPhil Thesis Topics in History

  • Investigating the impact of WWI on trade blocks. A case study of the European Union
  • Women in WWII: sexual objectification of women through magazines and advertisement. Women played an integral part in WWII. In this thesis, explore the role of sexual imagery in the advertising industry during the war.
  • Sudan-American relationships in 1989-2000: US Foreign Policy and Genocide in Sudan
  • Criticism of the war on drugs during the Ronald Reagan administration
  • The political evolution of the Southern States during the Reconstruction Era
  • Everest Expeditions in British Popular Culture, 1920-1960. Explore how Everest Expeditions were depicted in British movies. Analyze the subject via comics, journals, and visual art in the first part of the 20th century.
  • Impact of Otto von Bismarck on German Liberalism

Otto von Bismarck was a prime minister of Prussia and founder of the German Empire.

  • Discrimination of German immigrants in the USA during WW2
  • The Fourth International and the Spanish Civil War
  • Political and economic aspects of the crisis in Venetian Diplomacy in the 1500s
  • The connection between institutionalized racism and police violence in the United States. There are several dimensions to racism. In this thesis, look for a connection between structural racism and police violence in the US. Compare the numbers, look at the stories. See if this data exposes any hidden bias.
  • An image of the Medieval Period in Post Modern Art
  • A comparative analysis of the Four Quran English Translation. In this thesis, discuss why and how the Quran can be translated. Also, you should look at the four translations. Try to determine which one is the closest. To do that, you need to have an advanced level of Arabic.
  • The psychological effect of war on American soldiers in Vietnam

👨‍🏫 Differences between a Thesis and Dissertation

Understanding the difference between a thesis and a dissertation is essential. Would you like to obtain a master’s and a doctoral degree? Then read attentively. In the United States, both thesis and dissertation are vital for this purpose.

The prominent differences that you have to realize are the following:

  • A dissertation is required to graduate with a doctoral degree. A thesis is a culmination of a master’s program.
  • A dissertation is written to add a new piece of knowledge to the field. A thesis is to show that you have enough knowledge about the field.
  • A dissertation usually takes several semesters, sometimes even years, to complete. A thesis does not require this amount of time. It can be finished within months.
  • A dissertation can be seen as an academic book. A master’s thesis is a long research paper.

A dissertation has to be defended, while the master's thesis doesn't require defense in most universities.

Let’s see the main characteristics of a bachelor’s thesis, a master’s thesis, an MPhil’s thesis, and a dissertation:

  • A Bachelor’s Thesis (honors thesis). It’s a research-based paper that allows undergraduate students to put their knowledge into practice. The paper is usually 40-60 pages long. It includes an introduction, main body, conclusion, and bibliography.
  • A Master’s Thesis. It’s a piece of original scholarly work. A mater’s thesis is written under the close supervision of an academic advisor. It attempts to bring some fresh look or a new perspective to a field of study. The length of a master’s thesis can vary. Usually, it doesn’t go beyond 100 pages.
  • An MPhil’s Thesis (Master of Philosophy). It’s a specific type of thesis. As it was stated earlier, most American Universities don’t grant this degree. A few schools give it under specific circumstances. Doctoral students should accomplish all the course work and pass their exams. Then, this degree can be granted to them. A more colloquial way to call this degree is “all but dissertation.” In other cases, this degree is granted to students who are doing their postgraduate research.
  • A Dissertation. It’s a major piece of academic writing. It’s independent, shows critical and thinking ability. A dissertation is meant to illustrate academic knowledge, originality of work, and research skills. The length usually stays within 200-300 pages.

Each thesis and dissertation has its distinct structure.

Any thesis or dissertation is a monumental work. Choose a topic that you are passionate about. Make sure it’s researchable and clear, but at the same time memorable. Spend time writing, proofreading, editing, and talking to your advisor about your ideas and academic goals.

Remember that it is okay to get frustrated and tired at times. If it happens to you, stop working for a bit and relax. Good luck and congratulations on your soon to be graduation! We hope this article was helpful. Share it with those who may need a history thesis topic or a piece of advice.

🔗 References

  • MPhil in History: University of Oxford
  • How to Pick a Masters Thesis Topic: Peter Campbell for Medium
  • How Do I Choose A Thesis Topic: Grad School Hub
  • Writing a Senior Thesis: Undergraduate Program, Department of History, Brandeis University
  • The Bachelor’s Thesis, Bachelor EE: University of Twente
  • Guidelines for the Preparation of Your Master’s Thesis: the Office of Graduate Studies and Research: University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • Guidelines for Writing a Master’s Thesis for MA Degree: Jeremy Bailey, Susan Scarrow, University of Houston
  • What is a dissertation? How it is different from an essay: The Royal Literary Fund
  • What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation: The Best Master’s Degrees
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  1. The Thesis

  2. How to Write Thesis? Thesis Writing Tips #thesis #shorts #assignment

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  6. What is a thesis Statement

COMMENTS

  1. Thesis Statements

    Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper. It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant. Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue. Then, spend the rest of your paper-each body paragraph-fulfilling that promise.

  2. Historical Thesis Statements

    For history essays, most professors will expect to see a clearly discernible thesis sentence in the introduction. Note that many history papers also include a topic sentence, which clearly state what the paper is about ... For example, here is a possible thesis statement for this essay: The French & Indian War altered the political, economic ...

  3. How to Research and Write a Compelling History Thesis

    2. Develop a Thesis Statement. To create a thesis statement, a student should establish a specific idea or theory that makes the main point about a historical event. Scribbr, an editing website, recommends starting with a working thesis, asking the question the thesis intends to answer, and, then, writing the answer.

  4. Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument

    A Thesis Helps You and Your Reader. Your blueprint for writing: Helps you determine your focus and clarify your ideas. Provides a "hook" on which you can "hang" your topic sentences. Can (and should) be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. New evidence often requires you to change your thesis.

  5. Thesis Statement

    The thesis statement summarizes the central argument of your paper. It is placed at the top of the outline page, and appears again in the opening paragraph. A clearly stated thesis performs three functions: it provides a focus for your research, helping to prevent time wasting digressions. it furnishes an organizational theme for the paper ...

  6. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Placement of the thesis statement. Step 1: Start with a question. Step 2: Write your initial answer. Step 3: Develop your answer. Step 4: Refine your thesis statement. Types of thesis statements. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

  7. PDF HISTORY ESSAY GUIDE

    reading and taking notes, writing an outline, composing a draft, and revising your draft into a. polished essay. These stages often overlap. This guide addresses some of the most common questions related to researching, writing, and formatting a history research paper. It provides visual examples for the main stages of the.

  8. PDF argumentative Example One Example Two

    Of course, a thesis statement does not prove your argument. Your evidence and analysis, combined with your writing's eloquence, will help persuade readers. But a strong thesis statement will make for a more compelling essay and, as Toynbee advised, demonstrate that history is more than just "one damned thing after another." Debate that.

  9. Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement is different from a topic statement. A topic statement merely states what the paper is about. A thesis statement states the argument of that paper. Be sure that you can easily identify your thesis and that the key points of your argument relate directly back to your thesis. EXAMPLES. Topic statements:

  10. Developing a Thesis Statement

    Some ways to help you develop your thesis are by: stating the purpose of the paper. asking a question and then using the answer to form your thesis statement. summarizing the main idea of your paper. listing the ideas you plan to include, then see if they form a group or theme. using the ponts of controversy, ambiguity, or "issues" to develop a ...

  11. PDF Elements of an Effective History Exam Essay

    1. supporting evidence/examples V. Conclusion A. restate thesis; discuss how your essay has borne out your thesis (6) Pay heed to style / form as well as substance / content - Just because you've marshaled and explicated a wealth of historical evidence on behalf of a clear, analytically rigorous thesis doesn't guarantee success.

  12. A Thesis Statement Template

    A Thesis Statement Template. January 2007. Revised June 2011 and March 2022. Thesis statements —the presentation of a thesis in the introduction of a work—can take many forms, so long as they pose a question and offer an interpretive answer. [1] Though I do not want to confine my students to formulas, here is one that may help them remember ...

  13. PDF Writing Resources Center Writing a History Paper: The Basics (Example

    1. Identify the assignment's goals. Have the assignment's goals in mind as you familiarize yourself with your sources/evidence, develop a thesis, outline your main points, and write your essay. *Note: Always follow your professor's specific guidelines before the general suggestions in this handout. Example Essay Prompt: The assignment is ...

  14. PDF A Brief Guide to Writing the History Paper

    the History Paper The Challenges of Writing About (a.k.a., Making) History At first glance, writing about history can seem like an overwhelming task. History's subject matter is immense, encompassing all of human affairs in the recorded past — up until the moment, that is, that you started reading this guide.

  15. Historical Arguments and Thesis Statements

    For history essays, most professors will expect to see a clearly discernible thesis sentence in the introduction. Characteristics of a Thesis Statement. Thesis statements vary based on the rhetorical strategy of the essay, but thesis statements typically share the following characteristics: ... In the sample essay above, the thesis statement is ...

  16. PDF Senior Thesis Writers in History

    History 99: Senior Thesis Seminar Course Objectives The Senior Thesis Writers' Seminar has a twofold purpose . The first is to provide you with practi-cal guidance and writing advice as you complete a senior thesis in History . We will discuss many of the common hurdles and pitfalls that past students have encountered .

  17. How to organise a history essay or dissertation

    There are many professional guides to thesis writing which give you more information on the style and format of theses - for example the MLS handbook (British) and the Chicago Manual of Style (American), both in the Whipple, and a booklet, H. Teitelbaum, How to Write a Thesis: A Guide to the Research Paper, 3rd ed., 126 pp., New York ...

  18. PDF Analytical and Interpretive Essays for History Courses

    Evidence supports your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should be based on careful consideration of the evidence you have assembled. Select the strongest, most relevant facts and examples to explain your claim. Your evidence will include examples, information, and quotations that support your thesis. Depending on the

  19. 30+ History Essay Examples to Help You Get Started

    Browse through our collection of 30+ history essays examples on different topics with free downloads to get inspiration. ... The thesis statement is the backbone of any successful history essay. Analyze how the author crafted their thesis statement, and consider how you can apply this to your own writing. ...

  20. AP U.S. History Long Essay Example

    The AP U.S. History long essay question assesses your ability to apply knowledge of history in a complex, analytical manner. In other words, you are expected to treat history and historical questions as a historian would. This process is called historiography—the skills and strategies historians use to analyze and interpret historical ...

  21. Historiographic Essays

    Parts of a historiographic essay. You will begin a historiographic essay with a thesis that presents the issue or event at stake, then introduces your sources and articulates, in brief, their authors' perspectives and their main points of (dis)agreement. In the main body of your paper you will elaborate upon and develop this latter point, pulling out specific points of (dis)agreement ...

  22. How to write an introduction for a history essay

    1. Background sentences. The first two or three sentences of your introduction should provide a general introduction to the historical topic which your essay is about. This is done so that when you state your , your reader understands the specific point you are arguing about. Background sentences explain the important historical period, dates ...

  23. History Thesis Topics: List of 69 Outstanding Ideas

    This thesis includes a lot of aspects starting from playwriting in Charleston to drama in New Orleans. Then there are War Drama, Black Drama, etc. Try to find a good balance to fit all of the main characteristics of the Southern Drama and theater. New Deal and its impacts on events leading to the Great Depression.