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Research Assignment #3

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To this point, you have identified a contemporary issue of interest and have begun to define the geographic and chronological parameters of a historical investigation into the issue’s origins (research assignment #1). You have located at least one historical primary source and offered an initial analysis of it (research assignment #2).

If, in the course of comments or a meeting with Dr. Unangst, you realized that your primary source needs either greater analysis, replacing, or supplementation with additional primary sources, do that as part of this research assignment #3.

But the primary task before you is to begin to offer historical context for the primary source that you do have and to begin to outline more fully the scope of your project. To do that, you will need to turn to what historians have written about your topic in order to fill in the gaps and offer a fuller, more contextualized picture than what your primary sources alone can offer.

Sources produced by historians are called secondary sources – not because they are less important than primary sources – but because they were written after the time period/event in question.

There are two main types of secondary sources: historical monographs (a fancy word for books) and scholarly journal articles, though historians write and produce their work in many other formats as well. Some of these other formats include newspaper opinion-editorials, documentary films, and online blogs like the one you are currently building. Consult the guides for searching for historical monographs and searching for scholarly journal articles for appropriate databases.

Step 1. Using the guides hyperlinked above, identify and acquire (via electronic access or physical copies) at least three secondary sources. At least one of the three should be a historical monograph. Sample research assignment #3 includes 3 monographs, 2 articles, and a brief newspaper article (endnote [6]) that came up in the search. Choose sources that will provide historical evidence – they should cover a span of time that was already in the past when they were written. You should not use book reviews (these are usually very short–1 to 2 pages, and will have the Chicago style citation at the top). Your sources should be historical – they should be written with a consciousness that what the author is writing about happened in the past. For example, a scholarly article about politics in the 1950s written in the 1950s would be a primary source rather than a secondary source.

Step 2. Using these newfound secondary sources, create a paragraph level outline for your project amidst the narrative text you have already produced. See sample research assignment #3 for the continuation of the example offered in sample research assignments #1 and #2. Note that search terms, date ranges, and research questions have changed from sample #2 to sample #3 to reflect new information and new directions for the project based on the search returns for secondary sources. The biggest changes are that the author of this sample project has narrowed their scope to a single research question and has redefined the date range to an earlier set of decades in the 20th century (1917-1954).


Step 3. Include endnotes for your secondary sources, thereby indicating which of your newly acquired secondary sources will inform each paragraph. Add those citations to the endnotes section, taking care to renumber any previous endnotes in light of these additions.

Standard endnote format for a full and abbreviated single-author book is as follows:

[1] Author Full Name, Full Title (Publisher City: Publisher, Year of Publication), page(s).

[2] Author Last Name, Main Title, page(s).

Standard endnote format for a full and abbreviated journal article is as follows:

[3] Author Full Name, “Article Title,” Journal Title Volume #, Issue # (Month, Year): page(s).

[4] Author Last Name, “Article Title,” page(s).

Consult the Chicago-Style Quick Guide for additional variations, including multi-author sources.

At this point, you may leave the page number portion of the endnote for monographs blank or leave a “pp.” as a placeholder. For articles, include the full page range (see sample endnote [5] or [9]). But know that once you write these paragraphs, you will need to replace these placeholders with the specific page or page ranges that you’ve relied upon for detailed paraphrases and direct quotations.

You will receive comments on the organizational structure of your outline, the historical usefulness and viability of each of your secondary sources. In particular, you will receive comments about whether or not your sources are likely to offer you historical evidence, but you should obviously attempt to make these determinations yourself before deciding to include them. If a secondary source is not helping you structure a historical narrative in the form of an outline, then find a different, more useful source. See Dr. Unangst for assistance in this regard.