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History Essays

Good history essays can be written by following a few simple points.

You should always keep in mind the issue that you are examining. The easiest way to do this is to set out clearly your argument in the introduction and when writing you should keep looking back at the original question you are trying to answer, and to what you have said in your intro to make sure you're on the right track.

Good history papers should be analytical of the issue in question, and present a clear and coherent argument. To give your argument credence, you should include support from a number of sources. The sources for history assignments can be a mix of both primary and secondary, however you should be wary of the fact that all sources and authors can be open to scrutiny and critique.

Depending on the type of history essays or pieces you want to write, when analyzing an issue you should try and look at the different theories that have been presented - e.g. Did the Soviet Union set up satellite states in eastern Europe after WWII to protect the USSR or to build a Red Empire? All such big questions about history have been given several different answers. You should acknowledge the fact that there may be many views on the issue you are writing about, and if you can, then address each of these. You should not base your answer on an opinion that has been offered by someone else but use his or her views to support your own.

If you are writing an essay examining a historical document there are a few simple questions to help you breakdown and analyze any document.

Essays on historical subjects should be fact-filled. Who was the author and when was it written? What role has the author had in history?Who has written the piece and when, is very important to understanding the content and the relevance a document may have had on a particular period or event. For example a letter from Harry Truman written to the Secretary for Defense after 12.07.1941 carries more gravitas than a newspaper article on the U.S. entry into WWII.The original intended audience is likewise important. Was the document meant to be seen by the public? With regards the example above, a letter from the President to the Defense Secretary may contain highly confidential and important details.

What weaknesses does the document have and how what are the limits to its presentation of events?

And finally, what does hindsight tell us about the document?What actually happened? E.g. all the infamous "Dewey Defeats Truman" Chicago Tribune headline tells us is that the paper went to print before they actually counted the votes in California.

It is also very important to remember to proofread your history paper (or better yet get someone else to proofread) to make sure there aren't any errors or mistakes that may cost you marks when your work is being marked by a tutor. Correct grammar and punctuation are all valuable in making sure you achieve the best possible marks.

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