This class requires that you write a research paper, but it’s not your usual topic. Inside every historian is a time traveler wanna-be. We’d all love to go visit the time and places we’ve studied, although we probably would NOT want to live there. (Indoor plumbing, A/C, the internet, antibiotics, etc. have their charms!) For your paper I want you to use your imagination. Pick a time and a place to go visit in the US between 1877 and 1920 for 24 hours and write a report on your visit!
THE PURPOSE: The point of this paper topic is to get you to think of the past as a real place, with real people, and real everyday life. It’s more than famous people and big events. Part of the difficulty in studying history is to see it as something more than just a story in a textbook, so for this paper you will be immersing yourself into a tiny portion of the past. Pick a normal day, place, and event. The purpose of this paper is to spend a day in the past looking at how life went on at that time and place.
RESTRICTIONS: There are some restrictions,
1. The place & time you visit must be within US territory.
2. It must be between 1877-1920.
3. You are you: your age, race, sex, etc. remain the same as they are right now. This may present issues of race, ethnicity and gender for some students.
4. No changing history. For example, you can’t go back and save President Garfield from being assassinated.
5. Avoid big, famous, history-changing events. No going to see the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Great Chicago fire, etc.
6. No heroics. No getting hurt. Stay out of wars and battles.
7. You have $50 to spend, no more, in the US dollars of the time you pick. So if you travel back to 1877 you have $50 in 1877 US money, if you go to 1900 you have $50 in 1900 US dollars. Whatever year you pick, $50 should be plenty.
8. You will have the appropriate clothing for your time and place.
9. Obey the laws. No robbing banks with Jessie James.
10. No, you can’t make more money by placing bets on sporting events, the stock market or anything else!
11. Yes, you may visit the “bad side of town” but you’d better have a good reason to do so! Being 19 years old with $50 burning a hole in your pocket is not a good reason.
12. Yes, of course you may pick fun things to do in the past! (Keeping in mind #11, above).
13. All of the details have to be REAL and you have to document them for me. This will require looking at old newspaper ads, city directories, magazines, etc.
14. You do not have to visit a big city. You may go out to the country if you prefer, or into the wilderness.
15. You are travelling alone. This may place restrictions on your activities.
Form: The final paper must be submitted electronically. You may also turn in an additional hard copy in class. Students are always welcome to review their draft with me before the due date! I would be happy to help you “make sure you’re on the right track,” etc.
Format: Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx)
Font: Times New Roman, 12 point.
Length: Between 6-10 pages of text. Number your pages (not the cover page). And yes, I deduct for spelling errors, etc.
Line Spacing: 1.5 (one and one half).
Margins: 1 inch top and bottom, 1.25 inches on each side.
Graphics: Yes, this is a great place for graphics. Show me what you saw and where you visited! They do not count towards the page total.
Sources & Bibliography: You should have at least six (6) scholarly sources. Do NOT use encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, as sources. They are fine places to start your research, but are not acceptable as sources on college papers. For the purpose of this paper newspapers of the time and city directories are primary sources.
Most sources used by real historians are still not on the internet. Hard to believe, I know. Moreover, much of what “history” is on the internet is garbage. For your paper you are required to use scholarly sources in print, specifically books and journal articles. You may not use more than one (1) source from a website. The only exceptions are listed below. Note, Wikipedia is not among the exceptions.
Exception 1: A primary source document such as an oral history interview or original document from a university, library or archive website. For example, the Library of Congress website includes some primary source documents.
Exception 2: Data from a government website, such as census information or text from a piece of legislation. This only includes primary sources. Other material, such as a description of a battle from a National Park website, is not acceptable.
Exception 3: Information from a book found in Google Books. However, the entire book must be available. If you can only see a snippet on Google Books you MUST find a hardcopy via the library instead.
Online Databases at the Library:
The rules above do not apply to scholarly databases available at the library, such as JSTOR. Indeed, I expect you to use these databases to find scholarly articles. Online databases are NOT the same as websites.
Number of Sources:
The rough rule of thumb is a minimum of one scholarly source per page of text. Just listing a source in your bibliography does not count. I expect to see it in the footnotes and some evidence of your using it in the text.
Footnotes: History and Politics majors must use Chicago style. Other majors may use whatever form their major uses. If you take facts from a particular source or quote a source you MUST note it. One footnote per paragraph is fine, even for multiple sources. Endnotes are also fine if they are in the right format. Non-History/Politics majors may use whatever sourcing form their major normally uses.
Title page: Attach a title page with your name and a title. This does NOT count as one of the required pages.