WHAT IS THE ASSIGNMENT?
This writing assignment (5-7 pages plus bibliography) is a four-part process:
1. Find a topic that interests you in California history before 1900. Formulate a
research question about your topic, focusing on cause, effect, or historical
significance. Ask Prof. Gendzel for help if you don’t know how to begin.
2. Search the CALIFORNIA AS I SAW IT database (click on the link in CANVAS) for
primary sources relevant to your topic. Choose four primary sources (minimum
1500 words each) that are relevant to your topic. All of your sources must
come directly from CALIFORNIA AS I SAW IT. Do not use any secondary
source or any source containing fewer than 1500 words.
3. Write a 5-7 page paper about your chosen topic. In your first paragraph, ask a
research question and then answer it with a clear thesis statement. Underline
your thesis statement, then prove it with evidence from your primary sources.
Quote from all of your sources and describe them in detail. Conclude by
explaining how your evidence proves your thesis.
4. Cite all of your sources fully in proper Chicago style. Include the original
publication information (author, title, publisher, date) and the URL for every
HOW WILL IT BE GRADED?
Papers be graded as follows: research question and thesis (20%); choice of sources
(20%); use of evidence to support thesis (50%); format and references (10%).
Download the Primary Source Research Paper Grading Rubric from CANVAS for more
information. Using an unauthorized source, a secondary source, or any source
with fewer than 1500 words, will result in a grade of “F” (0 points).
WHEN IS IT DUE? HOW DO YOU TURN IT IN?
The Primary Source Research Paper is due in class at 10:30 AM on Oct. 20, or at
10:30 AM on Dec. 1, if you turned in your Book Review on Oct. 20. Submit your
printed paper in class to Prof. Gendzel at that time, and submit the same paper
electronically to TURNITIN through CANVAS before that time (see p. 6 below for
instructions). Print out and attach the Primary Source Research Paper Grading Rubric
to the back of your printed paper when you turn it in. Any paper not submitted to
TURNITIN through CANVAS will receive a grade of “F” (0 points).
CAN YOU TURN IT IN LATE?
Late papers will be penalized 15 points for missing the due date/time by up to 24
hours. An additional 15 points will be deducted for missing the due date/time by
another 24 hours or any portion thereof (including weekends, holidays, breaks, “dead”
days, etc.) until the late paper is submitted to TURNITIN through CANVAS, which is
the ONLY way to submit late papers. No late papers will be accepted more than 48
hours past the due date/time. Any paper submitted more than 48 hours past
the due date/time will receive a grade of “F” (0 points).
HOW TO WRITE YOUR PRIMARY SOURCE RESEARCH PAPER
STEP 1: FIND A TOPIC AND FORMULATE A RESEARCH QUESTION
Think about a California history topic before 1900 that interests you. Think of a
research question that focuses on the cause, effect, or historical significance of your
topic. What was it? Why did it happen? What were the results? Why does it matter?
What more would you like to know about it? A proper research question cannot be
answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” nor with a name, a date, a statistic, or some
other simple fact. Ask Prof. Gendzel for help if you don’t know how to begin.
STEP 2: FIND PRIMARY SOURCES AT “CALIFORNIA AS I SAW IT” WEBSITE
Go to CALIFORNIA AS I SAW IT (memory.loc.gov/ammem/cbhtml/cbhome.html –
click on the link in CANVAS). Search for pre-1900 primary source documents that are
relevant to your topic. Click “Search by Keyword” and then use the “Search Full Text”
box. Choose FOUR primary sources with at least 1500 words each. Multiple chapters
or parts of the same source do NOT count as different sources. If you can’t find
four primary sources relevant to your topic, try another topic. Your sources
MUST have been written by historical participants or observers. Do NOT choose
secondary sources written by historians. Do NOT choose photographs, videos,
cartoons, poems, posters, songs, paintings, drawings, maps, or any source with fewer
than 1500 words. All of your sources must come from CALIFORNIA AS I SAW IT.
Using any unauthorized source, any secondary source, or any source with
fewer than 1500 words will result in a grade of “F” (0 points).
STEP 3: WRITE A PAPER WITH A THESIS, EVIDENCE, AND CONCLUSION
Your paper should be 5-7 pages long, not counting references (bibliography plus
footnotes or endnotes). Slightly longer papers are acceptable; shorter papers are not.
In your first paragraph, ask your research question and answer it with a clear thesis
statement that explains cause, effect, or significance—not just that something was
“important” or “changed” or “had an impact.” Underline your thesis statement,
stating what you intend to prove. In subsequent paragraphs, construct your
argument, using evidence from at least four primary sources to prove your thesis.
Quote from all of your sources; refer to them in sufficient detail to show that you read
them and that they are relevant to your topic. Introduce quotations by explaining
where they came from and what they prove. End with a conclusion that explains how
your evidence supports your thesis. What did you learn from your research? Why
does it matter? What is its historical significance? A conclusion is not just that
something was “important” or “influential” or “changed.” Historians have to EXPLAIN
what happened in the past with evidence from primary sources. Make sure you do so!
STEP 4: CITE YOUR SOURCES IN CHICAGO STYLE
Cite all of your sources properly in Chicago Style, sometimes called Turabian or CMS
(see pp. 3-4 below). For every source that you use, your references must provide all
of the original publication data (author, title, publisher, date) and the full web address
(URL). Ask Prof. Gendzel for help if you don’t understand any of these instructions.
Remember: Using any unauthorized source, any secondary source, or any
source with fewer than 1500 words, will result in a grade of “F” (0 points).
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