Write a 3-6 page paper that makes an argument about the historical significance of one of the
chapters from The Cruel Years assigned in the final two weeks of the course (Aug. 22-Aug. 31).
Your paper should have an introduction in which this significance claim serves as the papers
thesis statement. This thesis statement should explain as specifically as possible how the source
either 1) supports, 2) adds to, or 3) challenges one of the arguments in the secondary source
assigned on the same day as the primary source.
If writing about the primary source for Aug. 22 (Georgia Sharecroppers: Slaverys New
Clothes), the significance claim would explain how that text supports, adds to, to challenges
arguments in the secondary source (Nakano Glenn, Blacks and Whites in the South, Chap. 4 in
A good test of whether your thesis is sufficiently specific is if it answers a how or why question.
If, for instance, your thesis states that a primary source adds a personal or emotional
perspective to our understanding of a particular topic in U.S. history, but doesnt explain how or
why, then it is incomplete because it is not sufficiently specific. It still needs to say howwhat
specific stories, told in what specific waythis personal story helps us understand history.
To prove your thesis in your paper requires summarizing and analyzing a primary source. It also
requires summarizing at least one argument contained in a secondary source that is useful for
helping place the primary source in a broader historical context. Failure to do both of these
things will make the paper incomplete.
Your papers body paragraphs should therefore have three parts: 1) summarize the primary
source in its entirety, 2) summarize an argument in the secondary source, and then 3)
demonstrate how or why the primary source supports, adds to, or challenges the secondary
source argument that youve described. You may present each section in any order that you
Each section may be one long paragraph, though it may be helpful to use multiple paragraphs
organized around particular topics. Each body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence that
summarizes the subject of the paragraph. Each body paragraph must also present evidence in
the form of a quote or information drawn from assigned reading to support its claims.
Your summary and analysis of the primary source should include the following: the name of the
person (if it is provided), roughly what time period the story covers (if it can be discerned), what
places the story describes, what topics the story covers, and what argument(s) you believe the
author is making. As part of your description, you may want to consider one of these topics: the
role of work in the persons life; their experience of economic, racial, citizenship, and/ or
gender inequality; their views on what kind of country the U.S. is and their place within it; and
how theyve responding to adversity. These are potential subjectsyou are not required to
cover any of them.
Your summary of the secondary source should include the authors name, the books title, tand
a summary of a key argument in the chapter that is useful for analyzing the primary source.
Your demonstration that the primary source supports, adds to, or challenges an argument in
the secondary source should contrast the two texts.
Your paper should have a short conclusion. The conclusion presumes that you have already
proven your argument, so you dont have to restate it. Instead, it identifies the potential
significance (or implications) of your argument. Implications can include (but do not have to be
limited to): the value of studying primary sources to understand history, the value of studying
the particular topic you wrote about, questions about 19th century U.S. history deserving
greater study, or the potential relevance of 19th century U.S. history to understanding
something about the present.
Important Note Regarding the Topic from Aug. 24 (Chinese Americans)
It is important to note that the secondary source for Aug. 24 draws from the primary source
assigned for that day. Therefore if you write on this subject, your significance claim must
evaluate how the secondary source author used the primary source, and then explain how your
interpretation of the primary source (including passages the secondary source author did not
use) adds to, supports or challenges the authors analysis.
Resources for thinking about the structure of history papers and developing thesis statements
will be posted with this assignment to the final assignment page on Canvas.
You may share a rough draft of your introduction/ thesis statement with your teaching assistant
sometime during week 5 (Aug. 29-Sept. 2) for critical feedback and support in developing your
paper. You should not expect either the instructor or the TA to be available to provide feedback
on a draft introduction over Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 3-5).
Identifying and Citing Sources
When quoting a text, you must identify in your writing who or what you are quotingfor
example, the text itself, the name and title of a person quoted in the text, the name of an
historical figure referenced in the text, the title and date of a document that runs alongside the
main text, etc. If the meaning of the quote is not obvious, you should analyze and/ or explain
the quotes meaning and demonstrate how it supports your argument.
All sources for this assignment (including assigned readings) must be cited using footnotes or
endnotes formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style:
Failure to place verbatim text from other sources in quotes, failure to cite outside sources, or
having someone complete your assignment for you are forms of plagiarism and violations of the
student code. Students who are found to have plagiarized any of the answers will receive a zero
for the assignment, and no opportunity to redo the assignment.