Choosing history research topics is one of the hardest and most time-consuming things to do, especially if there is no guidance. You have to employ the right research skills to find authentic sources and ensure that your history research questions are precise and clear.
So to make your work easier, we have curated history research paper topics for college students and high schoolers, as well as examples of history research questions you can use for your assignment.
What Makes a Strong History Research Topic?
Clarity makes a strong history research topic. History is a broad subject, so your topic should be well-defined and your language should be simple enough for the reader to understand the basic outline of your history research project. In other words, there should be no ambiguity. An ambiguous topic will be much harder to write than a clear one.
Tips for Choosing a History Research Topic
- Understand the requirements. Pay attention to your academic level and make sure that you are clear on what is expected of you. Keep referring to your assignment as you go along to ensure that you do not deviate from it.
- Choose a topic that interests you. If your history topic is boring, doing the research and writing the paper will become tedious work. It is important that you select a topic that appeals to you and that you will enjoy writing about. Even if you choose a controversial topic, it’s worth pursuing as long as it will motivate you to keep writing.
- Be objective. Movies such as Pearl Harbor have romanticized history as their subject, so make sure you select a topic based on facts and not merely your opinion. This will help in removing bias from your research questions as well.
- Begin your search for research sources early. Ensure that there are adequate primary and secondary sources for your research assignment. You can also consult other alternative sources for your research. Remember to also make use of your high school or college librarian. They will guide you toward reliable sources.
- Consult others when necessary. Whenever your assignment requirements are unclear to you, consult your professor. You can also brainstorm with fellow students to get more ideas on what topic you should select, or visit your university’s writing center to get a refresher on how to write strong topic sentences.
What’s the Difference Between a Research Topic and a Research Question?
A research topic refers to a broad idea that you may have chosen for your history research paper. For example, “modern history” is a general topic from which you can get various, more specific topics, such as “the role of globalization in industrialization.”
A research question takes a broad topic and narrows it down to a more specific subject. Your question will help in selecting the right sources. A research question answers the what, why, and how of the research topic. For example, what role has industrialization played in globalization?
How to Create Strong History Research Questions
A strong history research question should be empirically sound. This means that it should be narrow enough to do an in-depth analysis. However, it should not be so narrow that it can be answered with a simple yes or no. A simple search on Google should not answer your research question.
According to Kristin Poling from the Department of History at Harvard, formulating a research question requires preliminary research. You need to see whether there are authentic sources available to answer your question, and you need to understand where the gaps in the literature are. Strong questions lead to strong thesis statements.
Top 10 History Research Paper Topics
1. Religion in Ancient Greece
Any list of history topics about ancient Greek religion is bound to contain some gems. By digging into cultural patterns, you can explore how religion affected the social, political, religious, military, and economic development of Greece. You could even venture outside the boundaries of Greece and investigate how Christian symbols were influenced by the ancient Greeks.
2. Causes of the American Revolution
The American Revolution, also known as the United States War of Independence, is an important American historical event that occurred between 1775 and 1783. Researching the American revolutionaries behind the Boston Tea Party is a great way to understand how monumental social conflicts bring about the rise and fall of nations.
3. American Neutrality in World War Ⅰ
Also known as the First War or the Great War, World War Ⅰ was the first major global war of the 20th Century, and it lasted between 1914 and 1918. If you choose this topic, you will be able to analyze why America first made the foreign policy decision to avoid taking part in the war, as well as why it changed its mind later on.
4. Effects of the Allies’ Occupation of Germany
The Allied occupation of Germany began in 1945 after Germany was defeated in the Second World War. It refers to the joint occupation of Germany by the US, Great Britain, Soviet Union, and France. If you select this history research topic for your assignment, you will be able to delve deeper into the effects of the occupation on both Germany and the rest of the world.
5. Ronald Reagan and the End of the Cold War
The Cold War was a 20th Century battle of supremacy between the United States and the Soviet Union involving nuclear weapons. By discussing the role Ronald Reagan played in ending the Cold War, you could gain insight into the diplomatic history between these two powers or interpret how Reagan’s actions affected the course of American society.
6. Political, Economic, and Social Causes of the French Revolution
The French Revolution, which occurred between 1789 and 1799, significantly shifted the social and political ideals of all 18th Century European countries. This riveting European history research topic provides a means to explore the dangers of classism and its effects on civilian life.
7. The Legacy of Alexander the Great
You cannot learn about historical figures in ancient times without coming across Alexander the Great, the king of ancient Macedonia. Selecting this ancient history topic for your assignment will be a fascinating dive into how this key figure in history influenced Greek and Asian culture as he expanded his empire.
8. Rise of the Catholic Church as a Political Institution in the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a historical era between the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE and the beginning of the Renaissance period in the 14th century. Selecting this topic will help you understand the factors that influenced the rise of the Catholic Church as a powerful political institution in medieval Europe.
9. Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Working-Class Families
The Industrial Revolution was an era between the late 18th century and the middle of the 19th century when great strides were made in engineering, production, and manufacturing. It affected the economic and social lives of the working class and shifted gender roles. Studying industrialization effects would lend itself well to university students with access to rare books.
10. The Role of Martin Luther King Jr in the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement is one of the best Black history research paper topics for college students. One of the most impactful social movements, this movement was a response to the social injustice toward African Americans that continued after the abolition of slavery. Martin Luther King Jr was a key figure whose importance to American history cannot be overstated.
Other Examples of History Research Topics & Questions
History Research Topics
- American Folk Art History
- Religious Symbolism in the Renaissance Era
- Impact of the Westward Expansion on Native Americans
- Amelia Earhart’s Impact on Women in Aviation
- The Rise and Fall of the Dutch Republic
History Research Questions
- In what ways have Alois Riegl’s theories shaped modern art today?
- How did the Renaissance shift the worldview of European thinkers?
- How did the Berlin Conference influence British Colonialism in Africa?
- How have women in tech history shaped the role of American women in STEM in the 21st Century?
- In what ways did the 17th century’s political and military shifts in Spain affect British rule?
Choosing the Right History Research Topic
Whether you are a high school or a college student, there are many history topics from which you can select your research project. Selecting history topics for history is highly dependent on the type of paper you have chosen to write. Argumentative research paper topics will yield different results than a comparative study or a descriptive study.
Whether you choose to select a historical figure, the military clashes between the American settlers and Native Americans, or the role of women in industrialization, make sure that you narrow down your topic and choose something that answers a specific question about an interesting issue, period, or event.
History Research Topics FAQ
Historiography is the study of recorded historical events and their interpretations. In other words, historiographies help us understand how experienced writers have shaped what, how, and why a specific history subject was recorded and interpreted a certain way.
You start a research paper by beginning with a historical overview from which you can narrow down your topics and the history research questions that you want to address. From there, you will be able to carefully choose your primary and secondary sources. According to Purdue OWL, evaluating sources is an excellent place to begin a research assignment.
You can find many research sources from online university libraries as well as websites devoted to history. The Internet is full of curated libraries such as the American Historical Association, which has resources for historical researchers to help you join the ranks of the most expert writers in the field.
Yes, you can pursue an online degree in history. Many major universities offer online history degrees as an alternative to in-person degrees. You can look up the university of your choice and check the requirements for enrollment.
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