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History: 012 - Hitt

History 012: Social & Political History of the United States I - Course Description

This is the second semester course in United States History. It includes the political, cultural, and social development of the United States from 1876 to the present. This course meets California State University requirements for United States History.


Type: Research Paper

Topic A topic of your choosing from U.S. History from Reconstruction to the present.

Length7-10 Pages

Citation Format: Chicago Manual of Style (with footnotes) and a bibliography

Required Sources: 

  • Minimum of 3 primary sources (first-hand accounts)
  • Minimum of 4 secondary sources  
  • A combination of on-line, print (hardcopy), & DVD sources are allowed

Developing a Thesis

If you have a topic in mind, search the catalog for books and articles to help you narrow or broaden your search.  You can use the subject headings to search similar titles or to search as keywords.  You can find other keywords in a book or article summary, abstract, or description.  When you have enough research to focus on a specific topic, start to think about how your research supports a particular stance or view of the topic.  This stance can function as a working thesis that you can refine when you are further in the writing process.

Recommended Databases


Search Terms

By Subject:

  • United States - History
  • Democracy - United States - History
  • Liberty - History
  • United States - Politics and Government
  • African Americans - Biography
  • African Americans - History
  • Women - United States - History
  • History - United States

By Keyword:

  • American History
  • U.S. History
  • Democracy
  • Politics
  • Government
  • African Americans
  • Women
  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Economics
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • The Great Depression
  • The Dust Bowl
  • The Cold War
  • The Vietnam War
  • The Gulf War
  • Civil Rights
  • Women's Rights
  • Gay Rights
  • Segregation
  • "Jim Crow"
  • Immigration

Primary vs Secondary Sources

Primary sources are documents or physical objects which were written or created during the time under study.

Original Documents: diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records.
Creative Works: poetry, drama, novels, music, art.
Relics or Artifacts: pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings.

Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources; they are one or more steps removed from the event. 

Publications: textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias.
Images: pictures, quotes, or graphics of primary sources.