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History: 011 - Hitt

History 011: Social & Political History of the United States I - Course Description

"This course studies the social and political history of the United States from the Colonial era to 1876. Special emphasis is given to the constitutional development of the nation. This course meets the California State University requirements for United States history." --From the LAHC Catalog.


Type: Research Paper

Topic A topic of your choosing from U.S. History from pre-colonization to Reconstruction

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 father 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
  • Slavery - United States - History
  • United States - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Causes
  • History - United States - Colonial Period (1600-1775)
  • History - United States - Revolutionary Period (1776-1800)

By Keyword:

  • Colonialism
  • Colonization
  • American History
  • U.S. History
  • Democracy
  • Revolutionary War
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Politics
  • Government
  • African Americans
  • Women
  • Slavery
  • Enslavement
  • Exploration
  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Economics
  • War of 1812

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.