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on writing in history (for use in syllabi)

History is constructed through writing, and the materials used to construct history are themselves often written documents. Historical analysis and writing seeks to better understand the past. To do this, historians compile primary and secondary sources to analyze the features, characteristics, viewpoints, and significance of historical time periods, events, and actors. Historical writing involves not only constructing a narrative timeline, but also creating a convincing interpretation of the past. Historians are focused on explaining change over time, and writing is an important part of that work. Writing in history values arguing a position, posing critical questions, uncovering information that can answer these questions, and presenting findings and interpretations.

sample syllabi in history 

history 232 | Modern European History II
informal assignments and argumentative essay (Honolulu Community College)

history 1011W | Introduction to World History
drafted assignments and informal, in-class writing

history 1302 | United States History 1865 to Present
two comparison and evaluation papers

history 1308 | American History Since 1880
oral history assignment and historiographic essay

history 3102 | Early Modern Europe to 1750
logbook and formal research paper

history 3613 / medieval studies 3610 | History of the Crusades
textual analysis and informal writing within a compressed summer course schedule

history 3821 | United States in the Twentieth Century
five one-page analysis essays using primary and secondary sources

history 3845 | American Economic History Since 1865
essays to identify and evaluate major historical issues and concepts

sample assignments in history

history 1012 | Primary Document Interpretation
primary source identification and analysis

history 1031 | Textual Analysis Exercise
research paper involving primary documents

history 1302 | Formal Essays
longer papers stressing comparision and evaluation

history 1308 | Historiographic Essay and Oral History Paper
two interpretative assignments

history 3151| Guidelines for an Annotated Bibliography
summary assignments of at least ten sources on student-chosen topics

history 3102 | Research Paper
sequenced in-class and out-of-class activities building up to a long paper

history of science 3333 | Microtheme
informal assignment in letter form

history 3/5465 / east asian studies 3465 | Papers
analysis of newspaper articles

history 3/5465 / east asian studies 3464 | Sequenced Assignments
sequenced informal activities leading to formal papers

history 3613 / medieval studies 3610 | Informal Writing and Formal Textual Analysis
informal assignments and two textual analysis exercises

history of science | Weekly One-Pager
interpretation of primary documents (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

sample responding activities and handouts in history

history 1307| Paper-Writing Checklist
self-assessment guidelines for revising and proofreading

sample grading rubrics in history

history 1101 | Grading Guide
general descriptions of characteristics corresponding to letter grades

history 1301 | Essay Exam Evaluation
criteria outlining strengths and weaknesses

research strategies in history

Chicago Documentation Style (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

additional writing resources for instructors in history

Library Support for Instructors

additional writing resources for students in history

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students (Bowdoin College)