HIS 200 SNHU Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States Research Topic

In your historical analysis essay, you will not only be asking a research question, but you will attempt to answer it and argue your position with the help of historical evidence.

Your thesis statement will provide an outline for your argument, and it will work as a guide for anyone reading your essay. Your thesis statement should be clear, specific, arguable, and defensible from the sources that you have available to use in your research. It will give direction to the rest of your essay. The more practice you have creating thesis statements, the better you will be at forming coherent arguments in your writing. This is a crucial component of communicating historical ideas.

You will practice writing sample thesis statements as well your thesis statement in this learning block. Although you will submit a working thesis to your instructor for feedback, you will have the opportunity to revise your thesis before submitting the final draft of your historical analysis essay in Theme: Thinking About History, Learning Block 8-4.

Learning Objectives

Objectives Icon

In this learning block, you will:

  • Explore the relationship between your research question and your thesis statement
  • Practice crafting thesis statements
  • Discuss your thesis statement with your classmates
  • Submit your working thesis statement and choice of sources to your instructor for approval

Developing a Thesis Statement

In your historical analysis essay, you will need to make an argument about the topic you are writing about; this argument needs to be supported by evidence from your research. An argument takes a stance; it is not simply a description or a summary of the information. Understanding how to construct an effective thesis statement will be an important skill for writing papers in your future classes. Furthermore, knowing how to support your claim with evidence is necessary in any argument.

In order to form a coherent argument, you will need a thesis statement. The thesis statement is the backbone of an essay, and therefore, writers often feel a lot of pressure to come up with a final, polished version of the statement right from the start. The problem with that method is that our perceptions and writing changes over time, so a thesis statement that was written at the start of the writing process may not end up aligning with ideas in the most recent draft.

Now that you have already begun the process of constructing your historical analysis essay, you are ready to construct the claim you are making. A thesis statement is a sentence in which you state your argument about a topic and then briefly describe how you will prove this argument. Your thesis statement can be more than one sentence long, but it should be succinct and specific. Your thesis statement should appear at the end of the introductory paragraph of your essay.

Forming an Argument

You have already formulated a research question, which means part of the work has been done towards forming your thesis statement. In order to write a good thesis statement, you should focus on one aspect of your topic. Your thesis statement should be specific, and you need to be able to support it with specific evidence.

There are a few strategies you can use to create your thesis statement.

  1. Turn your research question into an assertion and give evidence and reasons for this argument.
  2. Summarize the main idea of the essay you want to write, and turn that summary into an argument.
  3. Use a formula to develop an initial thesis statement. For example, you can use the following formats to create an initial thesis:

Although most scholars of ________ have argued ________, further research shows________.

(Your historical topic) was a result of________, ________, and ________, rather than________, as most historians have argued.

________demonstrates that (your historical topic) was a combination of ________ and ________, contrary to the argument of ________.

For example, let’s say your research question is:

In what specific ways did the Civil War affect the development of the Woman Suffrage Movement?

A thesis statement for this paper might start as something like:

By mobilizing women behind the national abolition movement, the Civil War introduced a generation of American women to political activism and helped pave the way for the success of the Woman Suffrage Movement.

However, this thesis statement could be stronger. Think back to what you read in Theme: Communicating Historical Ideas, Learning Block 1, Page 1, and any other reading or research you might have done on this topic. Refine your initial thesis statement to be more specific. For example:

The right to vote had been a key goal of women’s rights activists since the Seneca Falls Convention, but it was the Civil War—which mobilized women behind the national abolition movement—that introduced a generation of American women to political activism and made possible the success of the Woman Suffrage Movement. At the same time, ironically, post-war divisions over the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments temporarily split the movement, and delayed the achievement of its ultimate goal.

It is clear what the writer is arguing with this thesis, and the writer makes it clear how that argument will be supported.

A thesis statement gives you an outline to your argument, a way to focus your ideas, and a structure to your paper. Each topic sentence of the body paragraphs of your essay should relate back to your thesis. Your thesis statement reflects the purpose of your essay, defines the scope of your argument, and influences what content will be included. The thesis statement is also useful for readers, since it keeps them focused on your argument and guides them through your essay. On the next page, you will practice creating the thesis statement for your essay.

Exercise: Your Thesis

Project Icon

Review the parts of your writing plan you wrote in Theme: Approaches to History by opening firstname_lastname.Writing_Plan. By now you should have received feedback from your instructor, so incorporate that as well, as you begin to think about how your research question will evolve into your thesis statement.

Writing Plan Progress Check 3

Now it is time to start thinking about your thesis statement. Answer the question below, using the research you have done so far, information from Themes 1 and 2, and feedback from your instructor. This will be your preliminary thesis statement. It will probably require some reworking, but it is a good place to start.

Add your answer to firstname_lastname.Writing_Plan, under the heading Thesis Statement.

Based on the research you have done so far, what is the thesis of your essay that you plan to argue? What message are you hoping to convey with this thesis? This is a working thesis statement, and it may change by the time you complete your essay.

You are not obligated to follow the sample forms below, but they might be helpful starting points as you work on honing your thesis statement.

Although most scholars of ________ have argued ________, further research shows________.
(Your historical topic) was a result of________, ________, and ________, rather than________, as most historians have argued.
________demonstrates that (your historical topic) was a combination of ________ and ________, contrary to the argument of ________.

Writing Plan Progress Check 3

Your sources will be valuable for creating your thesis statement and providing evidence for your argument. Reopen the document firstname_lastname.Writing_Plan. Revisit your preliminary thesis statement and consider any changes you can make to narrow the scope and make it more specific.

You should also look over what you wrote about your primary and secondary sources and make any changes or tweaks you wish.

The two sections on Sources and Thesis Statement should follow your preliminary writing plan, which you submitted at the end of Theme: Approaches to History. These two sections should look something like the following document—part of the writing plan for an essay about the campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment:

Jane Doe
HIS 200: Applied History
Southern New Hampshire University
April 17, 2016

[The student’s preliminary writing plan precedes these two sections.]

One primary source is the transcript of First Lady Betty Ford’s August 10, 1975 interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer, on file at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library (https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0204/1511773.pdf).
Another primary source is Phyllis Schlafly’s critique of modern feminism, The Power of the Positive Woman (New York: Arlington House, 1977). This book is available in Shapiro Library.
One secondary source is “Competing conceptions of the first ladyship: Public responses to Betty Ford’s 60 Minutes interview” a detailed analysis of the reaction to the 60 Minutes interview by Maryanne Borrelli (2001; Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 31, No. 3 (September 2001); 397-414), which analyzes more than 1,400 letters that Mrs. Ford received after the interview, almost 67 percent of which expressed negative reactions.
Another secondary source is Republican Women: Feminism and Conservatism From Suffrage Through the Rise of the New Right, by Catherine Rymph (2006; Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press). This book is available in Shapiro Library.
Thesis Statement
Based on my research to date, I will try to support the following thesis: Even with the strong support of an extremely popular Republican First Lady, the ERA could overcome neither the divisions within the Republican Party, nor the conservative appeals of Phyllis Schlafly. This statement could change, based on subsequent research.

Expert paper writers are just a few clicks away

Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.

Calculate the price of your order

You will get a personal manager and a discount.
We'll send you the first draft for approval by at
Total price: