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HIST 211: Home

This guide was developed to help students conduct research for their HIST 211 papers.

HIST 211 Research Paper

Welcome to the LibGuide for HIST 211. On this guide I will help direct you through the research process. First you will gather background information, then you will find secondary sources, and finally you will find primary sources to support your research. This guide will also provide resources for formatting a Chicago style bibliography and paper.

Before you get started, make sure that you have confirmed your topic with Dr. Ostrower. Choose the type of history (social, political, or economic), the state, and the year.

Preliminary Research

Before you dive into the library catalog, make sure that you know some basic information about your state and the United States during the time period that you are researching. To find out good trustworthy background information, you can begin with general reference materials.

  • Britannica Academic includes the Encyclopedia Britannica, World Data Analyst (statistics on the countries of the world), Gateway to the Classics (significant works in literature, philosophy, history, and science), Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and more.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library includes Encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary and subject specific research in areas such as art, business, education, history, etc.


  • Use the state entry in Britannica Academic to learn about the basic social, political, or economic history for your time period.
  • Remember that information during a time period leading up to or including your year may be helpful in providing context! In some cases, you may not be able to find specific details about your year, but you will be able to find information about a timespan that includes your year.
  • As you conduct your preliminary research, think of different search terms!

Political vs Social vs Economic History

Each type of history is written and researched differently. Below are some helpful clues for each type.


  • Political history is more divided by year than other histories, especially following the establishment of the United States. Each year had different political leaders, political parties, political actors, etc.
  • Questions that you might try to answer:
    • What were the main political parties?
    • What were the dissenting political parties?
    • What were the major political arguments?
    • What political voices were left out?
    • How were the political parties funded?
    • How were the state political issues tied to national issues?


  • Economic history is less divided by year and more follows patterns tied to technological and market developments. You will want to be aware of the major changes and innovations that effected the economy. Very important to economic history is the living and working conditions of the working class and their organization. 
  • Questions you might try to answer:
    • What were the major economic drivers?
    • What technologies were used heavily at the time?
    • What were the most profitable markets?
    • What was the economic division of classes at the time?
    • What was life like for the working class?
    • Was the working class organized?
    • What were the goals of the working class?
    • How did the ruling class exploit the working class?


  • Social history is not as divided along specific years. It changes slowly at times and rapidly at others depending on the political and economic conditions. Providing the context for the living conditions of the people will be important to understanding the social history in your year.
  • Some questions you might answer:
    • What were the class divisions at the time?
    • What were the working conditions for members of each class?
    • What were the living conditions for members of each class?
    • Who falls outside of the standard class divisions?
      • Indigenous people? Women? Black folks?
    • What was the difference between living and working conditions for everyone?
    • What were the political and economic factors that shaped the lived experiences of different people?
    • What social groups existed at the time?
    • What were the goals of the social groups?