HST 420 & HST 520 Fall, 2020
AMERICA FROM CENTENNIAL TO PEARL HARBOR, 1876 – 1941
The depth of the “Great Depression” brought misery such as Americans have not experienced since the 1930s. But it also triggered reforms that at least partially cured some of the problems that led to the devastation associated with the “Great Depression”, programs we usually refer to as the “New Deal”. Herbert Hoover, once the Bill Gates of his generation, left office a poster child for failure. His successor, Governor of New York Franklin Delano Roosevelt, offered a dramatically different persona and new programs. This paper gives you an opportunity to explore one aspect of the perceptions and realities of President Hoover’s administration and/or President Roosevelt’s first term by immersing yourself in magazines, newspapers, and books written from 1929 through 1936. By perusing these resources of the period, you will develop a sense of the major issues (do not limit yourself to politics) and the range of attitudes about them. Thus, you will become a historian of these dramatic transitional years by sifting through original documents and interpreting their meaning.
There are several ways to begin. One approach is to glance through your American history text from HST 212 or comparable survey course to revive your knowledge of those years and to help identify an interesting issue. Or you might leaf through the online New York Times (see below). Or “eyeball” magazines and newspapers in paper on the ground floor of Drake, or in another library, looking through the tables of contents and articles in some of the suggested journals. Or read chapters XII-XIV in Allen’s Only Yesterday which we will be discussing in November. Or, read Chapter 1 of Badger’s FDR:The First Hundred Days which we will discuss in the last week of the semester. Using one or more of those strategies, find an issue of significance that interests you.
When you identify an issue, read more thoroughly on it, being sure to find a variety of views. While online indexes will assist, two invaluable paper periodical resources are especially useful. First, The New York Times can be accessed online via the Drake Library Webpage, then Databases A – Z, then ‘N’, then “New York Times Historical Archive”. The Advanced Search enables you to specify periods and topics. Second, the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature is filed alphabetically among the journals on the Ground Floor. You will use Vols. 8 – 10. Please handle them carefully – they are fragile!
On-line guides to full-text services are wonderful, but some of your research will need to be in paper copies, because many periodicals from these years have yet to be digitalized. More importantly, merely ‘cherry-picking’ full-text articles by keyword robs you of a sense of your topic’s context that you get from surveying a full periodical.
Your research will enable you to write a history of an aspect of from the late 1920s through the mid-1930s based on a sampling of original sources. The articles should enable you to reach useful tentative conclusions, but you are not expected to exhaust the potential material or sample every possible journal. The paper must be based on at least fifteen articles from at least nine different journals. You may substitute chapters from books written before 1940 for up to five of the articles; each should be from a different book. Not more than three of your required articles (though you may use more!) should be from daily newspapers.
You may use secondary sources (popular and scholarly works written since the 1930s) for context, but they do not count toward the 15 required sources. Your paper must draw primarily on primary sources for its evidence. You are the historian sifting the evidence!
The proposal form (on Blackboard in the Research Paper folder) is designed to help you develop your ideas and prompt my assistance. Please send it to me by Tuesday, October 27 at email@example.com.
A progress report (directions are in the Blackboard “Research Paper” folder) is due by Friday, November 13 to .
The paper is due in Word by noon on Friday, December 2 to . Late papers will incur penalities.
The main body of your paper (at least 4000 words) should:
1) Briefly explain the background/context of your event/issue;
2) Describe the events and persona surrounding your issue (in other words, those
aspects that are generally agreed upon);
3) Discuss and analyze the range of attitudes and/or perceptions you encountered.
Which views were shared by most Americans and/or authors? Which were not?
Why do you think they held these various views and/or acted as they did?
4) Conclude by explaining the insights that your research offers into America of the time;
5) Include footnotes (or endnotes or parenthetical notes) for each source you’ve drawn upon.
In addition, your paper will include:
1) A title page, as specified below;
2) A 200-300 word (no more & no less!) abstract of your paper;
3) A bibliography citing every article you have drawn upon in correct citation format.
4) The completed checklist
Citations may be parenthetical notes (e.g., New York Times, July 21, 1934, pp. 44-45), endnotes, or footnotes. Be certain to cite all direct quotations and references to particular opinions. The bibliography must cite the article’s author, title, periodical name & volume, date, and pages. If you accessed the journals on-line, cite the WWW address as well as the original source. The litmus test of citations is that I must be able to locate any of your sources that I wish to read. All History students must use the Chicago Manual of Style citations. Students majoring or matriculated in another department may use its bibliographic style; please indicate the department and the style at the beginning of your bibliography. Parts of the Chicago Manual of Style and links to the entire manual are on Blackboard in the “Research Paper” folder.
As this is designated a “research intensive” course, the stylistic conventions must be carefully observed. In particular, underline or italicize journal titles and place “article titles” in quotation marks in the text, citations, and bibliography. Be certain to write several drafts and have them read by a friend, or better, your worst enemy. For your guidance, I have put links to a very useful writing manual used at the University of Wisconsin on Blackboard in the Research Paper folder. Its “Twelve Common Errors” is particularly useful – I have downloaded it to the Research Paper folder. I will be severe if those errors appear in your paper. This is the capstone paper in your major; the writing must be at a level that makes the History Department proud. And you should produce a paper of which you are proud! J
Your paper should be carefully written in order to communicate your ideas clearly to me. Remember that language is the instrument that conveys your message; poor writing prevents me from fully understanding your meaning. The paper is to be an online essay in Word of no less than 4,000 words (c. 12-16 pages), plus an abstract and bibliography. As a “research intensive” course, the length requirements for HST 420 are the same as for HST 520, but the graduate grading standard is more demanding.
Finally, your cover page should give your paper title, name, and the statement “This paper conforms to the Brockport Academic Honesty Code” followed by your electronic signature. Brockport’s Academic Dishonesty Policy may be seen online at: https://www.brockport.edu/support/policies/adopted/aa_vprovost_academicaffairs_academic_dishonesty.html. Remember that you are encouraged to discuss the general issues with your colleagues and friends, but the final work must be yours alone. In fairness to the vast majority of students who are academically honest, plagiarism will be punished severely.
Enjoy your trip into this memorable period that led to dramatic changes in American society that affect us today.
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