History class can become a jumble of years, dates, and odd names of people who have been dead for centuries. Despite this, you’ll still need to write about history. You have no choice!
But once in a while your instructor may let you choose history essay topics. Are you clueless about where to start? If you are, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place! This article provides 21 top history essay topics.
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How to pick the best essay topic
Most of this article is devoted to listing history topics that are ideal for essays, but first, it’s important to have a simple process for using a list of possible essay topics like this.
- Before you start writing, brainstorm. Read this list. Scan lists of history essay prompts. Maybe even skim a history essay example or 2 (or 10, or 25). When you find a topic you like even a bit, write it down in your personal list. Add any other topics that come to your mind.
- Pick a topic that will satisfy your instructor and you can write well about. After you have along list, review the assignment instructions. Then, eliminate the most inappropriate topics from your list. Lastly, reread the remaining topics. At this point, decide the topics you know enough about to write aboutwisely.
This 2-step process will make sure you get started on the right foot, but don’t forget the basics of sound writing. Remember these two rules. First, always plan your essay by using an outline. Second, stick to a well-structured essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion (use a 5-paragraph essay ifit’s suitable).
Here’s one further tip that is notably helpful for history essays. Use Wikipedia to explore historical events that you don’t understand well. (But of course use primary sources if you are writing a true research paper.)
Here’s the list of history essay prompts that you’ve been waiting for.
The ultimate list of history essay topics
- An Industrial Revolution in England essay is an excellent Industrial Revolution essay. Use this essay toexplain some Industrial Revolution effects. Or perhaps give a brief but analytical overview of the Industrial Revolution timeline.
- Alternatively, you could write an Industrial Revolution in Europe essay. England was the first nation to industrialize. But it wasn’t the last. In this Industrial Revolution essay, perhaps discuss differences among European nations in industrialization. (This kind of comparative approach yields an especially fine Industrial Revolution research paper as well.)
- Or use a markedly different topic by writing a Martin Luther King essay. This key historical figure still shapes how we think about race, social justice, and the power of nonviolent protest. His death was tragic.
- One way to avoid making your essay a Martin Luther King biography is to focus on a specific event or impact of this man’s life. For example, your Martin Luther King essay could be about a specific Martin Luther King speech or quote. (But if you’re going to write about King’s famous “I Have a Dream”speech, make sure you have something unique to say!)
- Instead, you could write a broader Civil Rights Movement essay. In this, you must go beyond a basic Civil Rights Movement summary and focus on the meaning of this period over time or some specific change caused by it. (Again, don’t let your Civil Rights Movement essay become a Civil Rights Movement research paper.)
- You could write about another period of dramatic change in a French Revolution essay. This violent revolution filled with imprisonments, trials, and beheadings was caused by immense suffering by the poorest people in France. As such, when writing this essay, provide only a brief French Revolution summary, and focus on the impact and triggers of specific events.
- Similarly, you could write an American Revolution essay. Both events involved overthrowing a monarch, but unlike a French Revolution essay, an American Revolution essay is effectively about a war, the build up to war, and the recovery from a war.
- Perhaps your historical essay could focus on a person who was instrumental to the American Revolution. For example, consider Ben Franklin, a famous early American statesman, diplomat, scientist, and inventor.
- The War of 1812 was the conflict between America and Britain directly following the American Revolutionary War. It’s a fine essay topic for those seeking to understand early American history.
- Wars make notable topics for historical essay, but the aftermath can be even more interesting. The Weimar Republic was the terribly failed German government created after World War I. A critique of this government could be a superb essay subject.
- In contrast, post-war Vietnam has been a relative success story. The nation reunified following the defeat of South Vietnam. The modern Vietnamese people possess a higher quality of life than citizens of manynearby nations.
- You could also write about the Post-World War II 1950s. During this time, America exhibited surprising growth and prosperity. However, the United States began to wage a deadly Cold War with the USSR.
- Another quite related topic is the messy late 21st century American foreign policy. You could focus on the rise of terrorism after America’s invasion of Iraq, the worldwide US military bases, or any number of military dictators that the US has supported. These are all very provocative topics.
- Or you could focus on a more specific military event, such as the Battle of Hastings.Thisbattle shaped the whole history of England, as kings from continental Europe invaded English.
- The time of the Battle of Hastings was also characterized by the heavy influence of knights and feudal law in daily life. Knights were more than heavily armed warriors. They were also lords that controlled the land and subjugated peasants. This was a major cause of uprisings such as the French Revolution.
- Many medieval knights were also involved in the Crusades. This invasion of the Holy Land by European kingdoms represented a violent period. During these conquests, European nobility pillaged sacred sites and artifacts; with the goal of controlling the birthplace of their Christian faith.
- Following this time, Europe entered a period of Renaissance Humanism. Humans began to think about their humanity a bit more deeply. In doing so, many works of fine art, such as the first realistic paintings and sculptures, were produced.
- Your essay could focus on slightly later events, such as the fall of great empires. At various times in the past, nations such as Rome, China, Portugal, England, and the Holy Roman Empire controlled huge areas of our globe. Your essay could survey the implosion of these once great powers.
- The abolition of slavery is a fascinating and important historical essay topic. You may focus on this process within a single country, or you can write a comparative essay in which you compare and contrast the process of abolition across the globe or between two societies.
- Another highly relevant topic is the impact of Karl Marx. Few historical figures have had as huge an impact on society as Marx. Accordingly, you can consider how his writings were used (or abused) in a variety of nominally communist parties, movements, uprisings, and nations.
- Of course, you should always consider writing an integrative history essay. You can’t pick just one topic? Why not pick two or more! This is a nice approach for selecting compare and contrast essay topics. In this type of essay, you compare or contrast, people, events, or countries. In choosing this path, you make it possible to write a totally unique essay. The sky is the limit!
These are a tiny handful of the wide array of topics that you can write about for history class. When in doubt, always solicit opinions from your professor. (The worst case scenario is that they say no.)
Remember, the analysis of historical events is subjective. Two scholars may have vastly unique explanations for a series of historical events unfolding the way they did. Accordingly, try to write from the perspective that your instructors most likely hold.And if you’re unsure, ask them to review a first draft of your essay,or at least talk to them about your thesis statement!
There’s a point when rough draft essays are unhelpful. Maybe this list of history essay topics is useless becauseyour essay is due in 3 days.
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