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 149 top history essay topics.

Before you read further:

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. Pick a topic that will satisfy your instructor and you can write well about. After you have a long 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 about wisely.

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 if it’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.)

Now:

Here’s the list of history essay prompts that you’ve been waiting for.

📜  The Ultimate List of History Essay Topics

  1. An Industrial Revolution in England essay is an excellent Industrial Revolution essay. Use this essay to explain some Industrial Revolution effects. Or perhaps give a brief but analytical overview of the Industrial Revolution timeline.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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!)
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.

    Fact for History essay: Last 3500 years the civilizated world has lived in peace for only 230 years.

  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 many nearby nations.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Or you could focus on a more specific military event, such as the Battle of Hastings.This battle shaped the whole history of England, as kings from continental Europe invaded English.

    History essay fact about Genghis Ghan

  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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!
  22. A more human-focused approach could be an interesting hook for the paper. A paper based on the writing of the soldiers in World War I could outline what war was like at the beginning of the 20th century.

    Old photos and letter

  23. A personal look at World War II could be just as interesting and with more available documents.
  24. One of the possible hooks for such papers may be the plight of the African American soldiers who fought in World War I and II.
  25. Another topic may be dedicated to soldiers from India who fought for the British in World War I.
  26. The economics of Europe after World War I may show the causes and effects that led to further conflict.
  27. You may dedicate your project may to the changes in fashion in the 20th century.
  28. More obscure topics like the Canadian history of film can make for an interesting thesis.
  29. American art of the 20th century is a big topic that has many interesting examples.
  30. History of math can show the timeline of math’s evolution.
  31. The conclusion of the British rule in India caused many positive and negative effects on the country which can make for an interesting project.
  32. The history of Roman sport provides fascinating examples of contests through the ages.
  33. History of architecture during renaissance can show the differences between the eras.
  34. Life before the invention of photography could be a topic that outlines how people preserved images back in the day.
  35. You can compare and contrast the history of Roman and British empires.
  36. Examples of music created for political causes could be an interesting hook for a music history essay.
  37. The history of medicine can provide some striking facts about the bizarre antique cures.
  38. “What are the events that led to the fall of Roman Empire?” is one of the more common history essay questions.
  39. Summary of the achievements of the American civil rights movement can provide an impression of what a dream of one man could do.
  40. An argumentative essay topic about the value of public communication can be chosen and created by using examples from the world history.
  41. A paper on the music of ancient civilizations can shine a light on prehistoric cultures.
  42. Your project can be about the anti-fascist activists in the US before WW II.
  43. It is possible for high school students to write about the events of the year when they were born.
  44. A thematic paper answering the question “what started the worst wars in world history?” could compare and contrast different wars to find similar causes and effects.
  45. The hippie culture of the 1960s can be presented as a response to the events of the era.
  46. Also, the fashion of hippies can be explored in your project with examples of real clothing.
  47. The New Wave movement in cinema was revolutionary for its time and can be an interesting essay topic.
  48. The same could be said about the New Wave genre of music that became popular in the 1980s.

    Audience on a concert

  49. Another music genre that captured the imagination of the public can be explored in an essay on the history of rock music.
  50. History of propaganda in films can help explore some pivotal moments in world history.
  51. Canadian history of sport is an interesting topic to explain why hockey is so popular in the Great White North.
  52. Economics of sport throughout history may also interest the reader due to the massive commercial expansion of sport in recent decades.
  53. Education during the renaissance was booming and could serve as a great topic for an essay.
  54. Education during the middle ages was rare and could contrast the previous topic.
  55. The justifications that the US used for the drop of the nuclear bombs during World War II is a controversial topic but an interesting one.
  56. American involvement in the Korean War is an often overlooked topic, but it deserves attention.
  57. To show how turbulent history of a single country may be, the causes and effects of the military coups in Nigeria could be fascinating.
  58. The war between Iran and Iraq could be seen as one of the most critical proxy wars of the modern history.
  59. The space race was an iconic element of the Cold War, and it is related to many history essay topics.
  60. Events that led to the rise of the Saudi Arabia can show how fast a country can develop when money is not an issue.
  61. The British music invasion into the US market has had a significant effect on American music and can be an interesting topic.
  62. History of American worker unions could serve as a topical essay in today’s political climate.
  63. The process of reparations for the Maori people in New Zealand in a rare success story of an ex-British colonial country making up for the discrimination its natives endured.
  64. Roman graffiti is a lighthearted topic that describes a less discussed aspect of Roman culture.
  65. The gender roles of Roman society can be compared and contrasted with the gender roles of the people of Gaul that often fought each other.
  66. The prominent figures of the American Revolution include a great variety of people who would later compose the most important documents of the US.
  67. A compare and contrast essay about the similarities of American and Bolshevik revolutions can show how the most prominent opponents of the Cold War had similar beginnings.
  68. The history of Japanese isolationism could be interesting to explore as a unique moment in world history.
  69. The Millerites believed that the world would end on a specific date, but it only led to the events known as “The Great Disappointment” which could make for a great history topic.
  70. The Carnation Revolution of 1974 was an almost bloodless coup and represents one of the few examples of peaceful transitions to democracy.
  71. The golden age of piracy is an interesting topic about an era that is often glamorized in fiction.
  72. The Copper Country Strike was one of the most tragic cases of death due to anti-strike action, and its events are still discussed today.
  73. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was a gruesome murder committed in broad daylight and emblematic of the gangster activity of the era.
  74. The Yalta Conference was one of the most important events of World War II with British, Soviet, and American leaders discussing post-war plans.
  75. British colonization of Africa was one of the most tragic; the causes and effects of it could be interesting to examine.

    Old plane fly above hills

  76. A paper on the evolution of flight could provide a timeline of marvelous engineering throughout history.
  77. Operation Paperclip was a secret plan to integrate scientists of Nazi Germany after the end of World War II which events lead to the beginning of the space race.
  78. Historical events that were predicted in fiction can be one of the more exciting history essay topics.
  79. African American music history can be explored to show how oppression influenced culture.
  80. Biography of Julius Caesar is filled with dramatic events and is one of the most exciting history essay topics.
  81. Aztec life before the arrival of the colonists was filled with horrible sacrifices and deserves examination.
  82. The causes and effects of Manifest Destiny are bizarre and tragic by modern standards but were considered righteous in their day.
  83. You could compare and contrast the life of the Roman leader Julius Caesar and Nicholas II of Russia because they were almost mirrored images of each other.
  84. The actions of Churchill led to some of the worst defeats for the British forces during World War I, but are overshadowed by his later leadership.
  85. The transition from the 50s to 60s fashion can be explored to show the drastic change in the culture of those years.
  86. The events that led to the emergence of teenage culture after World War II can be outlined.
  87. The economics of international trade during the Renaissance period can be described to show the complex relationships of Europe.
  88. American Revolution in film rarely receives accurate portrayals. A look at its depictions can be interesting.
  89. A paper on the causes and effects of Cold War paranoia could show how quickly people can be overwhelmed by fear.
  90. Ronald Reagan’s policy of a winnable nuclear war launched a chain of events that could end the world.
  91. The diversity of the Roman Empire is a rarely explored topic and could lead to an interesting paper.
  92. Medieval medicine is a fascinating topic. It combines the ideas from Ancient Greece and Rome, pagan medicine, and many religious superstitions.
  93. Another interesting history topic is the history of dystopian art. In turbulent times, it may be especially fascinating to trace the development of dystopian art and see what shaped the ideas of dystopian worlds in different eras. Moreover, you may find it interesting to see the predictions about the modern era in dystopian literature and cinema.
  94. Medicine in the early XX century is an excellent topic for an essay. At the turn of the century, there was a major change in the way people treated medical technology, hygiene, and chemistry. Groundbreaking achievements, such as the discovery of X-rays and penicillin, shaped modern medicine as we know it.
  95. The history of video games is an exciting essay topic. See how video games developed from the most primitive forms into the glorious, hyper-realistic works of art that we enjoy now.
  96. The history of quantum mechanics is a history topic that can teach us a lot about the world around us. You can write about the groundbreaking experiments that changed the way we think about nature, and learn about great minds who were not afraid to question even the most fundamental laws of physics.
  97. Alternatively, you can write about the development of astronomy. Another fascinating scientific field that can show us how people in different eras were discovering the beauty and complexity of the Universe.
  98. Similarly, you can write about the history of evolutionary theory. All ancient cultures had their ideas about the origin of life. See how Darwin’s idea of natural selection revolutionized not just science, but human thought in general.
  99. Another outstanding example of a revolution of human thought is the history of psychology. From the ancient idea of spirits and possession to the groundbreaking ideas of Freud and the discovery of conditioning – see how the cultural perception of the human psyche changed over time.
  100. A topic closely related to the current issues, pandemics that changed history can be explored to see the effects of epidemics on nature, science, and society as a whole. It may also be interesting to write about how viral infections spread around the world.
  101. The history of transport is a fascinating topic. Starting from the earliest of times, humans are continually developing new ways of traveling as far and safe as possible. See how technology evolved from the discovery of a wheel to rocket science, and how it changed history and the world around us.
  102. The history of the punk subculture is an excellent topic for presentation. Show how punk philosophy, fashion, and music changed the culture in the U.K. and around the world.
  103. Another interesting research topic for high school students is the Great Depression. Learn what caused the severe economic crisis, and what socio-economic effects it had on countries all around the world.
  104. From the first settlements built by ex-convicts to the outbreaks of smallpox and aboriginal resistance – the history of Australia is full of dramatic events and stories that we can learn a lot from.
  105. Or you can choose the exploration of Africa as the subject of your history essay. The story of two extraordinary individuals in search of a path into the heart of the continent inspired the novel Heart of Darkness.
  106. Historical figures in Shakespeare’s plays is a great history research paper topic. You could compare the lives of real historical figures, such as Julius Caesar and Henry V, to those of their fictional counterparts.
  107. Voyages of Christopher Columbus is one of the most critical events in history before 1500. While the discovery of the New World had an enormous influence on the colonization era, Columbus’s legacy remains controversial.
  108. Or you can write an essay on Hernán Cortés, a pivotal figure in the colonization of South America. His actions against native civilizations are highly controversial, and his life story is full of myths and mysteries.
  109. The Civil War was the defining event in the U.S. history before 1877. It had an enormous impact on American society and led to major changes in the Constitution.
  110. One of the world history topics that everyone needs to know about is the culture and society of ancient Greece. Incredible art, philosophy, politics, and scientific ideas of the ancient Greeks continue to inspire us today.
  111. Similarly, an essay on the Greek Dark Ages can shine a light on the fall of the great civilization. It is also the period during which Homer’s famous poems Odyssey and Iliad were composed.
  112. Chivalry in the Middle Ages is an interesting history topic, and it is often romanticized. Learn about the chivalric code, tournaments, and epic legends about famous Medieval knights.
  113. Also, it may be interesting to write a world history essay on King Arthur. Explore the real events that inspired stories about the legendary British leader and the Knights of the Round Table.
  114. The history of Easter Island is a very intriguing history topic. You can talk about the mysteries surrounding the culture, language, and the eventual demise of the inhabitants of one of the world’s most isolated islands.
  115. The history of nuclear weapons is an excellent controversial topic for an essay and a discussion. The stories of research, development, and the use of atomic bombs can be used as cautionary tales for people today.
  116. From cave paintings and letters to telephone and the Internet – the history of communication is one of the best topics for a research paper. See how the means of communication evolved throughout human history.
  117. Also, the history of the Internet can be explored in your research paper. What was initially created for research and military use became one of the defining elements of modern life.
  118. The history of animation is an interesting topic for high school students. Learn about the evolution of animation – from the ancient Egyptian murals depicting motion to the first CGI cartoons and everything in-between.
  119. The history of museums has many exciting twists and turns. Discover how people of different eras were preserving art and other extraordinary objects. Also, it may be interesting to learn about the most significant art thefts in history.
  120. The history of cosmetics is an excellent topic for a research paper with a presentation. See how makeup was used in different eras, what it was made of, and how historical figures influenced makeup trends of the past epochs.
  121. Amelia Earhart is a wonderful role model whose life you can research in your history essay. She was an aviator pioneer and a best-selling author. Her disappearance in 1937 remains a mystery.
  122. History of Eurovision song contest is a lighthearted topic with serious political undertones. It was originally intended to unite all countries of post-war Europe in one song contest, broadcast live on television.
  123. The history of theater is a fascinating subject for a research paper. Theater first appeared in Ancient Greece, went through significant changes during the Renaissance, and it remains a popular art form that covers many genres.
  124. The history of the death penalty is an interesting topic for an essay that you can have a discussion about. The death penalty has a fascinating and gruesome history and remains a controversial subject even today.
  125. You can write an outstanding research paper on the history of whaling. People have been hunting whales since prehistoric times for various reasons, including perfume and candle manufacturing.
  126. Another exciting world history topic is Gold Rush. While the California Gold Rush is by far the most famous, there were many other cases throughout history, dating as far back as ancient Egypt.
  127. One of the more mysterious history topics that you can write about is Stonehenge. This majestic stone structure has been for a long time associated with druids. The latest discoveries suggest that it was used as an observatory.
  128. Maybe an even more mysterious history research paper topic is the Pyramids of Egypt. The only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World, they are some of the largest structures ever built, and their history remains intriguing.
  129. Or you can choose to write about all the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! They are remarkable buildings and constructions, all but one of which are entirely destroyed, and some are speculated to have never existed.
  130. Similarly, you can write a paper on other beautiful buildings, such as the picturesque Machu Picchu. An iconic citadel of the Inca civilization, it is now considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
  131. A paper on Joan of Arc can show how one extraordinary individual is capable of changing the course of history. Her life is surrounded by many legends, and she remains a popular subject in art.
  132. Similarly, you can write about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and what impact it had on the entire American nation. Delivered during the Civil War, it is considered to be the greatest speech ever.
  133. A history research paper on feminism could provide a timeline of the fight for equality. Closely connected to the current issues, this topic covers everything from the women’s suffrage movement to the modern Women’s Marches.
  134. One of the most exciting history topics that everyone needs to know about is the Minoan Civilization – the first highly advanced society in Europe. You can talk about its discovery in the late XIX, the incredible art of Knossos, and its numerous legends, including the famous Labyrinth.
  135. You can choose to write an essay on history of Indigenous Australians. The timeline of first humans populating Australia is full of mysteries, and their culture remains fascinating.
  136. An interesting essay can be written on the earliest universities. They were founded long before 1500 in Asia and Africa for educating government officials, and are a fascinating subject to explore.
  137. You can write an exciting research paper on Alexandria – a city in Egypt founded by Alexander the Great. In ancient times, it was a city like no other, and had an enormous influence on the Mediterranean culture.
  138. Middle Ages are full of interesting history topics – for example, you can choose to write about medieval magic. From alchemy and astrology to inquisition and witch trials, it’s an existing subject to explore.
  139. One of the best topics on the history of explorations is the North Pole expeditions. It is full of dramatic events, and it took numerous failed attempts until the North Pole was finally reached in the XX century.
  140. The first English settlements in America are among the essential parts of the U.S. history before 1877. It includes stories of hardships of the first settlers, bad weather, hunger, and conflicts with native inhabitants.
  141. Napoleon is an incredibly interesting historical figure. You can write a stunning paper on the rise and fall of his empire.
  142. You can focus on a specific era in your essay – for example, Victorian England. This period of history, both fascinating and terrifying, still inspires countless novels, movies, and T.V. series.
  143. Titanic is an excellent topic for an essay and a discussion. A cautionary tale about a luxurious ship that sank due to criminal negligence.
  144. Death of the Romanovs is an interesting history topic that is still being investigated. This gruesome story inspired many myths, including that of the survival of Anastasia.
  145. Similarly, you can choose an essay on the assassination of J.F. Kennedy. Learn about what caused it and what long-term effects it had on the American nation.
  146. Similarly, the assassination of Martin Luther King was an enormous tragedy for the whole country. The circumstances of this event are still not entirely clear, and there are several different theories as to what happened.
  147. Chernobyl disaster is a fascinating topic that is very popular today. See what led to the tragedy, and what long-term consequences it had on nature and society.
  148. The fall of the Berlin Wall is a crucial event in modern history. You can write about life in GDR and FRG prior to the fall of the Wall and compare it to what happened afterward.
  149. Another history topic that you can choose for your essay is the history of berserkers. These Old Norse warriors were fighting in what’s often described as a trans-like state, and their name became synonymous with uncontrolled rage.

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.)

The analysis of historical events is subjective

Most importantly:

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!

You might also be interested in:

✏️  Historical Essay FAQ

Students are often asked to write on historical topics. Such an essay can be:
  1. A description of a persona;
  2. An analysis of historical events;
  3. An overview of the context of the whole epoch, etc.
In any case, a historical essay deals with a retrospective and requires looking into history.
There are countless interesting topics for essays and research projects. You can look into any epoch from the ancient times up to the present days. Choose something that genuinely fascinates you. You might prefer a controversial issue as it is more exciting to study.
For any research paper, it is essential to create an outline first. Once you’ve identified some key aspects that you want to focus on, write them as bullet points. They will become the Body of your research paper. Don’t forget to add an introduction and a conclusion.
Whether you write about the World, the civil, the cold, the Vietnam, or any other war, be sure to stay as objective as possible. It is a very emotionally charged topic, but you need to refrain from opinionated judgments. Do not resort to direct accusations.

🔗  References