How to Write a History Research Paper in 5 Easy Steps

Are you confused about how to write a good history research paper? You're at the right place. Our guide will highlight the best tips for writing about history to ensure a good grade.

Although research papers are a staple for university-level students, they rank among the most dreaded tasks. This fear is often caused by the unfamiliar nature of research papers and the overwhelming amount of required research.

Without further ado, let's dive into the process of writing a history research paper.

How to start a history paper

  1. Choose a topic

After receiving the assignment, many students tend to rush into the task only to be stuck in a rut midway through the writing process. To avoid this, you should take time to consult the question and understand what your tutor requires you to do.

Next, find a specific issue to address within the question you have been assigned. Preferably, this topic should invoke your interest as this keeps you focused on the paper through the research and writing phases.

While at this, peruse various materials you may use to support your argument. It would help if you avoided topics with little supporting material, resulting in a significant challenge in preparing your history research paper.

  1. Research your topic

After selecting your topic, research materials to be used in making your paper. Here, limit your search to reliable materials and recent journals that may shed light on your argument.

Also, consult materials in the related topics to better understand your argument. You may consider consulting your tutor or librarian for guidance on your selected topic before you proceed to compile it.

Use scientific search engines to reduce the clutter of unreliable sources and identify the topics that are covered exhaustively. Be wary of exhausted topics as they may limit your argument and result in plagiarism.

Finally, make a thesis statement that clearly states the purpose of your paper. It is also good to jot down the materials you find relevant for easy retrieval in the drafting phase.

  1. Make an outline

A research paper outline is a critical element in the writing process. The outline helps you plan the flow of your paper and gauge the completeness of your argument before you begin writing your paper.

In some instances, your tutor may collect the outline for assessment. It is thus critical to master how to write an outline for a history research paper to get decent results in case of assessment.

  1. Write

After outlining your paper, you can quickly go about writing. First, prepare your first draft and consult your peers and tutor for feedback. Rewrite your paper while paying attention to the identified errors and revise the second draft.

You can edit it for grammatical errors when you are confident that your paper is free of loopholes and fallacies.

The history paper introduction should clearly state your thesis and your standpoint. You may thus opt to write your introduction last. At this point, you are well acquainted with the topic and can thus create an appealing intro that captures your significant arguments.

  1. Editing

This is perhaps the most straightforward part of the entire process of writing a history research paper. After completing your paper, take time off and edit your paper later.

Doing this allows you to notice various issues better. While at this, check the intext citations and bibliographies to ensure that each in-text citation is listed on the references section and vice versa.

Next, check the guiding questions your professor has offered and assess how well you have achieved the requirements. You may also delegate the editing phase to a friend as they are better placed to identify errors that could quickly go unnoticed by you.

The Lincoln Douglas Debates

The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a crucial point in American history. In the years prior to the Civil War, obviously, the issues of states’ rights and slavery were becoming important issues of discussion. Abraham Lincoln, who was running for Senate as a Republican, debated against the current Senator, Stephen Douglas, a Democrat. There were seven debates in all.

During the Galesburg Debate, on important issue that was discussed focused on the expansion of the country into new states and what laws would be used in these states. Senator Douglas believed that the new states should decide for themselves. Lincoln disagreed with this position. He believed that slavery should not be allowed in new states. Obviously, this was a source of contention at the time. It involved both the possible spread of slavery, as well as the issue of states’ rights. 

Another significant issue was how blacks were treated at the time. Lincoln argued that blacks (who are referred to as “negroes” at this time in history) deserved some claim to the rights issued in the Declaration of Independence. It is important to note that the future President, known for the Emancipation Proclamation, argued that this right might be “humble.” However, in a wonderful piece of rhetoric, Lincoln called upon the light of liberty when discussing what rights should be given to individuals. 

Just like today, both were politicians and challenged the statements made by the other. An important part of Douglas’ speech was his assertion that Lincoln changed his speeches depending upon where he was in the country. Douglas asserted that Lincoln’s speeches were different in Northern territories from the ones he gave in Southern territories. Douglas asserts that Lincoln’s one speech argued that blacks deserved as many rights as other men according to the Declaration of Independence. This is a crucial part of the debate. 

In the second part of the assignment, I have been given the character of Mark Shepherdson, a fifth generation Georgian planter. I own approximate forty slaves and am 41 years old at this time. I have six children, as well as a wife. My plantation is for cotton. As such, I would respond differently to various issues than a Northerner and an abolitionist.

"Dred Scott v. Sandford" was a landmark case. I would support the decision of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that blacks, regardless of their slave status, were not citizens. Therefore, they had no right to sue. This would allow me to keep my slaves as my property and to work my land. Blacks are not citizens; they are property. 

"Bleeding Kansas” is quite worrisome to me. This was a series of border wars between those who support slavery and those who oppose it. This worries me because it indicates that the abolitionists are willing to spill Southern blood to have their way. I find it concerning because it indicates that there might be more fighting in the future with regards to the issue of slavery. 

John Brown's trial and execution occurred to maintain order in the South. I support the trial and execution of any abolitionist who wants to essentially destroy the stability of the south and free the slaves. He was the equivalent of a terrorist in that he used extreme measures to support his views. This views are antithetical to the idea of the Southern ideals.

The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States is something I would not support. Obviously, Lincoln gave some speeches that indicate that he believes that blacks deserve equal rights, and therefore be made free. I cannot support my plantation without free labor. This is my family’s land and it needs slaves to work it. I resent individuals who want to destroy my way of life; this is one my family has had for generations.


History. “Bleeding Kansas.” 2014. 24 November 2014. Available at:

Final Take

A history research paper does not necessarily have to be a daunting undertaking. The step above should serve as a roadmap to help you approach your paper and chunk the writing process into small manageable milestones.