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European History Research Project, Ms. McConnell  

Find biographical information, primary, and secondary sources for your event and/or person.
Last Updated: Dec 7, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Assignment Print Page

Library Catalog

Click on 'Chandramohan Library' via the link to access the Library Catalog.

Local Libraries

Art Center  - James Lemont Fogg Library

   -need parent/guardian to go with
   -photocopy from books -buy copy card
   -print from databases -buy copy card
   -check hours!
Pasadena City College Shatford Library
   -check out books
    (bring your PREP ID & $ for parking)
   -search online catalog first.
   By name, or time period.
Glendale Public Library
Pasadena Public Library
Arcadia Public Library
   -surprisingly large collection 
   -check out books
    (bring California ID for library card)
Los Angeles Public Library
   -excellent source for biography materials
    and historical context
   -downtown branch: use buddy system
   -bring ID to get library card
   + $ for parking
   -databases: great lives from history
   & biography in context
    (need LAPL card to access)
Altadena Library
   -good selection
County of Los Angeles Library
   -limit search to La Cañada and/or
    La Crescenta for local books
   (use pulldown tab next to "Library")
   California State University Los Angeles
   -may have resources
   -no borrowing books, or using databases though.
   -bring $ for parking and photocopying.

The Assignment

Honors European History


                                    Guide and Schedule for Research Project


General Remarks: Our project will be to use historical biography as a way to explore an historical event in a 1500 word essay. This will be in MLA format with correct citations and a complete bibliography. Your job is to thoroughly investigate an historical event through the primary focus of one individual. This should go beyond description and context and it should explain how this exploration helps us understand some important theme, idea, development, problem or challenge in European History.  Think of it as a DBQ where you are collecting the documents and setting the question. It could even be sort of fun.


Topic examples:

O’Connell and the Irish Famine                   Queen Victoria and Her Jubilee

Lord Palmerston and the Opium Wars      Cecil Rhodes and the Boer War

Lucretia Borgia and the Renaissance         William Godwin and the Enlightenment

Mary Wollstonecraft and the French Revolution.

Helmut Kohl and German reunification.

Princess Diana and landmines in Africa.

Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands War.

Goya and the 3rd of May 1808                       Picasso and Guernica

Montaigne and the French Wars of Religion.


Question examples:

Why was Kepler so involved with the occult?

Why did Robespierre change from an Enlightened thinker into a tyrant?

Did Napoleon help the causes of the French Revolution in spite of his authoritarian attitudes?

Why did Hitler attack modern artists, such as Marc Chagall?

What lessons have modern campaigners learned from Goebbels?

Why did Chamberlain believe that appeasement was the best policy?

Why was Dreyfus condemned despite obvious innocence?

How accurate are Solzhenitsyn’s descriptions of the Gulag?

Was Michael Collins a terrorist or an Irish hero?


Writing the Paper: An online guide explaining the steps in writing a research paper:


Source Requirements:

You must have at least 6 sources, and at least half must be books. These must be “legitimate” sources explicitly referenced. You must have at least 1 scholarly article and at least 1 primary source. You need to be selective on your internet sources. No non-academic websites may be used. Flintridge Prep endorsed websites (i.e. sites that link from the library homepage) and websites ending in .edu are permissible.

You may need to look beyond the library for your search. As Prep librarians for help.


General rules about what you need to footnote:

            -all direct quotes

            -any controversial piece of data

            - any unique or unusual interpretation even if it no directly quoted. You need to give intellectual credit when it is due. This shows intellectual integrity.

            -you do NOT need to footnote “General information” (rule of thumb – anything you can find in a library in 20 minutes. You would almost never cite a textbook or encyclopedia except as a direct quote…but probably not a great quote choice)

            - you do not need to quote information which shows up over and over again. In theory after a few encounters with the same information, you now know it.

            I imagine 15 – 20 citations in most papers, but be scrupulous in your honesty.



___Monday Nov. 19th:  Read the packet and select a viable topic.  You need to select a person who will be your “guide” to a deeper understanding of a historical era. This should feel like the film about David and the French Revolution or the article on Frederick the Great and the War of Austrian Succession.  Think broadly about what subjects interest you. Have any class questions piqued your curiosity? Peruse your book, or an AP Euro study guide, or your parents, or siblings, or internet to discover someone you would like to know much more about. Once you have decided on a person, do a quick biographical search to see what important historical events might be a good topic link. Come to class with 3 “possibles” in mind.


___Tues. Nov. 20th. After class discussion on Monday, you should be able to start creating interesting questions you hope to explore/answer about your person and his/her connection to a particular moment in history. You may need to use your text or internet to learn more about the specific event in question in order to generate at least 5 potential questions to try and answer. Once you have some question in mind, brain storm key words that might me useful for your search. It would be great if you narrowed to 1 person, but that can wait until tomorrow if you wish. Remember there is NO PERFECT TOPIC and to spend a huge amount of time worrying about what to write about is much less useful than getting started and sharpening the topic as you move along.

**WE WILL MEET IN THE LIBRARY TODAY.** Be prepared to Be efficient. The main purpose today is to work with the librarians to find out what resources are available at Prep and how to use other libraries if you need to. This is also when you want to consult reference books to contextualize your person and generate more interesting and specific questions. Research from the most general sources to the more specific.  Create a working bibliography as you go along. Try to leave the library with at least 1 solid source you can work with.


___Weds. Nov. 21st: Due to the schedule we may not meet today, but* you need to turn into the box in my room the following: (be sure to keep a copy for yourself)

a.      your topic

b.     several questions that you hope to explore. Try to create questions you are really curious about

c.      a general plan of how you plan to discover information in order to answer your questions

d.     at least 5 notecards showing the technique you plan to use (consistency and adequate information and source link are key)


___Monday Nov. 26th

**WE WILL MEET IN THE LIBRARY TODAY** You should now be ready to really dig into library sources and start collecting notecards. For each source that you use (book, article, internet cite, person etc.) be sure to collect ALL necessary bibliographic information. We will be using the MLA format (copies of instruction in the library as well as on the internet). Keep your bibliography current. I will not proscribe how you do your note cards, but I will need to see “hard copies” at times. Each notecard MUST have a system where you can state specifically which source and where in that source the idea, quote, statistic, observation….came from. These cards must be independent so that you can rearrange them in the order you need in order to answer your question. Ultimately you need to have adequate notecards to answer your question. I believe 50 is a minimum number. By the end of the period you need 2 solid sources that you have started to take notes from.


___Monday Dec. 3rd

*You need to turn in a “working bibliography” and 20 notecards and a basic idea of your “controlling purpose”, the big goal of your paper.




___Friday Dec. 7th

*You need to turn in 20 more notecards, and updated bibliography,  a tentative thesis (the response to your question that you wish to prove), and a basic outline of your paper’s structure. In creating a thesis, remember that you are trying to use a small piece of history in order to illuminate broader ideas about, and interpretations of, the past.

**WE WILL MEET IN THE LIBRARY TODAY** Make sure you have found all the source material that you need to complete the project and now only need to ferret out the data, bearing in mind your thesis and structure. This would be a good day to realize what areas still need more discovery to flesh out the idea.


___Monday Dec. 10th 

You need to have adequate notecards to write your paper. **Turn in the first 3 paragraphs of your paper and “developed outline” of the rest (topic sentences and at least 1 quote for each of the following paragraphs). I will return these to you quickly so you can  get the rough draft done by Thurs.


___Thursday Dec. 13th

Write the rough draft. Know that it is called “rough” for a reason. Get something down, complete, with a clear structure answering your question. You may discover that you need a bit more information in one part or another or that you have drifted into something too descriptive. It is better to correct a faulty draft than to delay and not give yourself the opportunity to make it balanced.



Try reading it aloud. That can oftentimes catch awkward phrases as well as lapses in logic.


___Tues. Dec. 18th

Polish the rough draft. Make sure you are in MLA format. Make sure you have standard grammar, spelling, and correct citations. It should be pretty close to done by now. Re-work your paper, tightening, compressing, and deepening. Some of you may choose to be wildly time efficient and turn it in and have a pretty relaxed week!

The paper should be around 1500 words, double-spaced, 12-point/Times New Roman font.

            -If you would like to include maps, images, charts, etc. you must make an appendix and include it with your final project

            -All pages must be numbered

            -Put your name and the due date at the top of the paper

            -Give your paper a zippy title


___Weds. Dec. 19th.

Final perusal, checking for errors, making sure you  don’t need anything else to complete your quest.

WE WILL MEET IN THE LIBRARY. YOU WILL BE FREE TO WORK ON YOUR FINAL COPY INDEPENDENTLY OR PEER EDIT.  Some of you may be time efficient and turn it in to enjoy a couple of no homework nights.


___Thurs. Dec. 20th. RESEARCH PROJECT IS DUE. No matter what your holiday plans, etc., make sure the paper is in before you go away on break. It can come in on Fri. (with only 2 points taken off for lateness), but aim for Thurs.


We have 10 homeworks and 6 classes set aside for the project. It won’t divide up that evenly, but be realistic in your time commitments. Be thorough, but also be efficient. Researching, questioning, structuring and then more research, better questions, and tighter structure will result in a smoothly written final draft.




The Librarians

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Sue Hodge, Meryl Eldridge, Reggie Ursettie
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Librarians' Assistance

We are happy to help you find sources after you have spent time searching on your own.  We expect you to tell us the keywords you've used, what you've found so far, and what you need beyond that. 


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