How to come up with history research paper topics

Thinking out of the box when it comes to a history topic will impress your professor. Instead of getting a few resources together and reporting a bunch of facts, why not try something a little unorthodox to stand out above your peers?

The ‘learn from history’ approach

Ever heard the saying, ‘Those who fail to learn from the mistakes made in history are doomed to repeat them’? Try taking this approach to your research topic. Explore one or more mistakes that have been made in history and bring those facts into today.

Take a position of evaluating what mistakes we have learned from, or more interestingly, discover what mistakes we’re currently repeating out of history, (and what the effect may be). This angle will likely make a good impression on your professor.

The ‘cause & effect’ approach

An approach where either the cause or the effect is focused on can be very insightful to study. Have a look at an historic event and ask questions; Where did it lead? Where and when, if ever, has it stopped? Who gained something out of it? Has it had an impact on us today?

These questions will make for superb, opinionated writing, especially if it’s well researched. Remember to follow a chain system when asking these questions. Start with evaluating the cause, and then study the effects, not forgetting to include everything in between.

The ‘alternative outcome’ approach

What about an approach of hypothesizing (with researched facts of course) what would’ve happened if an historic event had turned out differently to what it did? What if Hitler had succeeded in his World War 2 attempts—would the world be predominantly German speaking today? Or what if the South had won the American Civil War—would slavery have been abolished as quickly as it was, or even at all?

Looking at history from a hypothetical viewpoint can be very enriching, and forces the writer and the reader to explore the things we take for granted in today’s society.

The ‘how far we’ve come’ approach

Have a good look at history and ask yourself how different we are today than what we were, say, one hundred years ago. How have certain things impacted our lives in a way they never could centuries or even decades ago? Technological and scientific breakthroughs like radio, penicillin, space travel and automobiles have transformed the way we live in many ways. Working backwards from this point, history and historical breakthroughs can become a lot more interesting because of the supporting evaluation of how much we’ve changed because of them.

These topics should start you in the right direction and hopefully inspire you to think up some other great themes for history papers. It’s all about perspective. If you can force an extraordinary outlook on a subject, chances are your reader will enjoy every moment of examining your research.