Students at all levels of study will be enrolled in history courses – some required, some optional. And at least by the time high school rolls around, there will be research essays and papers to write, and as students progress through college, history research paper topics will become more sophisticated and the research more complex. Nevertheless, history can be fascinating, if students are able to find engaging topics within the curriculum of their coursework. And crafting those essays and papers can be far more enjoyable if a topic is intriguing.
So, let’s have a look at some of the most popular and exciting history topics for research paper writing, in a variety of courses, no matter what the level of study.
Popular Topics by Specific Subject
This subject may be divided into periods of U.S. history – exploration and colonization, early republic, Civil War and Reconstruction, industrial revolution and modernization, U.S. as a world power following World War I, Post World War II America, America in the 21st century. Each of these periods presents potential history term paper topics that students should find engaging. Here are just a few:
1. A contemporary political commenter recently stated, “There is only one time in history that immigrants to America were actually dangerous and a violent threat. And every November, we celebrate it.” Potential thesis: Native Americans resisted westward expansion of the “White man” for very valid reasons, and the White man’s response is a blot on our history.
2. Throughout history, White Anglo-Saxons have resisted and discriminated against immigrants from non-Anglo countries. How is this playing out in the 21st century?
3. Many identify slavery as the single most important cause of the Civil War. Is this true? Potential Thesis: The issue of slavery was a symptom of a much larger issue that resulted in the Civil War – power of the Federal government vs. states’ rights.
4. Guerilla warfare was first experienced during the French and Indian War. It has since been a type of warfare in which the US. has been involved in both Asia and the Middle East. Is contemporary terrorism and terrorist acts simply a new type of guerilla warfare?
5. Every war in which the U.S. has been involved since world War II has ended without a clear winner or loser. What has changed to cause this?
6. Inequality and discrimination are still “alive and well” in the U.S. How has the current political climate contributed to a continuation of this?
7. Voter suppression is a hot topic today. How have recent Supreme Court decisions and congressional action (or lack thereof) contributed to this?
8. The demographic makeup of the United States is changing at a rapid rate and has caused a political division. In the words of the Star Trek Borgs, “Resistance if futile.” Is this true in this circumstance.
9. Is the current interpretation of the Second Amendment what the framers of the Constitution intended?
This is a huge area of study that is difficult to break down into sub-topics. Historically, we can divide world history into time periods – ancient, medieval, modern, and post-modern – and each period provides a wealth of topics for research. As well, there are specific thematic topics – an art history research paper, for example, that compares art of Europe and Asia during the same time periods.
And as student progress into graduate history programs, the topics for history dissertation research move into theses on the philosophy of history, as opposed to specific eras, themes, etc. For example, a grad student might attack the thesis that all of history is the result of the swing from society’s need for security vs. freedom.
Here are some ideas for world history topics for research paper writing. Some of them are objective; others quite controversial:
1. Ancient Greece was made up of city-states with very different political systems – from the democracy of Athens to the military dictatorship of Sparta. The Roman Empire borrowed elements of all of these various systems.
2. What conditions in Germany allowed Hitler’s rise to power? What modern day countries exhibit these conditions, and are there modern-day Hitler’s on a smaller scale?
3. What role did the Balfour Declaration and the Holocaust play in the current state of continued war in the Middle East?
It has been said that war is the result of rich people sending poor people to fight in order to preserve and increase their wealth.
4. What examples in history serve to prove this point?
What role has religion played in politics and government? Obviously, this topic could be as narrow as the influence of religion in a country or two that are considered theocracies to a much broader topic, as grad students are looking for history dissertation ideas.
5. How has art been a reflection of the time periods in which the artists lived? Art history research paper topics might relate to the total religious nature of art of early Christianity, to the more secular focus once the Renaissance and new thought emerged, to the impressionists and modern art that reflects individuality, sometimes chaos, etc.
6. Arthur Miller wrote a play, “The Crucible,” in 1953 – about the Salem Witch Trials. The play is often considered to be a condemnation of McCarthyism, which was an attempt by Congress to “weed out” communists, especially within the entertainment industry in the U.S. Researching the actions of the Puritans and the “McCarthy-ites” in a comparative analysis would be a great way to combine politics and literature in a historical context. And these activities could also be compared to more contemporary “witch hunts” around the globe.
7. The growth of feminism around the globe, and its relationship to female education. There is a common thesis that, once education for females becomes standard fare in a country, male dominance is challenged and decreased. Prepare a research paper showing a couple of examples of this thesis. What are the implications for countries that still keep women in inferior positions?
8. Technology and its impact on the growth of what is now called a “Global Society.” Certainly, technology has created a much smaller and much more interdependent world. What are the benefits and drawbacks of globalism.
These topics may not appeal to you. So, here are some others that may:
1. Find an example of history repeating itself.
2. Desert Storm
3. The Arab-Israeli War of 1967
4. Controversy over who really built the Egyptian pyramids
5. How did Japan recover from World War II and become a major economic power in the world?
6. Is the thaw in relations between North and South Korea real?
7. How do the Crusades compare to contemporary Jihad?
8. How the Roman Empire fell from within?
9. Oil as a reason for war
10. Trace the history of child labor in the U.S. and Europe
11. Watergate and the comparison to current investigations of the Trump administration
12. The Industrial Revolution in England and its effects on the rest of Europe and its colonization activities
13. How the assassination of Martin Luther King moved the civil rights movement forward.
14. The voting rights movement in the U.S. in the late 60’s and early 70‘s and the violence it sparked.
15. The Reign of Terror following the French Revolution.
16. Comparison and contrast of the American and French Revolutions
17. The causes of the War of 1812
18. Reasons for failure of the Weimar Republic following World War I
19. The success of Vietnam after its destructive civil war
20. Post-World War II American prosperity
21. Reasons for the refusal of Congress to confirm Wilson’s dream for the League of Nations and the ensuing isolationism.
22. Complex and often messy U.S. foreign policy since the 9-11 attack
23. The significant results of the Battle of Hastings that shaped British history
24. How American folk music of the 1960’s reflected the social and cultural environment of the times
25. How the realism period of art reflected the philosophy of Humanism
26. Colonization in Africa and Asia and the competition among European nations for economic supremacy
27. The influence of the works of Karl Marx on uprisings and ultimate Communist takeover in Russia
28. The Romanov Dynasty in Russia and the violent end to it
29. The environment for African-American soldiers in the U.S. military during both World Wars
30. Why the Great Depression that began in the U.S. n 1929 spread throughout the world.
31. Conditions in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler
32. Psychological study of why Aryan Germans were so quick to condemn the Jews for all of their troubles
33. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising
34. Changes in fashion during the 20th century as a reflection of early feminism
35. End to British Rule in India
36. Comparison to British and French response to loss of their overseas empires
37. Sports in the Roman Empire
38. Architecture of the Renaissance
39. Music created for political causes
40. Early “cures” for typical ailments
41. Heroes of the French resistance during World War II
42. How the Hippie culture was a reflection of its time
43. The Kent State “uprising” against the Vietnam War
44. A historical look at the evolution from rhythm and blues to rock and roll
45. Film propaganda during the Cold War
46. Comparison of education in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
47. What were the justifications for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and how were they countered?
48. Are Trump’s claims about the crisis at the southern border justified/true?
49. Violations of human rights in some Muslim countries?
50. How have unions lost their power?
51. The Cuban Missile Crisis
52. The Space Race as a symptom of the Cold War
53. Famous breaches of data systems
54. What was the “British Invasion” of U.S. music and what impact did it have?
55. The U.S. elections in which a President has lost the popular vote but won the electoral college vote
56. Why the War on Drugs has been an epic failure
57. The Civil War in China from 1945-49
58. Major contributions of ancient civilizations
59. The influence of Sigmund Freud on modern psychology
60. The history of Microsoft
61. The history of Apple
62. How a free-wheeling economy of the 1920’s led to the stock market crash
63. Prohibition during the 1920’s in the U.S. and the rise of organized crime
64. Sherman’s March to the Sea
65. Invention of the cotton gin as the beginning of the end to slavery in the U.S.
66. Why the Articles of Confederation were a failure
67. A history of the Irish Republican Army
68. Why the Dark Ages were not really “dark.”
69. The Protestant Reformation
70. Modern-day piracy off the African coast
71. Discuss the players and the “deals” that came out of the Yalta Conference
72. What was “Operation Paperclip” and was it successful?
73. Division and reunification of Germany
74. Medical experimentation on those in prisons and mental institutions in the early 20th century
75. The Carnation Revolution of 1974 and its importance
76. Most famous political scandals
77. Evolution of democratic socialism
78. U.S. financial crisis of 2008 and measures to prevent recurrence (or not)
79. Paranoia during the Cold War as a cause of McCarthyism
80. Involvement of Wikileaks in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S.
81. How alternative educational delivery systems are disrupting traditional education
82. Policies and programs of The New Deal that are still in effect
83. How the Kennedy assassination spurred the Civil Rights and voting Rights Bills
84. The Paris Climate Accord – Who’s in and Who’s Out
85. Years in which the Olympics have become politicized
86. The EU – has is unified Europe
87. Brexit- implications for the EU
88. Persecutions of early philosophers and scientists who “bucked” common belief systems.
89. The impact of Darwin’s work and response of traditional religious institutions
90. Inventions that have changed the world, beginning with the printing press
91. The promises and horrors of nuclear power
92. How the Internet has contributed to globalization
93. How developing countries have bypassed traditional infrastructure and moved into the digital age
94. Emerging middle classes in developing countries
95. The decline of Spain as a world power as it lost its colonial empire
96. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath
97. The evolving role of the Shogun in Japanese history
98. What was the Silk Road and how did it operate?
99. How did the Code of Hammurabi impact later codification of laws?
100. How did the Interstate highway system in America change its culture?
101. The Political Structure of Ancient Egypt
102. The Social Habits of Ancient Egyptians
103. Discuss the Structure of Labor in Ancient Egypt
104. The Evolution of Ancient Egypt
105. How the Americans Discovered Ancient Egypt
106. Deities and Spirituality in Ancient Egypt
107. The Buildings and Architectural Style of the Egyptians
108. Geographical and Agricultural Aspects Regarding Ancient Egypt
109. The Cultural and Artistic Aspects of the Ancient Greek Society
110. Ancient Athenian Myths
111. Famous Scholars of Ancient Greece
112. Ancient Greek Housing and Architecture
113. Mythology and Legends of Ancient Greece
114. Spirituality of Ancient Greece
115. Agriculture in Ancient Greece
116. The Historical Evolution of the Acropolis
117. How Rome Was Established and How It Evolved
118. The Expansion of the Roman Empire and How They Influenced Other Ancient Civilizations
119. The Events That Caused to the Collapse of the Roman Empire
120. The Military of the Roman Empire
121. The Government of Ancient Rome
122. Deities of Ancient Rome
123. Knighthood in the Dark Ages
124. The Dark Ages vs. the Age of Enlightenment
125. Motivations and Outcomes of the Holy Wars
126. Religion in the Dark Ages
127. Money in the Dark Ages
128. The Atlantic Before the Arrival of the Settlers
129. How Did the European Settlers and the Native Americans Interact with One Another?
130. How Puritanism Influenced American Ethics
131. The Reasons and Outcomes of the American Revolutionary War
132. The British People and Colonialism
133. The US’ Role in the Second World War
134. The Mayan and Aztec Civilizations
135. The Colonization of Guatemala
136. The War Between Mexico and the United States
137. The Historical Significance of the Number 13
138. Music of Ancient Civilizations
139. American Involvement in the Korean War
140. The Causes and Effects of the Military Coups in Nigeria
141. Roman Graffiti
142. The Gender Roles in Roman Society
143. The Prominent Figures of the American Revolution
144. The Similarities of American and Bolshevik Revolutions
145. The History of Japanese Isolationism
146. British Colonization of Africa
147. The Influence of Oppression on African American Music
148. Sacrifices in Aztec Life Before the Arrival of the Colonists
149. The Causes and Effects of Manifest Destiny
150. The Economics of International Trade During the Renaissance
151. Why Was America Called “a Land of Opportunity”?
152. If You Lived in America in 1776, Would You Be a Revolutionary?
153. Is the American Constitution Flexible Enough?
154. Can the War in Vietnam Be Justified?
155. Should the United States Play the Role of the “World’s Policeman”?
156. Native Americans’ Opposition to the Colonists
157. The Role of the Sons of Liberty in the US History
158. The Influence of George Washington on the Outcome of the American Revolution
159. Have the Embargo Act Provided Expected Influences on the Us Economy?
160. How the North and the South Differ in the Framework of Politics?
161. The Role of Female Politicians in the US History
162. Does the Fact of Having an African American President Eliminates the Problem of Racial Discrimination in USA?
163. The History of Women’s Rights in America
164. How Male and Female Education Was Different in the 20th Century?
165. The Opium Wars in China
166. The Personality of Grigoriy Rasputin, and His Relations with the Romanovs
167. Margaret Thatcher and Her Role in World’s History
168. The History and Global Spread of AIDS
169. Why Is the Gold Standard Rejected by the UK?
170. How Was the Spread of the Bubonic Plague Addressed?
171. What Makes the Chinese Empire Unique?
172. Did Greeks or Romans Influenced the World’s History the Most?
173. In Ancient China Doctors Received Payment Only If They Managed to Cure a Patient
174. The Shortest War in the History: Anglo-Zanzibar War
175. The Dyslexia of Leonardo Da Vinci
176. Did Arabs Really Invent the Arab Numerals?
177. Birth Control Movement in the USA
178. The Usage of Baths as Rehabilitation Centers for Soldiers in Rome
179. Out of the Last 3500 Years, Just a Little over 200 Years We Had Peaceful
180. A School Project Graded B- Is Now the US Flag
History is a fascinating subject. It reveals the march of humanity from living in caves to a “landscape” of modern lifestyles. Throughout all of this, people have faced challenges, conflicts, optimism, pessimism, major breakthroughs, and horrible events. Researching any of these can be an engaging and enlightening experience. When that research must be translated into a scholarly piece of writing, there can be challenges. Fortunately, technology has provided some ways to alleviate the anxiety of research paper writing. Accessing a good history research paper example can provide a model for creating your own. But remember this: a sample history research paper is just that – a sample. Be academically honest, put your own creative and analytical thought into your paper, and craft one you can be proud of.