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Syllabus for 304

Historical Methods

History 304-75(WR): Historical Methods

                                                             Tuesday 430-715 pm

                                                                  Gottschalk 203


Instructor: Dr. K'Meyer

Office: 101B Gottschalk Hall, 852-6819

Office Hours: Tuesday 200-400, Thursday 930-1130; and by appointment



Course Objectives/What is History 304:

This course is an introduction to the discipline of history.  We will cover the basic skills and methods in historical research, with an emphasis on reading and using various forms of primary evidence, as well as an introduction to the philosophy of history, historiography and the various approaches historians take to the research and writing of history.  This course is a requirement for history majors.  This course meets WR requirements.


Overview of Course Content:

In this class we will go through the process of researching and writing a historical paper.  This semester the focus of the research project will be on modern US History (1945-1990), drawing on sources available in local archives and libraries.  Students will identify a research topic, locate primary and secondary source material, and write a 15 page paper.  In addition, in this course we will be discussing different approaches to the study of history.  All class meetings will be conducted as seminars–meaning students will engage in discussion of readings and assignments.  There will be very little lecture.



Roger Adelson, Speaking of History

John Tosh, Historians on History (second edition)

John Tosh and Sean Lang, The Pursuit of History (fourth edition)



For due dates see the course schedule.

Research paper. 40%.  Students will write a 15 page research paper.  An assignment sheet will be distributed in class in class. Over the course of the semester students will turn in:

.         a topic paragraph

·         source list/research plan

·         draft

  • final paper

Failure to turn in the topic paragraph and source list/research plan on the date due will

result in 10 points being subtracted from the final paper grade.  Failure to turn in a

complete draft on the due date will result in 20 points being subtracted from the final

paper grade.

Short exercises.  5% each.  10% total.  Assignment sheets will be handed out in class for each

            of the following:

  • Commentary on fellow student’s draft.  3-5 pages. 
  • Primary source response paper.  3-5 pages.  Note that students will bring a selection of primary sources to class three weeks and be prepared to discuss them.  The third week the paper on these sources will be due.

Book essays/reviews.  10% each.  30% total.  Students will write papers on Historians on

            History, Speaking of History, and a monograph on the subject of their research paper. 

            Assignment sheets will be handed out in advance with questions and directions. 

Participation.  20%.  This is a seminar class.  It depends on students being prepared (having

            done assignments and reading), showing up, and participating in the discussion.  Please

            note this is a fairly substantial part of your final grade.



This class will be graded with plus and minus grades.

The grade scale is as follows–

97-100=A+                             87-89=B+        77-79=C+        67-69=D+       59 and Below=F

93-96=A          84-86=B          74-76=C          64-66=D         

90-92=A-        80-83=B-         70-73=C-         60-63=D-


Rules and Such:

All students with a disability who require special accommodation to participate in and complete

this course must contact the Disabilities Resource Center (852-6938) for verification of

eligibility and for determination of specific accommodation.  Please also see me as soon

as possible.

Participation: This class requires participation by all students in discussions.  Your absence hurts

others.  Therefore attendance/participation will count as part of your grade. 

Assignment due dates/times: Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date assigned.

Acceptable excuses for late assignments are: illness of you or your dependent(s) with a doctor’s note verifying the incapacitation, or death in the immediate family.  Note that computer problems, jobs, and university functions are not acceptable excuses for lateness. All excuses should be given to me within 24 hours of the class in which the assignment is due.  No excuses will be accepted after that.

Any incidence of plagiarism in any assignment will result in a ZERO on the assignment and will be reported to the Dean’s office.  See attached description of plagiarism.


The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus when necessary.  Students will be notified in advance of these changes.



August 25: Introduction to the course.


September 1: What is history

Pursuit of History, chapters 1-3.

We will meet in Ekstrom library.  Room W102.


September 8: Finding and using sources

Pursuit of History, chapter 4.

We will meet in the University Archives


September 15: Evaluating Secondary Sources

First primary source exercise due


September 22: Primary source discussion

Second primary source exercise due

Topic paragraph due.


September 29: Organizing and Writing a Paper

Third primary source exercise due

Primary source response paper due.


October 6: Oral History

Pursuit of History, chapter 11.

Source list/research plan due


October 13: Fall Break

Book review due by 430 pm on Friday October 16.

Extra credit:  To earn up to five points extra credit students may do one of the following:

  • Attend/volunteer at the Oral History Association meeting and write 3-5 page response paper
  • Locate and read five oral history interviews on subject of research paper and write 5 page response paper.

This extra credit must be discussed with instructor in advance and is due in class October 20.


October 20: Thinking about history

Pursuit of History, chapters 5-8, 10


October 27: No Class

Individual meetings as requested


November 3: Thinking about history II

Historians on History reading and paper due.


November 10: No Class

Outline due by 530 in History Dept office

Individual meetings as requested


November 17: Being a Historian

Speaking of History reading and paper due.


November 24: Public History

Drafts due.  Students will receive another student’s draft for review.



December 1: Last day


discussion of student draft commentary and suggestions.


December 15: Final Paper due by 530 PM in History Dept office.

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