Prof. Cerri SCC
Hist. 311 Spring 2010
Choose one of the topics below and write an 8-10 page, typed, Times New Roman font, double-
spaced paper with one inch margins.
1. Write a paper discussing your own ethnic roots. Trace your maternal and/or
paternal forbears. If immigrant, where did they come from? What can you learn
about their lives before migration, their motivations in coming, and their initial
experiences in this country? Move beyond description and discuss what you can
learn about your ancestors' changing relations to American society. What
evidence is there of your forbears' acceptance or rejection of assimilation? If it
seems appropriate, discuss the influence ethnicity has had on your own life.
As you write your paper, use the stories your family members provide you, but also see if
you can critique them. Try to act like a historian and distance yourself from your family’s
narratives and comment on any stories you are told that you have doubts about and
explain why. Trying to separate constructed family traditions and the actual family
history can be a very useful process as you work on this assignment.
If you are an immigrant yourself, please focus these questions on your own experience
and write a first-person Roots paper.
(See various examples of Root Papers at this website.) Very different kinds of papers
work well; write and shape your paper to convey the richness of human experience you
discover in the process of looking into your family roots.
2. Tape record a 60-90 minute interview focusing on the immigration experience of
a Sacramentan. In addition, write a paper describing and analyzing this person's
experience. Address the questions noted above in connection with the Roots
paper: what can you learn about the person's life before migration, her/his
motivations for coming to the U.S., and her/his initial experiences in this country?
What can you learn about your person's changing relations to American society?
What evidence is there of her/his acceptance or rejection of assimilation?
In working on this second topic, you should draw upon the Oral History Interview Guide
provided on Thomas Dublin’s course website. The guide offers suggestions on how to
prepare for the interview and on writing your paper. It also has considerable background
material on immigrants in Broome County, New York. (Thomas Dublin is a leading
scholar and historian of US social and labor history, and this assignment barrows heavily
from Prof. Dublin’s)
NEXT, all students must use the primary documents and sources available on the
CD-ROM and/or MyHistoryLab to compare your immigrant experience with that of
immigrants from earlier generations.
1. The paper must be written using Chicago Style notation (Go to A
Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and click on the History (Chicago
Style) link at http://dianahacker.com/resdoc/ ).
2. Papers must incorporate at least five (5) primary source documents,
not counting the subject(s) of the paper. These sources should be
collected from the CD-ROM and/or MyHistoryLab. (The class
textbook, Out of Many is a wonderful source and may be used for the
assignment, but it does not count as a primary source, as it is a
3. Papers must include at least 20 footnotes.
4. Must include a works cited page.
On the day papers are due, two copies need to be submitted. An electronic copy must be sent to
turnitin.com (a plagiarism deterrent and detection service) and a hard copy must be submitted to
the teacher. Please put the hard copy together in this order: Plagiarism form, final draft,
works cited page, rough draft. Late papers will be penalized 5 points for every 24 hour period.
Papers more than 5 days late cannot be accepted, resulting in a “F” on the paper, and there for a
“F” in the class. Plagiarized papers may result in a “F” on the paper, and therefore a “F” in the
class. DO NOT DO IT. DO NOT RISK IT. See the discussion about plagiarism below.
Paper grades will be determined by:
1. The strength of the thesis and how well it is supported by the evidence (i.e. examples
from your sources).
2. Structure and style. Is the research paper well organized and clearly written? Is the
paper’s main argument followed throughout? Do topic sentences direct the paragraphs,
and is it clear how they relate to the thesis? Is the paper proofread and polished?
3. Footnotes, citations, and works cited page. Are there enough and appropriate
citations? Is it clear from where your information is coming? The best rule to follow:
if you did not know the information before you started the project, then it needs to be
documented using Chicago style footnotes (Go to A Writer’s Reference by Diana
Hacker and click on the History (Chicago Style) link at
Guidelines for Writing your Paper
1. This paper must have an argument. The thesis statement should be a one-sentence
summary of your argument that appears in the first paragraph. Remember, a good thesis
statement usually answers a “why” or “because” question. It is not enough just to
summarize information about the topic. An argument, or thesis, expresses your opinion
about the topic. A good thesis for this assignment might compare the immigrant
experiences from the different periods, but should move beyond simply stating what
happened, and address why it was relevant.
2. Your paper must present evidence to support your argument. After stating your argument
you need to convince the reader that there is evidence to support it. For this paper, the
evidence will come from the interview(s) of your subject(s), the Faragher textbook, and
at least five primary sources drawn from the CD-ROM and/or MyHistoryLab.
Summarize, paraphrase, or use direct quotes from these sources to back up your
3. Make sure the paper addresses the historical context of immigration in the different
periods involved in your study (the Faragher textbook is useful for this purpose)
Organization and Mechanics
You need to use citations for all information that is not common knowledge. All evidence
(quotes, paraphrases, or summaries taken from other sources) must be cited using Chicago Style
1. Evidence should be linked to your argument by the use of topic sentences for each
paragraph. Topic sentences are general statements about the ideas within each paragraph
and they are critical in the organization of the paper. Usually topic sentences can be
drawn directly from the major points of your outline. (Hint, hint, draw up an outline
before you begin the writing.)
2. Strong papers have strong introductions and conclusions. The introduction should set
up the content of the paper and include the thesis statement and the end of the paragraph.
A good conclusion summarizes your argument rather than just restating it. A good
conclusion can also take your argument to a higher level by suggesting the relevance to a
larger issue. Be careful, however, that you do not make a new argument in the
3. Integrate direct quotes into your prose and make sure you identify the speaker or
source. Direct quotes do not stand on their own and should be introduced with lead
4. Stick to the past tense when writing about events that happened in the past.
5. Whenever possible, use active verbs and avoid any phrases which use forms of the verb
“to be.” In your draft circle all forms of this verb (am, is, was, were, will be, etc.) and try
to replace them with active verbs.
6. This is formal writing. Avoid phrases like “I think” or “I believe”—just make your
argument. Also, do not use contractions (wasn’t, didn’t, couldn’t, it’s, etc.), slang, or
7. Book, newspaper, and periodical titles should be underlined or in italics. Be consistent
with whichever you choose.
8. Spelling errors, grammar and punctuation do count against you. You must proofread
carefully. A spell check is not enough. As you proofread, check for all the errors listed
above but also check for awkward sentences. Read it out loud. If it sounds funny, then it
probably needs to be fixed.
What is plagiarism?1
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means
1) to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
2) to use (another's production) without crediting the source
3) to commit literary theft
to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's
work and lying about it afterward.
But can words and ideas really be stolen?
According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is
considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original
inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as
they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).
All of the following are considered plagiarism:
turning in someone else's work as your own
copying words or ideas from someone else
without giving credit Changing the words of an
failing to put a quotation in quotation marks original source is not
sufficient to prevent
giving incorrect information about the source plagiarism. If you have
of a quotation retained the essential
changing words but copying the sentence idea of an original source,
structure of a source without giving credit and have not cited it,
There are numerous sources available on the internet explaining plagiarism and how to avoid it. This is from
then no matter how
drastically you may have
copying so many words or ideas from a altered its context or
source that it makes up the majority of your presentation, you have
work, whether you give credit or not (see
our section on "fair use" rules)
Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply
acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and providing your audience
with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent
When do I need to cite?
Whenever you borrow words or ideas, you need to acknowledge their source. The
following situations almost always require citation:
Whenever you use quotes
Whenever you paraphrase
Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed
Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another
Whenever someone else's work has been critical in developing your own ideas.