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Senior Thesis help I’m a history major and I can not come up with a good senior...

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kateew | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted March 19, 2011 at 10:18 PM via web

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Senior Thesis help


I’m a history major and I can not come up with a good senior thesis topic. I’m trying to come up with an original topic and I’m not afraid of doing a lot of research. I would like to find an interesting and unique angle regarding an aspect of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War or World War II. Any thoughts or ideas would be very helpful. Thank you.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 20, 2011 at 6:07 AM (Answer #2)

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First of all, what kind of history interests you?  Are you looking to do something in military history (because you're asking about wars) or are you more interested in the non-military aspects of those wars?

Looking at the military side of things, you might look at the ways in which inter-service rivalries (or interpersonal rivalries) affected WWII.  I've heard, for example, that MacArthur and George Marshall (Army Chief of Staff) hated each other.  I've heard that MacArthur didn't want the OSS operating in "his" theater of the war.  I've heard that the Army and Navy tended to disagree on war plans, each wanting to have the greater role.  If any of that interests you, you could look into it further.

If you're looking at other aspects, you might look at the changes in people's lives as a result of the war.  For example, I would be interested in knowing how the standards of living during the war compared with those before.  I know that the war ended the Depression, and I know that the war brought on rationing.  Which of these had more of an impact -- did things get better for the average person (civilian) or worse?  I'm also interested in all of the austerity programs and such.  How much material was saved by the various rationing programs and "drives" for scrap metal and fats and things like that?  Did those things make a real impact or were they more for morale purposes?

You've probably already tried this, but why not look through things like Journal of American History and see what others have written.  See if any of that gives you an idea for a "spin off" from someone else's research.

Good luck...

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 20, 2011 at 8:19 AM (Answer #3)

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I, too, have a great interest in the military side of the American Revolution and the Civil War. I won a national award for a project when I was in high school concerning the contribution of the French during the Revolutionary War. I am also interested in all things relating to the Confederacy. Not knowing your own focus of interest doesn't help me as far as suggestions go, but you may want to narrow your focus to a specific state (or colony); or perhaps guerilla activities; or African-American or women's roles; or perhaps some fairly obscure character for research. Good luck and I hope the eNotes posts will spur some fresh ideas.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM (Answer #4)

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One aspect of war that has always proved intriguing is the psychological.  For instance, Napoleon far outnumbered Wellington, but Wellington vowed that he would not return to England if he did not win at Waterloo.  Granted, the wet weather which deterred the cannonballs from exploding for the French helped, but the British tenacity was clearly a factor.  Likewise, Tolstoy writes of the Russian general, who puportedly was not of the brillance of Napoleon, yet he exerted such a force upon the troops of Russia that somehow they won the war against France.

In World War II, there were many critics of General Eisenhower's plan to storm the beaches of Normandy.  Yet, Dwight David Eisenhower, Commander in Chief of all Allied Forces, prevailed in a plan that met with much negativity, not to mention bad weather.  So what made it work?  Was it like the psychological forces exerted by Wellington and the Russian general?  Certainly, in sports the psychological attitudes often determine the winners rather than the statistics.... 

(If you are familiar with War and Peace, Tolstoy examines this cosmic force/psychological force--whatever it is--that affects wars in the last part of his book.)

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kateew | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted March 20, 2011 at 6:40 PM (Answer #5)

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Thank you for all your posts. I guess I was a little overwhelmed trying to pick one topic or focus point but I have been looking at some of my old history textbooks and a couple ideas came to mind. I will probably discuss them with my thesis advisor this week. I’m not entirely sure where these ideas would take me but if anyone has any suggestions about resources I would love to hear them.

The effects of the Industrial Revolution on the social stratification of American society

wage slavery and the Gilded age
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 20, 2011 at 8:50 PM (Answer #6)

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Two topics of the Civil War have always intrigued me, and since the topic is exhaustively done already it is sometimes hard to find a novel topic to write a thesis on.

So, for your consideration:

1)  The Kingdom of Jones - Jones County Mississippi, which stayed loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War, and some of its more fervent residents even fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Confederacy.

2)  Civil War Medicine - Compiling the primary source data and personal accounts of medical practice and the soldiers' experience in hospitals North and South.  You could also focus completely on Dorothea Dix ("Dragon Dix") as she reformed sanitation and lowered death rates throughout the Union hospital system.

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kateew | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted March 21, 2011 at 5:45 AM (Answer #7)

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Two topics of the Civil War have always intrigued me, and since the topic is exhaustively done already it is sometimes hard to find a novel topic to write a thesis on.

So, for your consideration:

1)  The Kingdom of Jones - Jones County Mississippi, which stayed loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War, and some of its more fervent residents even fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Confederacy.

2)  Civil War Medicine - Compiling the primary source data and personal accounts of medical practice and the soldiers' experience in hospitals North and South.  You could also focus completely on Dorothea Dix ("Dragon Dix") as she reformed sanitation and lowered death rates throughout the Union hospital system.

Speaking of Jones County have you read the Legend of the Free State of Jones by Rudy H. Leveret. It is very interesting. The topic still seems to stir up lively debates so it very well may be a good topic for further study.

 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 21, 2011 at 7:52 AM (Answer #8)

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I'm guessing by "wage slavery" you mean the indentured servants whose passage from Europe was paid by individuals for whom those servants worked a set number of years in order to pay for their way over?  My own family has several accounts of indentured servitude.  Many of these arrangements worked out for the good, but some of these individuals were grossly taken advantage of and were not released according to contract.  This might make a very interesting senior thesis.

I also like your idea of the effects of the Industrial Revolution in America.  If you focus on the changes in the south, it will be even more intriguing.  The north has always been the focal point of industry since the weather did not cooperate for them to be agricultural year around. 

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kateew | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted March 21, 2011 at 8:28 AM (Answer #9)

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I'm guessing by "wage slavery" you mean the indentured servants whose passage from Europe was paid by individuals for whom those servants worked a set number of years in order to pay for their way over?  My own family has several accounts of indentured servitude.  Many of these arrangements worked out for the good, but some of these individuals were grossly taken advantage of and were not released according to contract.  This might make a very interesting senior thesis.

I also like your idea of the effects of the Industrial Revolution in America.  If you focus on the changes in the south, it will be even more intriguing.  The north has always been the focal point of industry since the weather did not cooperate for them to be agricultural year around. 

By wage slavery I mean that I wish to investigate industrialization and exploitation through the progression of the wage system especially during the 19th century industrialism.

I would be interested in how the growing industrialism of the 19th century that swallowed up both independent worker (those who may have earned a living either through agriculture or as craftsman) and immigrants. During the middle of the 19th century there was reduction of the number of farmers, skilled workers, and those in professional occupations especially amongst immigrant populations. Some have argued that this led to a system which was run by a small number of capitalist who simply exploited workers because the workers had no other choice; they had to work long hours in hazardous factory jobs in order to feed themselves. In some ways people became tied to factory jobs without the realistic ability to leave the job for greener pastures.  Some say this development during the 18th and 19th century took away the lower class workers’ rights to work as they wished and how they wished for their own gain. This system was certainly much crueler during the early part of the industrial revolution and as it progressed workers’ rights movements eventually forced changes. This isn’t my position per say but it is a topic I would enjoy researching. My only fear is that it was been studied and written about extensively.

 

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 21, 2011 at 7:01 PM (Answer #10)

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Two topics of the Civil War have always intrigued me, and since the topic is exhaustively done already it is sometimes hard to find a novel topic to write a thesis on.

So, for your consideration:

1)  The Kingdom of Jones - Jones County Mississippi, which stayed loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War, and some of its more fervent residents even fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Confederacy.

2)  Civil War Medicine - Compiling the primary source data and personal accounts of medical practice and the soldiers' experience in hospitals North and South.  You could also focus completely on Dorothea Dix ("Dragon Dix") as she reformed sanitation and lowered death rates throughout the Union hospital system.

Speaking of Jones County have you read the Legend of the Free State of Jones by Rudy H. Leveret. It is very interesting. The topic still seems to stir up lively debates so it very well may be a good topic for further study.

 

I haven't read that one.  I recently read The State of Jones by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer.  Drags on a bit in places, but pretty exhaustively researched.

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kateew | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted March 21, 2011 at 8:06 PM (Answer #11)

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Two topics of the Civil War have always intrigued me, and since the topic is exhaustively done already it is sometimes hard to find a novel topic to write a thesis on.

So, for your consideration:

1)  The Kingdom of Jones - Jones County Mississippi, which stayed loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War, and some of its more fervent residents even fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Confederacy.

2)  Civil War Medicine - Compiling the primary source data and personal accounts of medical practice and the soldiers' experience in hospitals North and South.  You could also focus completely on Dorothea Dix ("Dragon Dix") as she reformed sanitation and lowered death rates throughout the Union hospital system.

Speaking of Jones County have you read the Legend of the Free State of Jones by Rudy H. Leveret. It is very interesting. The topic still seems to stir up lively debates so it very well may be a good topic for further study.

 

I haven't read that one.  I recently read The State of Jones by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer.  Drags on a bit in places, but pretty exhaustively researched.

Very interesting. I haven’t read that book yet but it appears that it at least partially intended to refute Leveret’s book. It appears to be quite a lively and interesting debate that would be a lot of fun to study. I will probably read more about it just out of curiosity but I’m not entirely sure how I could take this thesis wise. I’m really glad you mentioned the subject but I hadn’t really heard of it, I am intrigued and eager to learn more.

 

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equeenan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM (Answer #12)

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Senior Thesis help
I’m a history major and I can not come up with a good senior thesis topic. I’m trying to come up with an original topic and I’m not afraid of doing a lot of research. I would like to find an interesting and unique angle regarding an aspect of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War or World War II. Any thoughts or ideas would be very helpful. Thank you.

If you want a fun one you could write on the work of female spies in the Civil War. There is a lot of information out there and some really amazing an innovative women. If you are interested in the topic then I can forward you some great resources.

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amirhossein | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 6, 2011 at 12:59 AM (Answer #13)

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I have a good suggestion for you!

Comparison of women's roles in socaietal changes before,during and after wwII.

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