Most history is written from the viewpoint of the victors not the vanquished and it usually focuses on major political and economic events.  However in this unit we want to focus on society and the common man or woman, a story that is inclusive and representative and that tells the story of one person or a group of people.  Most important is to focus on a unique group of people that have one thing in common and that you have no relation to:

  • US soldiers suffering from PTSD that served in Afghanistan
  • Trawling fishermen in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Rohingya refugees in Thailand
  • Carvers of wooden Buddhas from Japan
  • Rockabilly bands in Yoyogi Park
  • Any group of people you are interested in

You will find some stories that have been written about in newspapers, magazines, on personal blogs, but where can you go looking for more personal and primary sources?  Is there someone you could conduct an interview with or is there one that has already been conducted with someone in that group? Do some of these people keep an online journal or blog? For example you could start with the wanting to know more about child refugees, then narrow it down to a subgroup such as Syrian child refugees.  But through your research you discover that is too broad so you focus on one specific area In Turkey with many young Syrian refugees.

Now you need to come up with the three themes that you are going to talk about. They might be the lack of education, inadequate food, and the desire to go elsewhere. You will need at least 4 legitimate sources and one must be an interview that has been conducted with a member of the group, or an expert in the field.

It would be great if as source could be an interview you conduct.  You could contact an expert in the field and conduct an interview with them by e-mail.

Remember that social history delves into personal lives so we must be conscious as researchers that we are handling very sensitive information and looking at it through their lens of history.

Assessment: In-class essay

You will write a social history essay on one specific person or one group of people, looking for their voice and point of view to come through in your writing along with their story.  

Part 1: 1 page, typed outline

  • Your research question will be your title
  • An introduction with a clear thesis statement that covers the 3 themes that you are going to focus on
  • 3 body paragraphs with topic sentences, main argument, supporting arguments, facts and stats
  • A conclusion where you synthesize your answer
  • Your bibliography should have at least four valid sources including one interview, using MLA Works Cited  citation
  • At least 2 of the source should have a short OPPVL (1 or 2 sentences per point)

Show initiative and explore as many different avenues as possible in looking for information.  You are trying to give an honest portrayal of this group of people to a larger audience. Think about what you want them to know about this group when they finish reading your piece. This message should be evident in your outline. 

Part 2: In-class essay

  • You will only be allowed to bring your outline, water and writing material
  • You will have 60 minutes to write a 5 paragraph essay
  • With proper in-text citations
  • Your narrative should be between 500-600 words.  

 

Creating a good research question:

Research Rundowns