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HIS 4990 Senior Seminar in History

This guide will assist you with HIS 4990 Research Paper. Updated Fall 2020

Why Outline?

Besides being a requirement for the course, outlining helps you to plan your paper before you begin writing. Experienced writers will tell you that time invested in planning your draft pays off when you go to write it.

Chicago style does not stipulate a specific format for outlines (for example, I, A, i, a). Check with your instructor for specific requirements in creating your outline.


Argument/ Thesis and Introduction - While the introduction is at the beginning of your paper, often you write the introduction after you complete the paper.

Outline - Begin your outline with the main points you wish to present in your paper.


Sample thesis: Although the New Deal did not end the Depression, it was a success in restoring public confidence and creating new programs that brought relief to millions of Americans.

I. Background
     A. Problems of the Depression that the New Deal tried to solve
          1. Sense of despair
          2. Collapse of financial system
          3. High unemployment
          4. Shrinking economy

II. Supporting Evidence
     A. Restored Public Confidence
          1. Sense of Roosevelt's personal concern for people (quotation from woman on FDR's first radio address)
          2. Flurry of government activity in "Hundred Days"
     B. Improved America's Financial Health
          1. Bank Holiday
          2. Created government agencies such as FDIC to protect people's savings
     C. Reduced Unemployment
          1. CCC put people to work at productive tasks such as building park facilities (quotation from CCC worker)
          2. WPA put people to work and performed needed construction tasks (number of people employed through WPA)
     D. Created Social Security
          1. Provided immediate benefits to the elderly (amount of assistance provided in first five years)
          2. Has become a cornerstone of financial security for senior citizens

III. Contrary Evidence
     A. Did Not End the Depression
          1. World War II did, but New Deal reduced the Depression's worst effects
          2. Some New Deal Programs such as Agricultural Adjustment Act were declared unconstitutional, but at least Roosevelt was trying to find solutions

IV. Conclusion


William & Mary. 2015. "Writing a History Paper: The Basics." William & Mary. Accessed July 14, 2015.

Outlining "Don'ts"

When outlining:

Don't get bogged down in the details. Keep your outline simple.

Don't organize your paper as a narrative (First this happened, Then this happened, Finally, I conclude). Build your paper around your argument or claim!

Don't overuse quotations.