Research paper: Ken Burns’ The Civil War and American history

Twenty five years after its debut, a digitally restored “The Civil War” returns to PBS in September 2015. This award-winning documentary will be shown over five consecutive nights, giving viewers a unique experience of the most pivotal event in American history. Burns used Civil War photos and readings from letters and diaries written by those who lived it to bring Civil War history alive.

Discuss the Civil War in your next research paper. (Credit: FOX News)

Discuss the Civil War in your next research paper. (Credit: FOX News)

Coming as it does at the end of a summer that has seen racial tension and controversy over the Confederate flag, this film series may inspire your next research paper. Read more

Research topic: 150th anniversary of Juneteenth day in Civil War history

June 19, 1865, is considered one of the most significant U.S. Civil War dates. It’s the day the last of the slaves in the country were freed. Called Juneteenth day, the date is still celebrated, and 2015 marks its 150th anniversary.

Discuss Juneteenth in your next research paper. (Credit: TRGGR Radio)

Discuss Juneteenth in your next research paper. (Credit: TRGGR Radio)

For good research paper topics for your Civil War history, American history or African American culture class, consider writing about the historical significance of Juneteenth and its many ways to celebrate.

History of Juneteenth

The history of Juneteenth makes a good term paper. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves were free as of January 1, 1863. But as the Civil War raged on, it took two more years for the news to spread. The last slaves to become free in the United States were in Texas, a region further west of the states that experienced the bulk of the war. Texas still had 250,000 slaves. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, accompanied by thousands of federal soldiers to enforce the new law, arrived in the city of Galveston, Texas where he read General Order No. 3, which declared: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

“Juneteenth” is a combination of the month and date, it’s also known as Independence Day or Emancipation Day. The first official Juneteenth celebration was in Austin, Texas in 1867. Texas later declared the date a state holiday, and the day is now officially observed in 43 states.

Commemorate the meaning of Juneteenth

Another idea for a term paper is to discuss various ways of commemorating the significance of Juneteenth. For example, Texan Sam Collins, chairman of the Texas Historical Commission State Board of Review and member of the board of advisers for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is also a descendent of slaves from Galveston. In 2005 Collins purchased Stringfellow Orchards, a plantation where his ancestors were slaves. He preserved the property and its historical significance. “We must never forget what Juneteenth meant to the former enslaved people,” he said in “Juneteenth: 150 Years Ago, Black America Got Its Own Independence Day,” by Laura Saunders Egodigwe, posted June 19, 2015, on

Collins added: “Some people still suffer today in various forms of bondage; Juneteenth is a celebration that may give those people hope that they, too, may one day be free.”

Juneteenth Is for Everyone

Kenneth C. Davis, a prominent American historian, wrote an opinion piece in New York Times saying that we should not think of Juneteenth as an “African American” holiday. “That perception unfairly diminishes the fundamental significance of Juneteenth,” said Davis in  “Juneteenth Is for Everyone,” posted on June 19, 2015. “The day should be recognized for what it is: a shared point of pride in the symbolic end of centuries of racial slavery — a crime against humanity and the great stain on America’s soul. As meaningful as Independence Day itself, Juneteenth completes the circle, reaffirming ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as the rights of all, not a select few.”

Books about Juneteenth

Many books have been written about Juneteenth. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom, written by Angela Johnson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis, shows the events of that important day through the eyes of a little African American girl. The book was reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler in “Black History Month Brings Forth Good Books,” posted in Topeka Capital-Journal February 2, 2015. Dobler said, “Beautiful watercolor illustrations depict the day, under the hot Texas sun, that a little girl and the other slaves on the cotton plantation learned of their freedom. Singing, prayer and joyful shouts could be seen and heard in the fields and around the campfire into the night. The next day everyone awoke to a time that would be all different now.” The book includes a list of historical dates, a time line of Juneteenth celebrations, glossary and resources for further research.

For more information, check out Questia’s library on African American History. 

What are some other significant events of Juneteenth? Share with us in the comments.

John Fiske is a good research paper topic for philosophy and American history

The American historian, philosopher, and writer, John Fiske, was born on March 30, 1842, in Hanford, Conn., U.S. and died July 4, 1901, in East Gloucester, Mass. His original name was Edmund Fisk Green.

Consider discussing John Fiske for your next research paper. (Credit: QuotesDump)

Consider discussing John Fiske for your next research paper. (Credit: QuotesDump)

He made European evolutionary theory popular in the United States and wrote on a variety of subjects, such as mythology, history, and evolution. Read more

2014 Oscar nominees: History themed topics of slavery and scandal in American films

"12 Years a Slave" is based on real life events of slavery in America.

“12 Years a Slave” is based on real life events of slavery in America.

If you’re interested in American history and in movies, then you’ll love this year’s Oscar nominees. The list of nominees for best picture includes films based on a true story of slavery in America, a political scandal from the 1970s, the hijacking of an American vessel by Somali pirates and the downfall of a corrupt Wall Street stockbroker. Here’s a look at three of the stories to be found in the 2014 nominees for best picture.

12 Years a Slave

“12 Years a Slave,” based on the book of the same name, is the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who in 1841 was abducted and sold into slavery.

The text is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its electronic version is available for reading online. The book is the narrative of Solomon Northup’s experiences as a slave in pre-Civil War America. Read more

American history: World War 2 military history research paper topics

U.S. Navy sailors rescue survivors from the USS West Virginia during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

U.S. Navy sailors rescue survivors from the USS West Virginia during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

December is not only known for its holidays; it has a special place in American history. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. was drawn into World War 2. If you’re looking for research paper topics for a paper on military history, you might want to explore America’s war in the Pacific.

World War 2 in the Pacific

It all began on December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. A swarm of Japanese dive bombers descended on the island of Oahu and completed a surprise attack on the military base of Pearl Harbor. Read more

Top fashion designers in American history: Ideas for your fashion design paper

Throughout the years, the frequent changes of the fashion industry are what have made it so successful. (Courtesy of Stephoccitan)

Throughout the years, the frequent changes of the fashion industry are what have made it so successful. (Courtesy of Stephoccitan)

When you think about American history, the topics of fashion design and merchandising may not be top of your mind. Yet, top fashion designers have played an important part in building our unique American culture. If your assignment is to write a research paper on fashion design, then be sure to take the time to explore all the possible approaches that such a paper could take. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Ideas for your research paper

Clothing began as a necessity — a protection against a harsh environment and the elements. But humans also have a need for self-expression and for decoration. Read more

The American Civil War: Free resources for top research topics on Civil War facts

The American Civil WarFrom 1861 to 1865, the United States fought a war over the right of secession, as eleven states wanted to separate from the Union. The causes for the war, and the reasons for its outcome, remain topic for debate over a hundred years later. And Americans continue to celebrate a holiday that was originally designed to honor the approximately 620,000 soldiers who died during the action: Memorial Day, which was founded in 1868. In honor of Memorial Day, we at Questia are offering five free resources for top research topics on Civil War facts. You can also find even more resources on Civil War topics, including specific battles like the Battle of Gettysburg or topics like African-American Soldiers in the Civil War, in our Civil War library. Read more