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10 Great American History Research Paper Topic Ideas for University Students

American history research papers require a unique type of writing. Unlike English papers, these ones require an intense focus on sources and the quality of primary documents. To get the best grade, students must cite primary and secondary sources. Students who are unfamiliar with this style of writing may have a difficult time finding a topic to write about. For these students, the following ideas are designed to get thoughts flowing. Use the exact topic listed below or brainstorm an entirely new idea.

  1. The War on Drugs
  2. Former President Ronald Reagan was the first person to focus on the War on Drugs. During his presidency, he set aside $1.7 billion to fight the crack cocaine epidemic. Has the United States made any progress on this front?

  3. The Atomic Bomb
  4. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have loomed large in world history. To date, the United States is the only country to use nuclear weapons on another nation. Was this bombing justified or just a way of testing weapons out?

  5. The Vietnam War and 9/11
  6. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq has been unpopular, much like the war in Vietnam. How have these wars differed in their public response? Are high school seniors more likely to sign up to fight in Iraq?

  7. The American Depression
  8. The Great Depression spanned nearly two decades. Were problems in the United States economy disguised by the supposed prosperity of the 1920s?

  9. The Bill of Rights
  10. What caused the Founding Fathers to create the Bill of Rights? What made this document necessary?

  11. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  12. Following the Great Depression, President Roosevelt created the New Deal to boost the economy. Were these domestic programs an effective way to boost the economy?

  13. Prohibition
  14. American prohibition was a unique experience in world history. From 1920 to 1933, Americans were unable to drink alcohol according to the law. Did the Prohibition actually stop people from drinking?

  15. The Civil War
  16. From 1861 to 1865, the North and South fought a war over slavery and states' rights. With the wide variation between the economic systems of the North and South, was this type of war an inevitable outcome?

  17. Hurricane Katrina
  18. How did Hurricane Katrina encourage the funding of FEMA? Why did the United States government not fund further flood plains and dykes before this major hurricane?

  19. Civil Rights
  20. From the 1950s to the 1960s, African-Americans and other activists fought for the end of segregation. How does this compare to current "stand your ground" laws and affirmative action?

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