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The 1960s History

By: History.com Editors

Updated: June 26, 2020 | Original: May 25, 2010

Civil Rights Marchers with "I Am A Man" SignsCivil Rights activists are blocked by National Guardsmen brandishing bayonets while trying to stage a protest on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. The marching demonstrators, who are wearing signs which say "I Am A Man," are also flanked by tanks.

The 1960s started off as the dawn of a golden age to most Americans. On January 20, 1961, the handsome and charismatic John F. Kennedy became president of the United States. His confidence that, as one historian put it, “the government possessed big answers to big problems” seemed to set the tone for the rest of the decade. However, that golden age never materialized. On the contrary, by the end of the 1960s, it seemed that the nation was falling apart. Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” splintered as the Democratic Party split and America became increasingly enmeshed in the Vietnam War.

The Great Society

During his presidential campaign in 1960, John F. Kennedy had promised the most ambitious domestic agenda since the New Deal : the “New Frontier,” a package of laws and reforms that sought to eliminate injustice and inequality in the United States. But the New Frontier ran into problems right away: The Democrats’ Congressional majority depended on a group of Southerners who loathed the plan’s interventionist liberalism and did all they could to block it. The Cuban Missile Crisis and failed Bay of Pigs invasion was another disaster for Kennedy.

Did you know? On June 27, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The bar’s patrons, sick of being subjected to harassment and discrimination, fought back: For five days, rioters took to the streets in protest. “The word is out,” one protester said. “[We] have had it with oppression.” Historians believe that this “Stonewall Rebellion” marked the beginning of the gay rights movement.

It was not until 1964, after Kennedy was shot, that President Lyndon B. Johnson could muster the political capital to enact his own expansive program of reforms. That year, Johnson declared that he would make the United States into a “ Great Society ” in which poverty and racial injustice had no place. He developed a set of programs that would give poor people “a hand up, not a handout.” These included Medicare and Medicaid, which helped elderly and low-income people pay for health care; Head Start, which prepared young children for school and a Job Corps that trained unskilled workers for jobs in the deindustrializing economy. Meanwhile, Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity encouraged disadvantaged people to participate in the design and implementation of the government’s programs on their behalf, while his Model Cities program offered federal subsidies for urban redevelopment and community projects.

research paper topics for 1960s

The War in Vietnam

Unfortunately, the War on Poverty was expensive–too expensive, especially as the war in Vietnam became the government’s top priority. There was simply not enough money to pay for the War on Poverty and the Vietnam War. Conflict in Southeast Asia had been going on since the 1950s, and President Johnson had inherited a substantial American commitment to anti-communist South Vietnam. Soon after he took office, he escalated that commitment into a full-scale war. In 1964, Congress authorized the president to take “all necessary measures” to protect American soldiers and their allies from the communist Viet Cong. Within days, the draft began.

READ MORE:  Who Was Involved in the Vietnam War? 

The war dragged on, and it divided the nation. Some young people took to the streets in protest, while others fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Meanwhile, many of their parents and peers formed a “silent majority” in support of the war.

The Fight for Civil Rights

The struggle for civil rights had defined the ‘60s ever since four black students sat down at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina , in February 1960 and refused to leave. Their movement spread: Hundreds of demonstrators went back to that lunch counter every day, and tens of thousands clogged segregated restaurants and shops across the upper South. The protesters drew the nation’s attention to the injustice, brutality and capriciousness that characterized Jim Crow.

In general, the federal government stayed out of the civil rights struggle until 1964, when President Johnson pushed a Civil Rights Act through Congress that prohibited discrimination in public places, gave the Justice Department permission to sue states that discriminated against women and minorities and promised equal opportunities in the workplace to all. The next year, the Voting Rights Act eliminated poll taxes, literacy requirements and other tools that southern whites had traditionally used to keep blacks from voting.

But these laws did not solve the problems facing African Americans: They did not eliminate racism or poverty and they did not improve the conditions in many black urban neighborhoods. Many black leaders began to rethink their goals, and some embraced a more militant ideology of separatism and self-defense.

READ MORE:  Civil Rights Movement: Timeline, Key Events

The Radical ’60s

Just as black power became the new focus of the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, other groups were growing similarly impatient with incremental reforms. Student activists grew more radical. They took over college campuses, organized massive antiwar demonstrations and occupied parks and other public places. Some even made bombs and set campus buildings on fire. At the same time, young women who had read The Feminine Mystique celebrated the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act and joined the moderate National Organization for Women were also increasingly annoyed with the slow progress of reform. They too became more militant.

The counterculture also seemed to grow more outlandish as the decade wore on. Some young people “dropped out” of political life altogether. These “ hippies ” grew their hair long and practiced “free love.” Some moved to communes, away from the turbulence that had come to define everyday life in the 1960s.

research paper topics for 1960s

The Death of the 1960s

The optimistic ‘60s went sour in 1968. That year, the brutal North Vietnamese Tet Offensive convinced many people that the Vietnam War would be impossible to win. The Democratic Party split, and at the end of March, Johnson went on television to announce that he was ending his reelection campaign. (Richard Nixon, chief spokesman for the silent majority, won the election that fall.) Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the two most visible leftists in American politics, were assassinated . Police used tear gas and billy clubs to break up protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago . Furious antiwar protestors took over Columbia University in New York as well as the Sorbonne in Paris and the Free University in Berlin. And the urban riots that had erupted across the country every summer since 1964 continued and intensified.

Shreds of the hopeful ‘60s remained. In the summer of 1969, more than 400,000 young people trooped to the Woodstock music festival in upstate New York, a harmonious three days that seemed to represent the best of the peace-and-love generation. 

READ MORE: Woodstock, the Legendary 1969 Festival, Was Also a Miserable Mud Pit

By the end of the decade, however, community and consensus lay in tatters. The era’s legacy remains mixed–it brought us empowerment and polarization, resentment and liberation–but it has certainly become a permanent part of our political and cultural lives.


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1960s Research Project: Home

The 1960's "a closer look" choice board research project.

Directions:  Choose one of the 1960's topics listed below for your research topic. Use the links provided for that topic to start your research. Then, use the choice board linked here to complete your research project.

1960's Civil Rights

  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Civil Rights Movement Timeline
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • March on Washington
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Civil Rights (Video)

1960's NASA-Space Exploration

  • Space Program
  • Sputnik's Impact on America
  • The Space Race (1955-1975) (Video)

1960's Fashion

  • Fashion History: 1960s
  • 1960-1969 Fashion
  • History Brief: 1960s Daily Life and Pop Culture (Video) (Start Time: 10:18)

1960's Pop Culture

  • Pop Culture
  • The Sixties Moments in Time Timeline
  • History Brief:1960s Daily Life and Pop Culture (Video)
  • The 1960s in Color - Life in America (Video)

1960's Music

  • Elvis Presley
  • History Brief: 1960s Daily Life and Pop Culture (Video) (Start Time: 8:49)

1960's World Events

  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • The History of the Cuban Missile Crisis (Video)
  • John F Kennedy Assassination
  • Vietnam War

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Articles on The 1960s

Displaying all articles.

research paper topics for 1960s

How alternative communities have evolved – from pacifist communes to a solution to the ageing population

Kirsten Stevens-Wood , Cardiff Metropolitan University

research paper topics for 1960s

Good profits from bad news: How the Kennedy assassination helped make network TV news wealthy

Michael J. Socolow , University of Maine

research paper topics for 1960s

Black students in Washington state played key role in the Civil Rights Movement, new book states

Marc Arsell Robinson , California State University, San Bernardino

research paper topics for 1960s

Minneapolis’ ‘long, hot summer’ of ‘67 – and the parallels to today’s protests over police brutality

Rashad Shabazz , Arizona State University

research paper topics for 1960s

The soundtrack of the Sixties demanded respect, justice and equality

Michael V. Drake , The Ohio State University

research paper topics for 1960s

Red-state politics in and out of the college classroom

Natasha Zaretsky , Southern Illinois University

research paper topics for 1960s

How Canadian boomers got into pot

Catherine Carstairs , University of Guelph

research paper topics for 1960s

Magical Mystery Tour: a rare Beatles flop – but it paved the way for Monty Python

Adam Behr , Newcastle University

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Navigating US History: A Student’s Guide to Research Paper Topics


As a student of history, you’re on a constant journey through time. Writing a research paper is more than just an assignment—it’s an opportunity to delve deeper into the events and periods that shaped the world we live in today. Whether you’re just beginning your journey or looking for fresh perspectives on well-trodden paths, this guide will provide a comprehensive list of US history research paper topics.

Table of content

The Importance of History Learning

Studying history provides a deeper understanding of societies, cultures, and the human condition. History shapes our collective memory, instilling a sense of identity and understanding of our place in the world. Exploring different eras helps us comprehend the consequences of certain actions, understand patterns, and better anticipate the future. Writing research papers on US history equips us with an analytical lens to critically assess the past, promoting empathy and encouraging informed citizenship.

The Art of Research Writing

Research writing requires a careful synthesis of existing knowledge with original thought. As a historical researcher, you act as a detective, deciphering mysteries, drawing connections, and unveiling the truths hidden in the annals of time. Your research paper is an exploration of your chosen topic and a demonstration of your analytical skills, critical thinking, and the ability to articulate complex ideas coherently.

Crafting your Research Paper Topic

Selecting an engaging and manageable topic is crucial in the research process. Your topic should be both broad enough to offer plenty of study sources and narrow enough to allow in-depth exploration. Below is a list of possible US history research paper topics.

Colonial Period

The Colonial Period, from the late 15th Century to the late 18th Century, marked the beginning of European settlement in what is now the United States. This era saw significant events such as the arrival of the Pilgrims, the establishment of the thirteen colonies, and the interactions between the settlers and the Native American tribes. This period set the stage for America’s diverse cultural, political, and social foundation.

Research Paper Topics for the Colonial Period

  • Role of the Church in Colonial Society.
  • Jamestown: Successes and Failures.
  • Impact of Tobacco Cultivation on Colonial Economy.
  • Life of Indigenous Tribes Pre-Colonization.
  • The Salem Witch Trials: Causes and Consequences.
  • The Role of Women in Colonial America.
  • Early Forms of Democracy: The Mayflower Compact.
  • Slavery in the Early Colonies.
  • The Transatlantic Trade: Its Impact on the Colonies.
  • Comparison of Northern and Southern Colonies.
  • Analysis of Colonial Laws and Their Impact on Society.
  • Evolution of Education in Colonial America.
  • The Great Awakening and Its Impact on American Society.
  • Indentured Servitude vs. Slavery: A Comparative Study.
  • Navigation Acts and Their Influence on the Colonies.
  • Impact of European Diseases on Native American Population.
  • The Role of the Dutch in New Amsterdam (New York).
  • The French and Indian War: Causes and Consequences.
  • The Influence of the Enlightenment in the Colonies.
  • Colonial Architecture: A Reflection of Cultural Identity.
  • The Pennsylvania Colony: A Quaker Experiment.
  • Cultural Exchange between Colonists and Native Americans.
  • The Evolution of Colonial Economies: From Mercantilism to Capitalism.

Revolutionary Era

The Revolutionary Era, roughly from the 1760s to the 1780s, marked a period of political upheaval and radical change. It included events such as the American Revolution and the drafting of the US Constitution. This period represents America’s struggle for independence and the nation’s birth.

Research Paper Topics for the Revolutionary Era

  • The Impact of the Stamp Act on the Colonies.
  • The Boston Massacre: An Analysis.
  • Role of Women in the American Revolution.
  • The Philosophical Underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Continental Congress: Achievements and Challenges.
  • The Role of Propaganda in the American Revolution.
  • Significance of the Battle of Saratoga.
  • Comparative Analysis of the American and Haitian Revolutions.
  • The Treaty of Paris (1783): Implications for America.
  • Founding Fathers: Contributions and Controversies.
  • The Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist Debate.
  • The Role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War.
  • The Impact of the Revolutionary War on Native Americans.
  • Influence of the Enlightenment on the US Constitution.
  • George Washington was a Military Leader.
  • The Articles of Confederation: Strengths and Weaknesses.
  • The Legacy of Thomas Jefferson.
  • The Formation and Influence of the Sons of Liberty.
  • Impact of the American Revolution on French Political Thought.
  • The Bill of Rights: A Study in Civil Liberties.
  • The Northwest Ordinance and Its Impact on American Expansion.
  • Impact of the Revolutionary Era on American Literature.
  • Loyalists during the American Revolution: Their Experiences and Contributions.

Nineteenth Century

The 19th Century was a time of dramatic transformation in America. From the expansion westward to the abolition of slavery and from the Industrial Revolution to the Civil War, these changes forged a new nation. It was an era defined by innovation, conflict, and expansion.

  • The Impact of the Cotton Gin on the Southern Economy.
  • The Missouri Compromise: An Analysis.
  • The Role of Women in the 19th Century.
  • Manifest Destiny and Its Impact on American Identity.
  • The Abolitionist Movement: Key Figures and Contributions.
  • The Mexican-American War: Causes and Consequences.
  • The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on American Society.
  • Analysis of the Compromise of 1850.
  • The Fugitive Slave Act and Its Implications.
  • The Influence of Transcendentalism on American Thought.
  • The Homestead Act and Westward Expansion.
  • Causes and Consequences of the Civil War.
  • The Reconstruction Era: Successes and Failures.
  • Role of African Americans in the Civil War.
  • The Trail of Tears: Causes and Implications.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation: Its Impact and Legacy.
  • The Indian Removal Act: An Analysis.
  • The Influence of the Gold Rush on American Society.
  • The Formation of Labor Unions and Workers’ Rights.
  • The Women’s Suffrage Movement: Key Events and Figures.
  • The Dred Scott Decision and Its Impact on American Politics.
  • The Impact of Railroads on Economic and Social Change.
  • The Gilded Age: An Analysis of Social and Economic Disparities.

Twentieth Century

Monumental changes in technology, culture, politics, and social norms marked the 20th Century. The US emerged as a global superpower through its involvement in two World Wars, the Cold War, and numerous other international conflicts. This era also witnessed significant social changes, including the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation, and the Gay Rights Movement.

Research Paper Topics for the Twentieth Century

  • Impact of World War I on American Society.
  • The Harlem Renaissance: A Cultural Revolution.
  • Causes and Consequences of the Great Depression.
  • The Influence of the New Deal on American Government.
  • Role of Women in World War II.
  • The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II.
  • The Rise of Suburbia in Post-War America.
  • The Cold War: An Analysis of US Foreign Policy.
  • The Civil Rights Movement: Key Figures and Milestones.
  • Impact of the Vietnam War on American Culture.
  • The Watergate Scandal and Its Effect on Public Trust.
  • The Feminist Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Space Race and Its Influence on Technology.
  • The Impact of Television on American Society.
  • The Environmental Movement and the Creation of the EPA.
  • The Gay Rights Movement: Key Events and Figures.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis: An Analysis.
  • The Immigration Act of 1965 and Its Impact on American Demographics.
  • The War on Drugs: Causes and Consequences.
  • The AIDS Epidemic and Its Impact on Public Health Policy.
  • The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the End of the Cold War.
  • The Role of the Internet in the Digital Age.

Final Thoughts

History research can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Remember, the best papers reflect your curiosity and passion for the topic. So, pick a topic that resonates with you, immerse yourself in the research, and enjoy the journey through time.

📎 Related Articles

1. Hot Topic History: A Journey Through Pivotal Moments 2. Pioneering Perspectives: Navigating Civil War Topics for Your Research Paper 3. Engaging 8th Grade Research Paper Topics for Budding Historians 4. Unraveling Threads of Time: Early American History Topics for Students 5. The Great Wall: An Essay Topic Examples

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The Impact of Native American Organization after 1960

1 January 1960 – 31 December 1969

The 1960s were one of the most tumultuous decades in world history, so many important events occurred during the decade: the civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of US President John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

The major wars and conflicts of the decade were: The Vietnam War, The Bay of Pigs Invasion, Six-Day War, The Cuban Missile Crisis. The confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union dominated geopolitics during the 1960s.

The decade began with a recession from 1960 to 1961 in America. By the end of the 1950s, war-ravaged Europe finished reconstruction and began a huge economic boom.

The Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union dominated the 60s. Yuri Gagarin was the first man, who was sent into outer space on 12 April 1961. On 20 July 1969, Apollo 11 mission, the first human spaceflight landed on the Moon.

The main movements of the decade include the civil rights movement, the student movement, Hispanic and Chicano movement, the anti-war movement, the women’s movement and the gay rights movement.

Peace signs and flowers were an aesthetic of the decade. In the 1960s occurred an increased use of LSD and Marijuana. The counterculture movement had a significant effect on cinema.

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research paper topics for 1960s

Best History Research Paper Topics

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Dive into the world of historical scholarship with our comprehensive guide to the best history research paper topics . Primarily designed for students tasked with writing history research papers, this guide presents a curated list of 100 exceptional topics, divided into 10 distinct categories, each with a unique historical focus. The guide offers clear and practical advice on how to choose the most compelling history research paper topics, and provides 10 handy tips on crafting an outstanding research paper. In addition to academic guidance, the guide introduces the superior writing services of iResearchNet, a reliable option for students needing customized history research papers.

Comprehensive List of Best History Research Paper Topics

The following comprehensive list of the best history research paper topics is crafted to stimulate your curiosity and ignite your passion for historical study. These topics cover a range of historical periods and geographical locations to cater to the diverse interests of history students.

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Ancient History Topics

  • The Causes and Effects of the Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
  • The Influence of Alexander the Great’s Conquests on the Hellenistic World
  • The Role of Women in Spartan Society
  • The Construction and Significance of the Great Wall of China
  • The Impact of Confucianism on Ancient Chinese Society
  • Trade Routes and their Role in the Expansion of Ancient Civilizations
  • The Cultural and Political Influence of the Phoenician Civilization
  • Comparing Democracy in Ancient Greece to Modern Democracy
  • The Religious Practices and Beliefs of the Mayans

Medieval History Topics

  • The Role of the Catholic Church in Medieval Europe
  • The Impact of the Black Death on Medieval Society
  • The Cultural Significance of the Knights Templar
  • Gender Roles and Family Structure in Medieval Japan
  • The Causes and Consequences of the Hundred Years War
  • The Political Structure of the Byzantine Empire
  • The Influence of the Carolingian Renaissance on Europe
  • The Role of Vikings in European Trade and Exploration
  • The Crusades: Causes, Events, and Consequences
  • The Architecture and Symbolism of Gothic Cathedrals

Early Modern History Topics

  • The Causes and Effects of the Protestant Reformation
  • The Role of the Enlightenment in the French Revolution
  • The Impact of the Scientific Revolution on European Society
  • The Socioeconomic Consequences of the Industrial Revolution
  • The Influence of the Ottoman Empire on Southeast Europe
  • The Role of Slavery in the Colonial Economies
  • The Politics and Culture of the Renaissance in Italy
  • European Imperialism in Africa and Asia
  • The Cultural and Political Impacts of the Mughal Empire
  • The American Revolution: Causes, Events, and Legacy

Modern History Topics

  • The Causes and Global Consequences of World War I
  • The Great Depression: Causes and Effects
  • The Role of Propaganda in World War II
  • The Impact of the Cold War on International Relations
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the United States
  • The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the End of the Cold War
  • The Effects of Decolonization in the 20th Century
  • The Role of Women in the World Wars
  • The Formation and Impact of the European Union
  • The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Spring

Asian History Topics

  • The Cultural Impact of the Silk Road in Asia
  • The Effects of Colonial Rule in India
  • The Legacy of the Mongol Empire in Asia
  • The Cultural and Political Changes in China’s Cultural Revolution
  • The Korean War: Causes, Events, and Consequences
  • The Role of Samurai in Feudal Japan
  • The Impact of the Opium Wars on China
  • The Influence of Buddhism on Asian Cultures
  • The Cambodian Genocide under the Khmer Rouge
  • The Role of Gandhi in India’s Independence

American History Topics

  • The Impact of the New Deal on the American Economy
  • The Vietnam War: Causes, Events, and Legacy
  • The Influence of the Beat Generation on American Culture
  • The Role of Manifest Destiny in Westward Expansion
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis and Its Effects on the Cold War
  • The Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States
  • The Native American Civil Rights Movement
  • The Role of the Transcontinental Railroad in American Expansion
  • The Civil War: Causes, Events, and Aftermath
  • The Immigration Wave at Ellis Island: Causes and Effects

European History Topics

  • The Impacts of the Russian Revolution
  • The Influence of Martin Luther’s Theses on Europe
  • The British Empire: Rise, Dominance, and Fall
  • The Role of Art in the French Revolution
  • The Impact of the Spanish Inquisition on Spain and its Colonies
  • The Rise and Influence of Fascism in Europe
  • The Role of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages
  • The Consequences of the Treaty of Versailles
  • The Formation and Impact of NATO
  • The Role of the Media in the Fall of the Berlin Wall

African History Topics

  • The Effects of Apartheid in South Africa
  • The Influence of the Trans-Saharan Trade on West African Societies
  • The Role of Nelson Mandela in Ending Apartheid
  • The Scramble for Africa and its Effects on the Continent
  • The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on West Africa
  • The Rwandan Genocide: Causes and Consequences
  • The Role of the African Union in Continental Politics
  • The Impact of Islam on North Africa
  • The Decolonization of Africa in the 20th Century
  • The Role of Women in Pre-Colonial African Societies

Military History Topics

  • The Influence of Technological Innovations on Warfare
  • The Role of the French Foreign Legion in Global Conflicts
  • The Impact of the Manhattan Project on World War II and Beyond
  • The Role of the Spartans in Ancient Greek Warfare
  • The Impact of Drones on Modern Warfare
  • The Influence of the English Longbow on Medieval Warfare
  • The Role of the Maginot Line in World War II
  • The Impact of Naval Power on the British Empire
  • The Influence of Nuclear Weapons on International Politics
  • The Role of Propaganda in World War I

This expansive list of best history research paper topics offers a comprehensive exploration of the past, crossing different eras, regions, and themes. They form a rich tapestry of human experience and a foundation for understanding our present and future. Choose a topic that piques your interest, ignites your curiosity, and promises a journey of intellectual discovery. Remember that the exploration of history is a journey into the roots of our shared humanity and an exploration of the forces that shape our world.

History and What Range of Best Research Paper Topics it Offers

As a subject of study, history is more than a chronological list of events, dates, and prominent figures. History is the exploration of human experiences, societal changes, political upheavals, cultural transformations, economic shifts, and technological advancements across different periods and regions. This exploration allows us to understand how the past has shaped our present and how it can potentially shape our future. It teaches us to appreciate the complexities and nuances of human nature and society, making history a rich field for research paper topics.

History is an interdisciplinary field, interweaving elements from various areas of study, including politics, sociology, economics, anthropology, geography, and literature. This interdisciplinary nature provides a wide array of best history research paper topics. Moreover, the global scope of history further broadens the pool of topics, as it encompasses every region of the world and every period from the dawn of human civilization to the present day.

Exploring Different Periods

Historical research often focuses on specific periods, each offering unique topics for exploration. For instance, Ancient History provides topics related to ancient civilizations like Rome, Greece, Egypt, China, and India, and key events such as Alexander the Great’s conquests or the fall of the Roman Empire.

The Medieval Period offers topics related to the socio-political structure of societies, the influence of religion, the impact of plagues, and the role of significant historical figures. Researching the Renaissance can focus on cultural, artistic, and scientific revolutions that have shaped the modern world.

The Modern History category contains topics related to significant events and transformations, such as world wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War, decolonization, and various national and international movements.

Geographical Perspectives

Geographical focus is another common approach in historical research. Asian history encompasses topics ranging from the influence of Confucianism in China to the impact of colonial rule in India. European history explores events such as the Enlightenment, the French and Russian revolutions, and the formation of the European Union. American history topics can cover everything from Manifest Destiny to the Civil Rights Movement. African history can delve into the effects of the Atlantic Slave Trade, the apartheid era, and decolonization.

Thematic Approaches

In addition to period- and region-based topics, history offers an extensive range of thematic topics. These themes often intersect with other disciplines, leading to exciting interdisciplinary research opportunities.

Social and cultural history, for instance, covers diverse topics such as the influence of the Harlem Renaissance on African American culture, the counterculture movement of the 1960s, the role of film and television in shaping societies, or the impacts of the Internet on global culture.

Military history provides a wide range of topics related to warfare, strategy, technological developments, and the influence of military conflicts on societies and politics. From the use of the English longbow in medieval warfare to the impact of drones on modern warfare, this field offers a variety of fascinating topics.

Making the Right Choice

The choice of a research paper topic in history should ideally be guided by your interest, the available resources, and the requirements of your assignment. With such a wide range of topics, it can be challenging to make a choice. But remember, a good history research paper topic is not just about the past; it should also engage with the present and potentially shed light on the future. The best research paper topics are those that not only delve deep into the annals of history but also resonate with current issues and debates.

The study of history is a gateway into the vast narrative of human civilization. With an extensive range of periods, regions, and themes to choose from, history offers a rich reservoir of research paper topics. As we delve into the past, we discover the forces that have shaped our world, gain insights into the human experience, and glean lessons for our future. This journey of exploration makes history an incredibly exciting field for research papers.

How to Choose Best History Research Paper Topics

Choosing the best history research paper topic can be the first step towards a rewarding intellectual journey. It’s not just about meeting academic requirements; it’s about uncovering facets of the past that intrigue you and may potentially contribute to the broader understanding of history. Here are twenty in-depth tips that will guide you through the process and help you select the best topic for your history research paper.

  • Understand the Assignment: Understanding your assignment’s requirements is the primary and most critical step in selecting a topic. Take time to carefully read the guidelines given by your instructor. Are there any specific historical periods, geographical regions, or themes you are required to focus on? Do the instructions indicate the scope or complexity level of the topic? Comprehending the parameters set by your instructor will significantly narrow down your options.
  • Choose a Time Period: One way to approach the topic selection is by focusing on a particular time period that sparks your interest. It could be anything from the Bronze Age, to the Renaissance, to World War II. The more interested you are in the chosen time period, the more engaged you will be in the research process.
  • Pick a Region: Similar to choosing a time period, selecting a particular region or country can also help narrow down potential topics. Are you fascinated by the history of East Asia, intrigued by ancient Egypt, or drawn to the socio-political history of Europe? Starting with a geographic focus can provide a strong foundation for your research.
  • Identify a Theme: In addition to or instead of a time period or region, you might want to choose a theme that you wish to explore. Themes can range from political history, cultural history, history of science and technology, to gender history, among others. A thematic approach can offer a unique perspective and can even allow you to cross over different time periods or regions.
  • Conduct Preliminary Research: Even before you have a firm topic in hand, engage in some preliminary research. This could involve reviewing textbooks, scholarly articles, or reputable online resources related to your chosen period, region, or theme. Preliminary research can give you a general sense of the historical context and inspire potential topics.
  • Seek Inspiration from Existing Works: As part of your preliminary research, look at other research papers, theses, or dissertations in your area of interest. This can give you a good idea of what has been done, what gaps exist in the research, and where your research could potentially fit in.
  • Scope Your Topic: The scope of your topic should be proportionate to the length and depth of your paper. If your paper is relatively short, a narrow, focused topic would be more suitable. For a longer and more complex paper, a broader topic that explores multiple facets or perspectives would be more appropriate.
  • Consider the Relevance: Another aspect to consider when selecting a topic is its relevance. Does the topic have any relation to the course you are undertaking? Does it reflect on current historical or social debates? A topic that connects your historical research to broader academic or social issues can make your paper more impactful and engaging.
  • Look for Unique Angles: While not every research paper can revolutionize the field, striving for some degree of originality in your work is always a good practice. Look for unique angles, underexplored areas, or new perspectives on a well-trodden topic. Presenting a fresh approach can make your paper more interesting for both you and your readers.
  • Assess the Availability of Sources: Your research paper is only as good as your sources. Before finalizing your topic, make sure there are enough primary and secondary sources available to you. This could be in the form of books, academic articles, documentary films, archives, databases, or digital resources.
  • Evaluate the Feasibility: Beyond the availability of sources, consider other practical aspects of your chosen topic. Is it feasible to conduct the research within the given time frame? Is the topic too complex or too simplistic for your current academic level? A realistic evaluation of these factors at an early stage can save you a lot of time and effort down the line.
  • Reflect on Your Interests: Above all, select a topic that genuinely piques your curiosity. A research paper is a significant undertaking, and your interest in the topic will sustain you through potential challenges. If you are passionate about the topic, it will reflect in your writing and make your paper more compelling.
  • Solicit Feedback: Seek advice from your instructor, classmates, or any other knowledgeable individuals. They may be able to provide valuable feedback, point out potential pitfalls, or suggest different perspectives that can enrich your research.
  • Be Flexible: Be prepared to tweak, adjust, or even overhaul your topic as you delve deeper into the research process. New information or insights may emerge that shift your focus or challenge your initial assumptions.
  • Bridge the Past and Present: Try to find topics that allow you to connect historical events or phenomena with contemporary issues. This can provide additional depth to your paper and may also appeal to a broader audience.
  • Consult Specialized Encyclopedias and Guides: These can provide overviews of various topics and can often suggest areas for research. They also offer bibliographies which can serve as a starting point for your research.
  • Draft a Preliminary Thesis Statement: Once you have a potential topic, try drafting a preliminary thesis statement. This can help you focus your ideas and give you a clear direction for your research.
  • Ensure Your Topic Meets the Assignment Goals: Check back with your assignment guidelines to make sure your chosen topic meets all the requirements. It’s a good idea to do this before you start your in-depth research.
  • Be Ready to Invest Time and Effort: Choose a topic that you are ready to spend time on. Remember, you will be working on this topic for an extended period, so choose something that you find interesting and engaging.
  • Enjoy the Process: Finally, remember that the process of researching and writing a history paper can be a source of enjoyment and intellectual satisfaction. Choose a topic that not only meets academic requirements but also gives you a sense of accomplishment and discovery.

Choosing the best history research paper topic is not merely about fulfilling an academic requirement. It’s about setting the stage for a journey into the past, an exploration of humanity’s collective memory. The right topic will not only make this journey enjoyable but also deeply enlightening. By considering these tips, you can select a topic that resonates with you and holds the potential for a meaningful scholarly contribution.

How to Write a Best History Research Paper

Writing a history research paper can be a rewarding experience, providing an opportunity to delve into the past and explore the events, ideas, and personalities that have shaped our world. However, crafting a high-quality paper requires more than just an interest in the subject matter. It involves thorough research, analytical thinking, and clear, persuasive writing. Here are twenty comprehensive tips on how to write a best history research paper.

  • Understand the Assignment: Begin by thoroughly understanding the assignment. Ensure you grasp the requirements, the scope of the paper, the format, and the deadline. Clear any doubts with your professor or peers before you start.
  • Select a Suitable Topic: As discussed earlier, choosing an appropriate topic is crucial. It should be engaging, manageable, and meet the assignment’s requirements. Consider your interests, the available resources, and the paper’s scope when choosing the topic.
  • Conduct In-Depth Research: Once the topic is decided, embark on thorough research. Use a variety of sources, such as books, academic journals, credible online sources, primary sources, and documentaries. Remember to take notes and record the sources for citation purposes.
  • Formulate a Thesis Statement: The thesis statement is the central argument or point of your paper. It should be clear, concise, and debatable, providing a roadmap for your entire paper. The thesis statement should guide your research and each main point you make in your paper should support this central idea.
  • Create an Outline: An outline helps organize your thoughts and arguments. Typically, it should include an introduction (with the thesis statement), body paragraphs (with topic sentences), and a conclusion. Each point in your outline should be a reflection of your thesis statement.
  • Start with a Strong Introduction: The introduction should be engaging, provide some background on the topic, and include the thesis statement. It sets the tone for the rest of your paper, so make it compelling and informative.
  • Develop Body Paragraphs: Each body paragraph should focus on one main idea that supports your thesis. Begin with a topic sentence, provide evidence or arguments, and then conclude the paragraph by linking it back to your thesis. Be clear and concise in your arguments.
  • Use Evidence Effectively: Support your arguments with evidence from your research. This could include quotations, statistics, or primary source materials. Remember to interpret the evidence and explain its relevance to your argument.
  • Maintain a Logical Flow: The ideas in your paper should flow logically from one point to the next. Use transitional words and phrases to maintain continuity and help guide your reader through your paper.
  • Write a Compelling Conclusion: Your conclusion should sum up your main points, restate the thesis in light of the evidence provided, and possibly offer areas for further research or a concluding insight. It should leave the reader with something to think about.
  • Cite Your Sources: Always cite your sources properly. This not only gives credit where it’s due but also strengthens your argument by indicating the breadth of your research. Ensure you follow the required citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Revise for Clarity and Coherence: After finishing your initial draft, revise your work. Check for clarity, coherence, and consistency of argument. Ensure each paragraph has a clear focus, and that the paragraphs flow smoothly from one idea to the next.
  • Proofread: Proofread your paper for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Such errors can distract from the content and undermine your credibility as a writer. Reading your paper aloud or having someone else read it can help catch errors you might have missed.
  • Seek Feedback: Before finalizing your paper, consider seeking feedback from your professor, peers, or a writing center tutor. They can provide valuable perspectives and suggestions for improvement that you might not have considered.
  • Write in a Formal Academic Style: Your paper should be written in a formal academic style. Avoid slang, colloquialisms, and overly complex language. Be clear, concise, and precise in your expression.
  • Avoid Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. Ensure that all ideas and words that are not your own are properly cited. When in doubt, it’s better to over-cite than to under-cite.
  • Stay Objective: A good history paper is objective and does not include personal opinions or biases. It relies on facts and evidence, and presents balanced arguments. Stick to the evidence and avoid emotional language.
  • Be Original: Strive for originality in your argument and interpretation. While your topic might not be entirely new, your perspective on it can be. Don’t be afraid to challenge established interpretations if you have evidence to support your argument.
  • Use Primary Sources Wisely: Primary sources are invaluable in historical research. However, remember that they should be used to support your argument, not to construct it. Your analysis and interpretation of the sources are what matters.
  • Enjoy the Process: Finally, remember to enjoy the process. Writing a research paper is not just an academic exercise, but a journey into the past. It’s a chance to learn, explore, and contribute to our understanding of history.

In conclusion, writing a best history research paper requires careful planning, thorough research, clear writing, and detailed revision. However, the process can be highly rewarding, leading to new insights and a deeper understanding of history. These tips provide a comprehensive guide to help you craft a top-notch history research paper. Remember, history is a continually evolving dialogue, and your paper is your chance to join the conversation.

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Best Research Paper Topic On History For Students


Table of contents

  • 1 What is a History Research Paper?
  • 2 Unique History Research Topics Tips
  • 3 Ancient History Research Paper Topics
  • 4 Middle Ages History Research Paper Topics
  • 5 World History Research Paper Topics
  • 6 WWI History Research Paper Topics
  • 7 WWII History Research Paper Topics
  • 8 20th Century History Research Paper Topics
  • 9 Modern History Research Paper Topics
  • 10 French Revolution Topics
  • 11 European History Research Paper Topics
  • 12 US History Research Paper Topics
  • 13 Art History Research Paper Topics
  • 14 Conclusion

One of the biggest challenges is just how many research topics for students there are. There are European history research paper topics, art history research paper topics, and world history research paper topics among many more. Knowing where to begin can be the biggest hurdle to overcome. In this guide, PapersOwl will give you a list of history topics to get you started.

What is a History Research Paper?

A history research paper is an analysis of a historical time or event. There is usually a thesis statement or argument that the paper analyses and proves. The body of a research paper will lay out evidence to argue the thesis statement. By showing the statement to be possible, the paper might draw on new possibilities and explore new ideas.

When someone reads the paper, they will meet the thesis within the first couple of paragraphs. As they read more, they contemplate what they are being shown. They are presented with evidence to weigh, and they might find themselves wanting to know more about the topic. No matter the subject matter, history research papers present the writer’s own ideas and back them up with evidence such as others’ ideas.

A research paper is different from an essay. Essays are usually personal interpretations of a subject, while research papers build on ideas and evidence by experts. Though you can buy history papers , here are some unique ideas to get you started on a topic you might be interested in.

Unique History Research Topics Tips

Choosing good history topics to research is a challenge for college students. Many students spend too much time worrying about which topic to choose  that they don’t even consider that they also need to learn how to write historical papers .

The best history research paper topics are ones that have strong arguments for discussion. When searching for history research paper topics, you should consider the following:

  • Is your topic relevant, and is there a clear statement?
  • Is there enough prior literature on the topic?
  • Can you find out enough facts with supporting sources and evidence?
  • Are there enough things to consider for the thesis argument and the number of words required?

The majority of research papers require a particular style. This might be comparative, analytical, argumentative, or reflective. You might also be guided to a certain style:

  • A cause and effect paper – to explain and analyze a historical event and its consequences.
  • A persuasive essay – to persuade the reader to a certain way of thinking about a historical event.
  • A paper to compare and contrast – two historical figures/eras/events, etc.

Now we have some background information, let’s explore our list of history topics. For some of them, we have expanded the topic to give you more information.

Ancient History Research Paper Topics

Ancient history is often one of college students’ favorite history research paper topics.

Here are some interesting history research paper topics before 1500.

  • The view of immortality and death in Ancient Egypt – Ancient Egyptians believed that immortality and death were seen as an interruption in life and not the end of it
  • The History of Palestine – Palestine has an interesting history and is defined as an area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea
  • Prophets and Religious Leaders – Religious leaders and prophets have shaped how we view the spiritual world
  • Did the Trojan Horse exist? – a horse that’s crossed through history over 3000 years, but was it real?
  • Traditions and Culture of Sumerians – Sumerian history is an interesting topic and they had an intricate relationship with God
  • How the Iron Age changed the world – with iron farming tools like sickles, farmers could grow new crops and free up their time
  • Prehistoric Britain and the Role of Women
  • A study of Empires and Power – there are so many empires to choose from, including the British Empire and the Mongol Empire
  • Ancient Egyptian symbolism – Ancient Egypt was full of symbols like the Eye of Horus
  • The great wall of China – was it built to prevent internal or external threats?

Middle Ages History Research Paper Topics

When considering history topics to write about, the Middle Ages is always popular. Here are some good research topics for the Middle Ages:

  • The Middle Ages and Chivalry
  • Medieval Europe – the cause and effect of urbanization
  • War in the Middle Ages – the changes brought about by gunpowder
  • The powerful role of the House of Medici in the Middle Ages – the House of Medici was a political dynasty and Italian banking family
  • Were the Crusades a just holy war or a cruel pilgrimage? – The Crusades were religious wars during Medieval times. They were initiated and supported by the Latin Church
  • The changes in armor and weapons during the Middle Ages
  • Scientific Progress during the Dark Ages – universities began in the Dark Ages, and so lots of progress was made in the sciences
  • Middle Age Witch Trials – prosecuting the powerless
  • Evolving Asia in the Middle Ages
  • Religion’s role in daily Middle Age life


World History Research Paper Topics

When it comes to world history topics, you have a huge scope, and narrowing them down can be hard. Here are some interesting history topics from around the world:

  • The Battle of the Seas – Spain and Britain
  • Aftershocks of the Cold War
  • Medieval Europe and social relationships
  • Colonizing South America – this began in 1494 with Christopher Columbus
  • The impact of Apartheid – Apartheid negatively affected children in South Africa, but it was especially devastating for black children
  • Ancient Roman bridal ceremonies
  • Ancient civilizations and weapon use
  • What led to the Thirty Years’ War?
  • Crusades and Religion
  • The Mexican-American War – almost two years of fighting, this was a defining moment for US and Mexican relations

WWI History Research Paper Topics

  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination and the triggering of WWI – Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, which is considered to be the most immediate cause of the Great War
  • The first battle of Marne and its role in preventing Germany’s advances
  • The use of poison gas in the battle of Ypres and its consequences
  • The Treaty of Versailles – signed in 1919, was the formal end to WWI
  • WWI’s human cost – 9 million soldiers and 12 million civilians died during the war
  • WWI’s air and sea battles – a comparison
  • WWI alliances
  • America’s involvement in World War I
  • World War I and the Russian Revolution
  • The Gallipoli Campaign in WWI

WWII History Research Paper Topics

  • A study of the impact of the diary of Anne Frank
  • The invasion of Poland and the start of WWII
  • Holocaust victims – some six million Jews plus millions of others targeted for their political beliefs, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation
  • Africa and WWII
  • The neutrality of the US in World War II – the Neutrality Acts of the 1930s
  • The holocaust and the church
  • Hitler’s perception in Germany during WWII
  • WWII and African Americans
  • WWII and Japanese-American Internment
  • WWII and diplomacy

20th Century History Research Paper Topics

Of course, both WWI and WWII were in the 20th century, but there is so much more to this century than the two huge wars. Here are some history research paper topics from the 1900s to 2000.

  • Northern Irish troubles in the 20th century – typically dated from the end of the 60s to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, but there have been episodes of sporadic violence after
  • The Cuban missile crisis (also known as the October Crisis of 1962 or the Caribbean Crisis) – just over one month of confrontation been the Soviet Union and the United States
  • The Chernobyl disaster
  • The aftermath of WWII
  • The Nuremberg Trials
  • The formation of the European Union
  • The controversies and legacy of François Mitterrand
  • El Salvador and civil war consequences
  • Student revolts of 1968 – student demonstrations in Belgrade, Yugoslavia – the first mass protests since WWII
  • The invention of the Internet and the PC

Modern History Research Paper Topics

Modern history also encompasses some interesting research topics. These include:

  • American History of the 21st Century
  • The atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima – two nuclear weapons were detonated by the US in August 1945, killing as many as 226,000, with most being civilians
  • Europeans Vs Native Americans
  • America’s social movements
  • Industrialists and inventors of the modern world
  • 21st-century US policies and immigration
  • Social movements and the effects of industrialization in America
  • The cost of industrialization in the U.S.
  • The European Union – currently 27 member states and 447 million inhabitants, the beginnings of the EU data to post-WWII
  • Socio-economic developments and gender inequality

French Revolution Topics

If the French Revolution interests you, here is a list of research topics.

  • Causes of the French Revolution – there were many causes, which included social inequality, tax burdens, and a financial crisis
  • The French Revolution and absolutism
  • The effects of the French Revolution on modern France
  • The role of the French Revolution in world history – the French Revolution shaped modern nations showing how the inherent will of the people can prevail
  • Societal transformation after the French Revolution
  • The influence of Robespierre in the French Revolution
  • The French Revolution and music – the French Revolution had a huge influence on music and French operas
  • Olympe de Gouges and the French Revolution
  • A Tale of Two Cities and the French Revolution – the French Revolution is a key event in Charles Dickens’s novel
  • The French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte’s betrayal

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European History Research Paper Topics

There are many argumentative research paper topics for European History. Here are some examples:

  • Britain’s Kings and Queens – the British monarchy began following raids by the Vikings, and Alfred the Great assumed the title of “King of the English”
  • History of the European Economy
  • The Seven Years’ War
  • 18th-century European Politics
  • The rise of fascism
  • Francisco Franco and the far right in Spain
  • Fascist propaganda in Italy, Germany, and Spain in the 20th century
  • The merge of science and art in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • The rise of Stalin – Stalin was a student radical and became an influential member and ultimate leader of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party
  • English Witch hunts and gender bias – gender played a huge role in witch hunts in Early-Modern Europe, and even the Catholic Church believed women were more prone to demonic possession

US History Research Paper Topics

American History topics are always interesting, and there is usually lots of evidence and sources to help you write a good research paper .

For anyone interested in US History, these American history research paper topics for college students are great ones to get stuck into:

  • What led to the USA civil war? The American Civil War is one of the most written about and studied parts of U.S. history
  • History of US elections
  • Social Conflicts in the American Revolution
  • The US Federalist Era
  • African-Americans in the civil war
  • Segregation and Racism in the United States – African American history research paper topics are always an interesting read
  • The first Native American civilizations
  • The American Civil War and the distribution of wealth
  • The 1992 Riots in Los Angeles – lots of lootings, civil disturbances, and arson in April and May 1992 due to the LAPD using excessive force when arresting Rodney King
  • The Impact of Barack Obama

Art History Research Paper Topics

When many people look for history research paper topics for middle school, they like to combine it with another subject they are studying, like art. Some people also write about music history paper topics . Here are some historical topics that are on the subject of art.

  • Art History Vs Art Studio
  • US art history and politics
  • Frank Stella’s life
  • Art and war
  • Links between philosophy and art
  • Symbolism in the paintings of Frida Kahlo
  • Salvador Dali and his surrealist sculptures
  • Gothic architecture
  • Women and beauty standards in the Renaissance
  • The differences between art deco and art nouveau

Having the freedom to choose an essay topic can be both exciting and daunting. It is a huge challenge and responsibility. Hopefully, though, one of our research paper topics 2023 will help set you off on the right path to producing a great essay!

Remember that writing a history research paper is different from writing an essay. With this type of essay, you need to combine your own ideas with the ideas of historians and researchers before you come up with a supporting argument to a thesis. While you might choose any one of our ideas above, you should always bear in mind that you’ll need to find sources and evidence to use in your research paper. If you find a topic that is too difficult to find enough information on, it might be that you should choose a different slant or a different topic altogether. You should never leave this sort of paper until the last minute before the deadline. A research paper takes time and effort and done right, is a really satisfying assignment to hand in. If you find yourself in need of assistance, consider looking into research paper writing services , as they may be able to provide additional help and guidance. Good luck!

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research paper topics for 1960s


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In this paper consisting of five pages comparing and contrasting viewpoints of the protest movements of this era are offered inclu... ...

This paper is written in the form of a fictitious letter from a NAACP attorney during the 1960s. The attorney represents an Afric... ...

In six pages America's sexual revolution during the 1960s is examined in an overview of the impact of birth control and liberal at... ...

In a paper consisting of five pages the cartoons produced by these two studios during this time period are contrasted and compared... ...

In five pages this paper examines the challenges confronting new generations during the time periods of the 1870s through the 1890... ...

This text is reviewed in a paper consisting of three pages. There are no other sources listed.... ...

In four pages changes since the 1960s regarding schools and the education system as a whole are examined. Four sources are cited ... ...

In thirteen pages this paper examines the impact of Jimi Hendrix and the counter music revolution on the American culture of the 1... ...

This 4 page paper discusses the Civil Rights movement as well as the Vietnam War protestors, explains both sides, and considers th... ...

A 4 page paper which examines the women’s liberation of the 1960s. Bibliography lists 5 sources.... ...

This paper looks at Philip K Dick's novel Ubik in relation to the period in which it was written, and draws parallels with the eve... ...

This 11 page paper discusses Lt. William Calley, the My Lai Massacre and the draft resistors as examples of what it was like in Am... ...

This paper describes Thunder Storm's tall tale of his journey through the turbulent Sixties. The annotated bibliography cites 6 s... ...

Examines the influences of happenings in the 1960s, and their impact on today. There are 3 sources listed in the bibliography of t... ...

In five pages the Persian Gulf War's impact upon the economy of the United States in terms of residual effects is discussed. Seve... ...

In sixty pages this research paper discusses Asia trade, applies various trade models, and then considers the effects of technolog... ...

In ten pages this paper examines contemporary society in an assessment of the importance of such concepts as productivity, unemplo... ...

In eight pages the Euro common currency is examined within the context of France and its national implications. Nine sources are ... ...

This paper consists of two pages and evaluates fixed exchange rates in a consideration of their primary advantages and disadvantag... ...

In eight pages this paper argues in favor of China retaining its most favored nation economic trading status by the United States.... ...

In four pages this paper considers the Kennedy administration's approaches to the American economy with the year 1963 the primary ... ...

In ten pages this paper discusses the impact of the Euro currency on Europe, investors, and on the US. Fifteen sources are cited ... ...

In five pages economic forecasting is considered in terms of econometric models' impact. Five sources are cited in the bibliograp... ...

In six pages this paper discusses the causes of the 1987 crash of the stock market and the consequences that resulted. Five sourc... ...

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A new way to detect radiation involving cheap ceramics

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Jennifer Rupp, Thomas Defferriere, Harry Tuller, and Ju Li pose standing in a lab, with a nuclear radiation warning sign in the background

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The radiation detectors used today for applications like inspecting cargo ships for smuggled nuclear materials are expensive and cannot operate in harsh environments, among other disadvantages. Now, in work funded largely by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with early support from the U.S. Department of Energy, MIT engineers have demonstrated a fundamentally new way to detect radiation that could allow much cheaper detectors and a plethora of new applications.

They are working with Radiation Monitoring Devices , a company in Watertown, Massachusetts, to transfer the research as quickly as possible into detector products.

In a 2022 paper in Nature Materials , many of the same engineers reported for the first time how ultraviolet light can significantly improve the performance of fuel cells and other devices based on the movement of charged atoms, rather than those atoms’ constituent electrons.

In the current work, published recently in Advanced Materials , the team shows that the same concept can be extended to a new application: the detection of gamma rays emitted by the radioactive decay of nuclear materials.

“Our approach involves materials and mechanisms very different than those in presently used detectors, with potentially enormous benefits in terms of reduced cost, ability to operate under harsh conditions, and simplified processing,” says Harry L. Tuller, the R.P. Simmons Professor of Ceramics and Electronic Materials in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE).

Tuller leads the work with key collaborators Jennifer L. M. Rupp, a former associate professor of materials science and engineering at MIT who is now a professor of electrochemical materials at Technical University Munich in Germany, and Ju Li, the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor in Nuclear Engineering and a professor of materials science and engineering. All are also affiliated with MIT’s Materials Research Laboratory

“After learning the Nature Materials work, I realized the same underlying principle should work for gamma-ray detection — in fact, may work even better than [UV] light because gamma rays are more penetrating — and proposed some experiments to Harry and Jennifer,” says Li.

Says Rupp, “Employing shorter-range gamma rays enable [us] to extend the opto-ionic to a radio-ionic effect by modulating ionic carriers and defects at material interfaces by photogenerated electronic ones.”

Other authors of the Advanced Materials paper are first author Thomas Defferriere, a DMSE postdoc, and Ahmed Sami Helal, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.

Modifying barriers

Charge can be carried through a material in different ways. We are most familiar with the charge that is carried by the electrons that help make up an atom. Common applications include solar cells. But there are many devices — like fuel cells and lithium batteries — that depend on the motion of the charged atoms, or ions, themselves rather than just their electrons.

The materials behind applications based on the movement of ions, known as solid electrolytes, are ceramics. Ceramics, in turn, are composed of tiny crystallite grains that are compacted and fired at high temperatures to form a dense structure. The problem is that ions traveling through the material are often stymied at the boundaries between the grains.

In their 2022 paper, the MIT team showed that ultraviolet (UV) light shone on a solid electrolyte essentially causes electronic perturbations at the grain boundaries that ultimately lower the barrier that ions encounter at those boundaries. The result: “We were able to enhance the flow of the ions by a factor of three,” says Tuller, making for a much more efficient system.

Vast potential

At the time, the team was excited about the potential of applying what they’d found to different systems. In the 2022 work, the team used UV light, which is quickly absorbed very near the surface of a material. As a result, that specific technique is only effective in thin films of materials. (Fortunately, many applications of solid electrolytes involve thin films.)

Light can be thought of as particles — photons — with different wavelengths and energies. These range from very low-energy radio waves to the very high-energy gamma rays emitted by the radioactive decay of nuclear materials. Visible light — and UV light — are of intermediate energies, and fit between the two extremes.

The MIT technique reported in 2022 worked with UV light. Would it work with other wavelengths of light, potentially opening up new applications? Yes, the team found. In the current paper they show that gamma rays also modify the grain boundaries resulting in a faster flow of ions that, in turn, can be easily detected. And because the high-energy gamma rays penetrate much more deeply than UV light, “this extends the work to inexpensive bulk ceramics in addition to thin films,” says Tuller. It also allows a new application: an alternative approach to detecting nuclear materials.

Today’s state-of-the-art radiation detectors depend on a completely different mechanism than the one identified in the MIT work. They rely on signals derived from electrons and their counterparts, holes, rather than ions. But these electronic charge carriers must move comparatively great distances to the electrodes that “capture” them to create a signal. And along the way, they can be easily lost as they, for example, hit imperfections in a material. That’s why today’s detectors are made with extremely pure single crystals of material that allow an unimpeded path. They can be made with only certain materials and are difficult to process, making them expensive and hard to scale into large devices.

Using imperfections

In contrast, the new technique works because of the imperfections — grains — in the material. “The difference is that we rely on ionic currents being modulated at grain boundaries versus the state-of-the-art that relies on collecting electronic carriers from long distances,” Defferriere says.

Says Rupp, “It is remarkable that the bulk ‘grains’ of the ceramic materials tested revealed high stabilities of the chemistry and structure towards gamma rays, and solely the grain boundary regions reacted in charge redistribution of majority and minority carriers and defects.”

Comments Li, “This radiation-ionic effect is distinct from the conventional mechanisms for radiation detection where electrons or photons are collected. Here, the ionic current is being collected.”

Igor Lubomirsky, a professor in the Department of Materials and Interfaces at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, who was not involved in the current work, says, “I found the approach followed by the MIT group in utilizing polycrystalline oxygen ion conductors very fruitful given the [materials’] promise for providing reliable operation under irradiation under the harsh conditions expected in nuclear reactors where such detectors often suffer from fatigue and aging. [They also] benefit from much-reduced fabrication costs.”

As a result, the MIT engineers are hopeful that their work could result in new, less expensive detectors. For example, they envision trucks loaded with cargo from container ships driving through a structure that has detectors on both sides as they leave a port. “Ideally, you’d have either an array of detectors or a very large detector, and that’s where [today’s detectors] really don’t scale very well,” Tuller says.

Another potential application involves accessing geothermal energy, or the extreme heat below our feet that is being explored as a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels. Ceramic sensors at the ends of drill bits could detect pockets of heat — radiation — to drill toward. Ceramics can easily withstand extreme temperatures of more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit and the extreme pressures found deep below the Earth’s surface.

The team is excited about additional applications for their work. “This was a demonstration of principle with just one material,” says Tuller, “but there are thousands of other materials good at conducting ions.”

Concludes Defferriere: “It’s the start of a journey on the development of the technology, so there’s a lot to do and a lot to discover.”

This work is currently supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. This support does not constitute an express or implied endorsement on the part of the government. It was also funded by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

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Read our research on: Gun Policy | International Conflict | Election 2024

Regions & Countries

About 1 in 4 u.s. teachers say their school went into a gun-related lockdown in the last school year.

Twenty-five years after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado , a majority of public K-12 teachers (59%) say they are at least somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting ever happening at their school. This includes 18% who say they’re extremely or very worried, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to better understand public K-12 teachers’ views on school shootings, how prepared they feel for a potential active shooter, and how they feel about policies that could help prevent future shootings.

To do this, we surveyed 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2023. The teachers are members of RAND’s American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative panel of public school K-12 teachers recruited through MDR Education. Survey data is weighted to state and national teacher characteristics to account for differences in sampling and response to ensure they are representative of the target population.

We also used data from our 2022 survey of U.S. parents. For that project, we surveyed 3,757 U.S. parents with at least one child younger than 18 from Sept. 20 to Oct. 2, 2022. Find more details about the survey of parents here .

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

Another 31% of teachers say they are not too worried about a shooting occurring at their school. Only 7% of teachers say they are not at all worried.

This survey comes at a time when school shootings are at a record high (82 in 2023) and gun safety continues to be a topic in 2024 election campaigns .

A pie chart showing that a majority of teachers are at least somewhat worried about a shooting occurring at their school.

Teachers’ experiences with lockdowns

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that about 1 in 4 teachers say their school had a gun-related lockdown last year.

About a quarter of teachers (23%) say they experienced a lockdown in the 2022-23 school year because of a gun or suspicion of a gun at their school. Some 15% say this happened once during the year, and 8% say this happened more than once.

High school teachers are most likely to report experiencing these lockdowns: 34% say their school went on at least one gun-related lockdown in the last school year. This compares with 22% of middle school teachers and 16% of elementary school teachers.

Teachers in urban schools are also more likely to say that their school had a gun-related lockdown. About a third of these teachers (31%) say this, compared with 19% of teachers in suburban schools and 20% in rural schools.

Do teachers feel their school has prepared them for an active shooter?

About four-in-ten teachers (39%) say their school has done a fair or poor job providing them with the training and resources they need to deal with a potential active shooter.

A bar chart showing that 3 in 10 teachers say their school has done an excellent or very good job preparing them for an active shooter.

A smaller share (30%) give their school an excellent or very good rating, and another 30% say their school has done a good job preparing them.

Teachers in urban schools are the least likely to say their school has done an excellent or very good job preparing them for a potential active shooter. About one-in-five (21%) say this, compared with 32% of teachers in suburban schools and 35% in rural schools.

Teachers who have police officers or armed security stationed in their school are more likely than those who don’t to say their school has done an excellent or very good job preparing them for a potential active shooter (36% vs. 22%).

Overall, 56% of teachers say they have police officers or armed security stationed at their school. Majorities in rural schools (64%) and suburban schools (56%) say this, compared with 48% in urban schools.

Only 3% of teachers say teachers and administrators at their school are allowed to carry guns in school. This is slightly more common in school districts where a majority of voters cast ballots for Donald Trump in 2020 than in school districts where a majority of voters cast ballots for Joe Biden (5% vs. 1%).

What strategies do teachers think could help prevent school shootings?

A bar chart showing that 69% of teachers say better mental health treatment would be highly effective in preventing school shootings.

The survey also asked teachers how effective some measures would be at preventing school shootings.

Most teachers (69%) say improving mental health screening and treatment for children and adults would be extremely or very effective.

About half (49%) say having police officers or armed security in schools would be highly effective, while 33% say the same about metal detectors in schools.

Just 13% say allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns in schools would be extremely or very effective at preventing school shootings. Seven-in-ten teachers say this would be not too or not at all effective.

How teachers’ views differ by party

A dot plot showing that teachers’ views of strategies to prevent school shootings differ by political party.

Republican and Republican-leaning teachers are more likely than Democratic and Democratic-leaning teachers to say each of the following would be highly effective:

  • Having police officers or armed security in schools (69% vs. 37%)
  • Having metal detectors in schools (43% vs. 27%)
  • Allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns in schools (28% vs. 3%)

And while majorities in both parties say improving mental health screening and treatment would be highly effective at preventing school shootings, Democratic teachers are more likely than Republican teachers to say this (73% vs. 66%).

Parents’ views on school shootings and prevention strategies

In fall 2022, we asked parents a similar set of questions about school shootings.

Roughly a third of parents with K-12 students (32%) said they were extremely or very worried about a shooting ever happening at their child’s school. An additional 37% said they were somewhat worried.

As is the case among teachers, improving mental health screening and treatment was the only strategy most parents (63%) said would be extremely or very effective at preventing school shootings. And allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns in schools was seen as the least effective – in fact, half of parents said this would be not too or not at all effective. This question was asked of all parents with a child younger than 18, regardless of whether they have a child in K-12 schools.

Like teachers, parents’ views on strategies for preventing school shootings differed by party. 

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

research paper topics for 1960s

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Among many u.s. children, reading for fun has become less common, federal data shows, most european students learn english in school, for u.s. teens today, summer means more schooling and less leisure time than in the past, about one-in-six u.s. teachers work second jobs – and not just in the summer, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .


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