How to Write Your First Writing about History

What Do You Read Carefully and Write About?. 1

Requirements for Citation for Written Papers. 1

Tips for Reading. 2

If You Want to Know Why We Use These Shortened Citations. 2

If You Quote (and You Do Not Have to) - Brain Trick for Quoting and Avoiding Quotation Humiliation. 2


What Do You Read Carefully and Write About?

What do you read?

In the primaries for Chapter 16 on the Pullman Strike

In the textbook, use 581, 584-585.

Tip for reading this very important document (stays on this webpage)

What do you write about?

Watch your assumptions. Use the primaries and your textbook to answer 4 questions:

1) What is Governor Altgeld’s responsibility and his judgement on the situation?

2) What is the situation of the workers and people in Pullman, Illinois?

3) What does Pullman argue?

4) How does it all turn out? (Not covered in the letters but in class and in the textbook.)

Tips for Reading, Figuring Things Out, and Writing (Goes to another webpage; click Back to return.)

Do you provide a heading?

No, you do not add a heading. You begin writing with the 1st question.

You also do not type your name on your paper. On the back of your paper that you bring to class on the date in the Course Schedule, you print your name as it is on the roster, your class days (such as Tuesday-Thursday) and your class time.


See below for how you cite the primary and the textbook.


330 words maximum – With the format below, it will be less than 1 page. Do not go over 1 printed page.


Use the preformatted file that includes the questions.

Do not change any of the settings:

  • Double-spaced.
  • 11 point Calibri font.
  • Margins -1” on the left and .5” on the right

The pre-formatted file is an .rtf file (Rich Text Format). You may work in that file or you may save it to another file type that Turnitin accepts. Turnitin accepts these types of files:

·         A Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx)

·         An Adobe file (.pdf)

·         An Open Office document (.odt)

General requirements?

Type in a word processor and run spell and grammar checking. Print it and proof it.
(To proof = to compare side by side paper and source to be sure page numbers and facts and names and quotations and everything is correct.)

Where do you submit it?

In Blackboard, in the Turnitin Assignment below this link.

What is the rubric used to grade this and all writing?

Click here for more on the rubric and how to use it to plan your work and when your work is graded.


Requirements for Citation for Written Papers

If you want to know why we use these shortened citations, click here (goes to the bottom of the page)

What You Want to Cite

Example of How You Would Cite

If the fact is from George Pullman’s Response to Striking Workers

If your fact is from page 1 of Pullman’s 3-page response (received by Altgeld on 8/21/1894), then immediately after your fact you’d write: (Pullman, p. 1)

If the fact is from the collection of letters, it depends on the letter

There are 4 letters, 2 on the first page and 1 on each remaining page.

The primary states above each letter written by Altgeld or the Citizens of Pullman what citation you use for that letter

If the fact is from the required textbook, the Essentials edition

If your fact is from page 581 of the textbook, then immediately after your fact you’d write: (Essentials, p. 581)


Tips for Reading

Read the primary first just to notice the time period. Then read these primaries aloud as though you were the citizens committee or Governor Altgeld or Pullman. Then think about how it would feel to read this. Don’t get suckered. How does all this actually turn out?

Use a) the primary itself, b) the pages of the Essentials text. Use the index for George Pullman and for the Pullman Strike

One other thing might help you realize about 1894: notice the past covered in this quick reference I provide in the resources for Chapter 16: Why you need to recognize prior eras. You cannot understand the primaries for Chapter 16—nor the period of the Gilded Age at all—unless you realize how different these people are from many people today.

If You Want to Know Why We Use These Shortened Citations

The reasons are:

1.       All of your written assignments are brief. If you used traditional MLA citation which is written inline (within your lines of text), you would use up your word count much faster.

2.       History’s standard, the Chicago Manual of Style, provides rigorous citation, but not inline. Instead, it uses endnotes or footnotes to provide citation.

In other words, citation is there but it is not in the way of communication of the history. The citation is not written within your lines of text because of how historians write about history.

·         They are helping people understand the past.

·         That is your job as well. Why? When you try to help someone understand history, you start to understand it yourself. If you want to understand something, try to teach it.

3.       In this class, you may place your citation in either endnotes or inline, but we make that citation as unobtrusive as possible by making it very brief.

If You Quote (and You Do Not Have to) - Brain Trick for Quoting and Avoiding Quotation Humiliation

Click here for additional tips.

The rules for showing what you have taken out (…) of the author’s words or put in ([ ]) are complex and for most of us they are not worth learning.


This brain trick lets you be accurate but avoid learning those rules:

  1. Choose 3 to 6 words to quote and change nothing (not an ing or an ed, not a comma, nothing) between the first and the last word.

  2. Put abefore the first word and a after the last word.

  3. Place those words with the “ ”within your sentence.


  1. If something sounds awkward about your sentences, then change your own words—the only words you have a right to change.


  1. Look at all of the words in the source. Be sure the meaning of the source remains in your quotation.





Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2017


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