Five History Research Projects To Assign Your Students


If you or someone you know are currently involved in the profession of teaching – specifically, a history teacher – then you know just how important it is to keep all of your students busy by having them learn about various topics of historical significance. You could even go so far as to assign them a research project regarding these historical topics. But the following question begs to be asked as a result of this: how exactly does a history teacher know which historical topics should be researched by students?



Thankfully, the answer to the aforementioned question is quite easy enough to answer. The following five topics of historical significance will serve as a wonderful starting point regarding what you should have your students research.


*September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: Almost everyone remembers where they were on the horrifying day that the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists armed with airplanes filled with passengers and crew. Thousands of people lost their lives this day, and the lives of millions of others remain affected by this frightening incident to this very day.

*Salem, Massachusetts witch trials: This point in history dates back to 1692, in which a group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several townswomen of witchcraft. This caused widespread mass hysteria throughout the town which resulted in the trials and executions of countless women, some of whom were, in reality, completely innocent of the charges levied against them.

*The Great Depression: Lasting from 1929 until 1939, this was one of the darkest points in recorded history that began with the crash of the United States stock market in October of 1929, which caused countless investors to lose large sums of money and throwing the entire country into a panic. This also resulted in numerous companies losing money, which led to thousands of workers being laid off, giving them virtually no means to provide for their families.

*The Industrial Revolution: This is a period of history that lasted in the 18th and 19th centuries, most notably in Europe and the United States of America, in which both regions officially became urban and industrial. This was thanks largely in part to the introduction of mass production of machinery, materials, textiles, etc. in establishments such as factories.

*The Holocaust: At some point or another in our lifetimes, chances are we have learned something about this terrible time in world history, in which six million members of the Jewish population of Europe, most notably Germany, were systematically persecuted and killed by the infamous Nazi regime. The Holocaust saw the establishment of concentration camps, where these individuals were sent to to be worked, starved, and eventually executed.



These are just a few of the many different ideas of historical topics that you, as a history teacher, can assign your students to research. You may also want to consider allowing them to choose exactly which historical event or period that they wish to research the most. In the end, the overall goal is the same – strengthening the minds of all of our young people through learning.


7 Helpful Research Tools

There has never been a better time in history to do research. The internet and other technological breakthroughs have made it possible to access an ever-growing trove of information from home, work, or from the palm of your hand. However, basic sensibility indicates that, “Just because you read it on the internet does not mean that it is true.”


Researchers need to take care to review and use texts and media which have meaningful validity. Google is wonderful for basic topic searches but with millions of results for a single search, the researcher must often spend a lot of time combing through metadata to find authoritative information.


Helpful Research Tools and Resources for Modern Research


Researchers need reliable sources and tools in this Age of Information; sources that may be cited with confidence and certainty are necessary for serious education and career projects. There are many authentic tools available to today’s researcher.


  • The Library of Congress – Located at, the Library of Congress offers an impressive website and online data collection of thousands of media items. Music, maps, art, photos, webcast audio, and even a Sports and Leisure section exist here. There is also a searchable database for their card catalog, if researchers are looking for a specific book or other publication.


  • PubMed – Part of the NIH’s US National Library of Medicine, this site is an essential first stop for any research of medicine. This is a massive, constantly updated database of published medical studies and articles from around the world. Generally speaking, the article abstract is free but in many cases the full text may not be. However, PubMed provides links to the full articles at their original place of publication. If the articles require a fee or a membership, it may be possible to access them through a public or university library. They may be found at


  • BioMed Central – This open access publishing website at has almost 300 journals and manuscripts on science, technology, and medicine. This is a great resource for biology, chemistry, and genomic research.


  • The Gutenberg Project – is a free e-book project. With almost 50,000 fiction and nonfiction titles online in a searchable database, there are very few topics which will not yield some results. An excellent place to begin history or literary research, as many free history e-books and timeless literature are available for download.


  • Mendeley – This is a tool for researchers that is unsurpassed in its class. offers a free software/app package, which users can enjoy seamlessly across all of their devices. Researchers, whether student or professional, can create their own research document library, create easy citations in a number of formats while writing, and even participate in an academic social network. It functions with a number of operating systems, is compatible with all popular word processing programs, can annotate PDF documents, and auto-generate bibliographies.


  • Perseus Digital Library – is a fantastic source for all things Ancient History and Literature. While some texts here are in their original language, many have English translations. While their main focus is Greco-Roman, there are resources from other points in history as well. There are photos of art, objects, and documents as well. This resource is fully searchable.


  • Your Public or University Library – The brick and mortar library is still as relevant today as it ever has been. A librarian may have access to certain journals, periodicals, and other subscription based information to which researchers would not otherwise be able to freely view. If a book is found through the Library of Congress or Google, but the text is not fully available online, a local library may have a copy. If they do not, they may be able to assist patrons with getting access to the materials they need. Libraries also often carry local histories that simply may not be available elsewhere. The library is a tool, a resource, and sometimes a true saving grace for students and professionals, no matter the subject of research.


What about Wikipedia?


Wikipedia isn’t an authentic resource. Written by average people and updated by anyone, Wiki can notoriously be incorrect, have biases, and isn’t reviewed by a publisher or academic peers. While researchers should never directly cite it, Wiki isn’t completely useless. If it exists, or has existed, you will probably find it in Wiki. The trick to using it is to look at the articles and see if they are sourced. Follow the citations, and those reference materials in the cites may be useful in research.


While there are many sources of great materials online and in libraries around the world, it is an amazing idea that research has become easier and accessible to almost everyone. It is even better that there are tools online and in most communities to assist researchers and anyone thirsty to learn.


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4 Ways to Challenge Your Students

The Challenge for the Teacher

There was once an English professor who posed the question of how a teacher is supposed to evaluate the student’s acquired knowledge at the end of a class by any means other than writing. When the students began to debate the question among themselves, they realized there was no really adequate way for the teacher to know except through a written report or presentation. This ends up being the greatest challenge to the students. However, there are hidden processes contained in this basic reality that will help challenge students during the process.

Historicize The Students

What this means is to challenge the students to understand the history of their project. History has become largely ignored in modern education, as is evidenced by a History degree being one of the lowest demand and lowest paying of any bachelor degree program. When you expect students to understand the history behind their presentation, you will invite them to understand different cultures and ways of thinking, adding to their overall education and thinking processes.

Require Organization

Any presentation requires organization, but with ADHD being a leading problem among college age students and the increased use of mobile devices, getting a student to organize their thoughts is far more of a challenge than before. It is not merely the organization of the physical presentation, whether it is on paper or a digital form, but the expression of the ideas contained within the presentation.

Assign Groups

Groups or teams are the de facto requirement for working in the business world and the academic world. Collaboration is key for any type of success, and requiring students to effectively work together is a step to learning how to function within a group. They will be challenged to accept other people’s ideas and methods, see the other side of an argument, and learn to resolve differences for the benefit of the group.

Require Questions

The questions in question here are those asked by the students to the teacher about the project. They can range from specific problems they encountered in doing the project or about extending their curiosity and asking how does their particular project connect to other classroom projects or topics. This encourages other students to become engaged, and if the requirement is known ahead of time, other students will be prepared to challenge one another. Encouraging constructive competitiveness is a positive motivating force.

Assessing the Results

Once the students are challenged in these various ways, the teacher can qualitatively and quantitatively assess the entire process. Students who make the effort will obviously be noticed by both the teacher and classmates. Developing knowledge beyond the simplistic read and recite methodology will expand the student’s awareness of the class and related disciplines. The connection between being challenged and being motivated will be evident. Encouraging collaboration and cooperation will be seen in the attitudes of the students, and the teacher can also use the results to assess their own conduct and direction of the class. Overall, challenging the students in these four ways serves to open the door for individual introspection that will be a barometer for future results.