Dr. Ellen Joiner
Developing a thesis statement
Ask a central question regarding your topic, and turn that question in to a statement. Is it something that can be proven, argued, documented? If so, it might be a workable thesis statement.
Gather your sources (1). Identify a few relevant primary sources and select the best from among those.
Newspaper sources (archives, NY Times Historical, Historic American Newspapers (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/), even Google News Archives
- Autobiographical sources (library catalog)
- Digital archives (infomine.ucr.edu as search tool)
- Gather your sources (2). Identify suitable secondary sources. Are they relevant and reliable?
- Is the material presented in the source relevant to the subject?
- Are the facts presented in the secondary source in agreement with their mention in the primary document?
- Do other secondary sources agree or differ with the source under examination?
- Do critiques and reviews of the source generally support it? If there is a dissenting opinion, which is more convincing?
- Is the presentation of the source consistent with the material learned in class?
- Is the author's analysis of the issues fair, balanced, and based on the facts presented?
- What is the reputation of the author? Is he/she know to quote facts accurately and to analyze issues fairly?
- Where will you find your monograph? The library catalog. Print books and e-books are equally acceptable, as long as the monograph is relevant and reliable.
- Documenting your material. Which citation style will you be following? Chicago Documentation Style is as simple as MLA. A good guide can be found here:
Catalog search suggestions (using Library of Congress subject headings):
Primary Sources Subject Headings:
Personal Narratives (or the word 'narrative' in the title of a book, usually)
Sources (this is the main subject heading for primary sources)
Look for books with the following subject headings:
Colonies—(America or United States)
Colonies—(America or United States)—History
Colonization. (America or United States)
Labor - History