History

How does your family (or community) experience a specific moment in U.S. History?For the final project, you will write a 3 to 4 page paper that examines the intersection between your family/or community’s history with the wider history of the United States. To do this, choose a specific episode/moment from U.S. history and interview a family member about their experiences during this moment in U.S. history. You will then write a short essay that examines how your interview subject experienced the specific moment in history you choose. This assignment combines some of the skills you’ve been working on in this class. It asks you to find and create your own primary source (interviewing a family/ community member or friend) and contextualizing that primary source (explaining what was going on in that moment that shaped their experience). Then it asks you to determine the historical significance—what does that person’s experience help us better understand about U.S. history?Your essay should have a thesis that explains how the person’s experience intersected with the larger forces at play in U.S. History. Your thesis might also explain how the person’s experience illustrates one of the key themes in U.S. History. Your essay must also include at least 2 citations from course materials (textbooks, documentaries, podcasts).If you need a refresher on the larger themes of U.S. history (as discussed in this class), go back to the first powerpoint of the class and think about the key themes of the course.Class Themes1. Changing Meaning of Freedom2. Changing Role of the Federal Government3. Origins of inequality4. Ways that people try to change their world5. Migration and why people moveTips for completing the final project:1. Choose a specific moment in U.S. history that you are curious about (It will be easier if it is relatively recent—like the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Migration, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, September 11th, the Mexican American Civil Rights Struggle, the Struggle for migrant workers’ rights, the struggle for LGBTQ rights or women’s rights, the movement of migrant workers, deindustrialization, etc).a. Maybe think about a moment that made you wonder how your parents remember it or how somebody older than yourself experienced it.b. Reread the relevant passages related to that history in the textbook. Revisit the documentaries or Voices of Freedom chapters that are relevant.c. If you choose a more recent moment in U.S. history, say from 2004-2016, you will need to read chapter 28. 2. Find a family member/ community member or friend who lived through that movement and ask if you can speak to them about it. Set up a time to speak (If you are interviewing somebody who does not live in your household, I encourage you to do this over the phone or via webex, skype, facetime, zoom). Please be safe. a. List a few general questions that you want to ask them:i. Do you remember x (x=the event, moment you choose)?ii. How did x affect your life?iii. How did you feel about xb. Take detailed notes so that you can quote from the interview in your essay. You might also want to ask if you can record the conversation on your phone. 3. Write an essay that explores how your subject’s personal experience intersects with the larger history of that specific moment you choose. Tips for writing the essayo Your essay should contain a thesis that explains how your interview subject’s experience intersects with a specific moment in U.S. history. The strongest thesis will tie your subject’s experience to one of the key themes of the course and explain what their experience helps us understand about that theme. o It should have multiple paragraphs.o It should include at least two citations from one of the assigned course materials (the textbook, Voices of Freedom, Warmth of Other Suns, or one of the documentaries). MLA or Parenthetical citations are fineo A sample outline might be1. Paragraph One: Short introduction with thesis2. Paragraph Two: explanation of your who your subject is and other necessary biographical information. 3. Paragraph three: explanation of the specific historical moment they witnessed and how they participated in it/ were affected by it.4. Paragraph four: Provides relevant context taken from Give Me Liberty (Voices of Freedom or documentaries optional) and an explanation of how it helps us understand your interview subject’s experience. 5. Paragraph five: conclusion—how does this person’s experience help us understand a key theme in U.S. history?Example 1: I am really interested in the Mexican American Civil Rights movement, my mother grew up in South Texas and is Mexican American. I will interview her and ask her what life was like in South Texas when she was growing up—did she experience or witness any discrimination because she was Mexican American? Does she remember any protests or actions? She talks a little bit about how her elementary school teachers punished her for speaking Spanish and how the school counselors would discourage her and the other Mexican American students from taking college prep classes. I would then write an essay that explores how my mom experienced that moment. My thesis might be:My mother’s experience showcases the ways in which Mexican Americans were treated like second class citizens in South Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. Specifically her experiences at school show us how discrimination perpetuated economic inequality.Example 2: I find the history of the 2008 financial crisis really interesting and important. I read more about it in Chapter 28, and I know my cousin lived through it and lost his job. I will interview him and ask what life was like at that moment—what happened to him? how did he feel about what was happening? He recalls how stressful it was to lose his job and his anger and frustration that the government bailed out the banks but didn’t really help him or his family keep their home. I will write an essay that explores how he experienced that moment. My thesis might be:My cousin’s experience during the 2008 financial crisis shows how it devastated the lives of ordinary people and illustrates the way in which the conflict over the proper role of the federal government still lingers to this day. Please set up an appointment with me if you are struggling to find a topic or person to interview. Assignment Checklist: Focuses on a specific moment/episode in U.S. history Includes a thesis statement  Includes biographical information about your subject Includes a discussion of how your subject’s life intersects with the specific moment you choose.  Summarizes information from The American Yawp and/or other class materials that corresponds to the historical moment you choose.o Should be mostly in your own wordso Includes two proper citation, for example: (American Yawp) A three to four page essay with multiple paragraphsPlease let me know what sources you need from the era and I will provide the best I can.

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