Notes on Writing History

— Notes —

THE HISTORY STUDENT’S HANDBOOK

A Short Guide to Writing History Essays © 2009, Department of History, University of Calgary

Preparing a Proposal

  • What is your topic and how is it defined (thematically, chronologically)?
  • What is/are your principal research question(s) and why?
  • What is your hypothesis or preliminary answer to research question(s)?
  • Why is your project interesting and important?
  • What do you expect your reader to learn from your project?
  • What sources are you going to use? Why are these the best sources?
  • Is there a methodology you are applying and, if so, why is it appropriate?
  • What preliminary conclusions have you formed?

 

My response:

The paper takes place between 1955 and 1960 and tells the story of the U.S. space program during this period.  The setting is during a time when the U.S. was in its initial stages of building the space program.  The story follows the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the start of their respective technocratic ages and traces history up until the creation of NASA.

The purpose of the book is to trace history during this period and find what actors and agents effectively altered the space program.  From sitting Senator Johnson to sitting President Eisenhower, von Braun and various scientists and military actors, the story traces each perception of the events and how events unfold.

The main argument the story makes is how Johnson thought the US was behind in space nationally defensively and thought the space program should beat the Russians.  Eisenhower was not alarmed by Sputnik and did not want the space and national defense fields to mingle.  Johnson was a true visionary for humankind’s future in space while Eisenhower viewed human spaceflight as a futuristic military venture.

I use quantitative methods such as plotting and text modeling.  I use graphs, tables, and images.  The sources are mostly primary with some secondary sources.  The time period covered for the sources are 1955-1960.