William W. Cutler
Spring 2008
Gladfelter Hall 855
MW 2:40-4:00
215-204-7755 Office Hours
wcutler@temple.edu Wednesday 1:00-2:00 & Thursday 2:00-4:00


Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to teach you how to design a research project in American history, carry out a program of investigation, and write a paper based on your findings.  It is my expectation that by the end of the semester you will have learned to: (1) collect and organize historical data; (2) employ both primary and secondary sources to construct a historical argument; (3) use analytical concepts and theory; (4) write with clarity and precision; (5) use standard methods of historical citation; (6) use the library and the Internet as research as sources.

Students in this course may choose to work on any topic in American history. But to give more focus to the course and make our work as a group more productive, I hope most students will select a topic in one of the following topical areas: (a) Philadelphia history (b) the history of American education (c) the history of childhood and adolescence in the United States.

Paley Library offers the historical researcher many resources. It has a large collection of relevant books and periodicals. If Paley does not own what you need, there is an interlibrary loan department that can borrow books and articles for you from other institutions. On our library's web site you will find electronic finding aids that will help you search for primary and secondary sources. The library also has a host of special departments and collections, including the Scholars Information Center, the Government Documents Collection, the Micro Materials Department, the Blockson Collection, and the Urban Archives.    You may decide to use at least some of these to develop our bibliography and/or to find original documents that may unavailable elsewhere. 

Course Routine

Because History 4296 is a writing seminar, there will be no lectures in this course; class time will consist mainly of group work and discussion.  We will explore your topics together and  share thoughts about the conduct of research.  But you will do much of your work for this course on your own.  On any given day in class, you might be: helping one another consider how best to answer a particular historical question; explaining your topic to others in the class; relating your work to that of others in the class; or thinking out loud about how best to organize your research findings in oral or written form.  However, you will also spend many solitary hours in the library or online, tracking down information about your topic in a range of secondary and primary sources.


Because this class is a writing seminar in which students learn from one another, attendance is mandatory.  Unexcused absences will be noted.  More than two will result in an automatic reduction in your final grade.  The following standard will be used: three or four unexcused absences -- one third of a grade; more than four unexcused absences -- one full grade; more than four unexcused absences -- failure of the course.

Course Requirements and Grading

Required Reading

Supplementary Reading

Schedule of Classes