Let’s see, for your Ancient History 101 course, your topics so far look like this:
- The history of the landline phone
- Life before the Internet
- A world without Snapchat
Even though these topics might seem like ancient history, they’re probably not what your course is about or what your professor had in mind when she assigned the paper.
But what is there to write about in any history course? That stuff is so old and boring, right? Not necessarily. Here are 13 history essay topics to bring your essay to life.
But wait…I don’t know how to write a history paper
Maybe you’re not even at the point where you should be picking a topic just yet. Maybe you still need to understand more about how to write a history paper.
If that’s the case, check out How to Write a History Paper That Will Go Down in History. Then finish reading this post to learn more about finding a topic and see those 13 history essay topics you came here for.
13 History Essay Topics That Will Bring Your Essay to Life
Here are 13 history essay topics to help you find the perfect subject for your paper. I’ve also included a few links to example essays for even more historical inspiration!
1. How did Homer influence history (and literature), and did he really exist? No, I don’t mean Homer Simpson. I mean the ancient poet, Homer. But if you’re really creative and your professor allows some flexibility in assignments, maybe you can write a compare and contrast paper about how both Homers have influenced history.
2. Examine Hitler’s rise to power. You might consider several elements of Adolf Hitler’s childhood and early adulthood that influenced his desire for power. You might also write about larger, societal influences and what allowed Hitler to become so powerful.
3. Compare and contrast religions. Examine two (or more) religions and compare and contrast various elements, such as how they treat death, the afterlife, or marriage. I’d suggest picking two to three topics and examining them in-depth. Don’t try to compare the religions as a whole without any specific criteria.
You might also examine one religion more closely (such as Buddhism, Confucianism, or Christianity) and examine how the religion is different in various parts of the world. Again, pick two to three criteria to compare and/or contrast.
Read Compare and Contrast Essay Tips from a Kibin Editor to learn more about writing a compare and contrast essay.
4. Were the Dark Ages really that dark? The Dark Ages were long before the days without cell phones and Internet. During this time, millions died from war and sickness, but this was also a time of great ideas and discoveries. Thus, is the name “Dark Ages” an appropriate title for the time period?
5. Examine historical myths and legends. Did people like Count Dracula or Robin Hood exist, or were they simply subjects of great legends (and movies)?
Remember, if you’re writing an argument about whether they really existed, you’ll need to present evidence to support your argument but will also need to address the counterargument.
Read How to Write a Winning Argument Essay to learn more about argument writing.
6. Examine the causes and effects of the Cold War. What were the underlying causes of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union? What were the effects of the Cold War on the United States, the Soviet Union, or other parts of the world?
If you want to write about the Cold War, you could also write about the events that precipitated the ending of the Cold War.
Read this tip sheet on cause and effect papers for more help with this type of essay.
7. Examine the causes and effects of China’s one-child policy. Why did China implement a one-child policy, and what effect did this have on the country and its citizens? (Note: In 2015, the government began to phase out the one-child policy. Why was this necessary?)
8. Argue that there are positive effects of war. Most argue that there are only negative results of war. However, some argue that war produces positive changes in culture and encourages patriotism. (You might examine war in general or focus your argument on a specific war.)
9. Compare the Salem Witch Trials to another historical event. The era of the Salem Witch Trials was a time of fear and paranoia. Compare this time period to other times of hysteria, such as The Red Scare or the months following the September 11 terror attacks.
10. Examine the war on drugs throughout history. The war on drugs isn’t a recent phenomenon. Examine the use, influence, and prosecution of drugs throughout history.
You could chronicle the more recent developments of the war on drugs (the past 20–30 years), or you might try another angle and consider opium use and trade in China or the use and cultivation of spiritual and medicinal plants in Native American culture.
11. Argue how a specific invention changed history. This type of paper might examine inventions, such as electricity, television, the phone, or the personal computer. Or the paper might focus on medical discoveries, such as the polio vaccine or penicillin.
12. How has feminism either positively or negatively changed society? This type of paper might present both positive and negative aspects or examine only positive or only negative influences. You might focus your discussion on one society or compare and contrast different regions or countries.
13. Examine the historical significance of the number 13. Why is 13 considered an unlucky number in the United States? Some trace the unlucky origins back to the Bible. Others point to mythology. You might examine the number’s origin and why the number is still considered unlucky today (think Friday the 13th).
But wait…I don’t know anything about any of these history essay topics
You probably know something about some of these history essay topics, but maybe not enough to write a successful paper. This simply means that you’ll need to do some research.
Locating a variety of resources, including primary and secondary sources, will help you turn the boring textbook stuff into a more lively and interesting read.
If you need even more help with research, check out these posts:
Ready to share your draft and have the Kibin editors provide feedback? Send it our way!
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This is such an interesting assignment! What I do not know is the kind of course you are writing this essay for or what text sources you might be expected to focus on. No matter what, you will probably want to focus on whether or not legends reflect history.
Discussing this issue means focusing on particular texts and particular history, since this is not something you can discuss in just general terms. To show that legends do or do not reflect history means that you must have examples of particular texts and examples of particular periods of history. Two legends that might be worthy of consideration are the legends of King Arthur or Beowulf. Both of these are part of particular periods of English history, and you will need to not only familiarize yourself with the legends you want to discuss, but also you will need to do some research on these historical periods.
Then you need to ask yourself whether there or not there is any evidence that the people described ever existed and whether or not the events described actually happened. To find out, you need to find out if there are any historical accounts of people and events. And you will probably want to find out if there is any archaeological record to show the characters from the legends or the events described.
Even supposing there is no historical evidence of these particular people and events, legends might still offer us glimpses of history, how people lived, what they ate, how they dressed, and what the customs were. Often it is possible to find sources that show that the legends are "historical" in this way. Alternatively, there might be historical evidence that shows the legends as being completely inaccurate in this way. For example, was the technology available to make the armor for those knights during the period King Arthur was supposed to have reigned? Or did someone come along afterwards and write these stories when such technology did exist? When we see a detail like this in a story, we call it an anachronism. An example of that might be a microwave appearing in a movie that takes place in 1940. Anachronisms show us that a work is historically unauthentic.
This is really very much like a compare and contrast assignment, I think. You are going to be examining how legends are different from and similar to history. Do your research, and try that approach. I hope you enjoy this assignment. I know I would!