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1. Think of a topic you are interested in in American history within the period 1865-2010 (preferably
one you would like to know more about).
2. Locate 2-3 tertiary sources to gain a broad overview of your topic. Tertiary sources are encyclopedias
(including Wikipedia), dictionaries, as well as some periodicals and articles in publication for broad
audiences like Time magazine or The Atlantic. These resources can help you gain a better
understanding about your topic but are not scholarly or considered to be completely accurate
because the sources have not undergone what is called a peer review. Peer review is a process where
two or more scholars within a field critique an article or manuscript before it is published—thereby
vetting the accuracy and credibility of the source.
3. Once you have a broader understanding of your topic, write two research questions. Your research
questions should be historical in nature and specific. Avoid vague questions like “what is the history
of farming?” A research question should include a geographic location, a time frame, and offer some
complexity. For example: It is interesting that a historical era, like the Gilded Age, derived its name
from popular and satirical American author Mark Twain. How and why are popular writers
influential in historical periodization in modern United States history?
4. FORMAT: Use Times New Roman 12-point font, double-space between questions and list the
tertiary sources you used. Format the identification of the tertiary sources using the Chicago Manual
of Style. To access this reference book, sign into the EOU Library, then search “Chicago Manual of
Style,” access the electronic version of the manual and look up the formatting guidelines for
Bibliography entries. For example:
Topic: Identification of Historical Periods
Question 1: Here is my first question.
Question 2: Here is my second question.
Tertiary sources used:
New World Encyclopedia, (accessed January 4, 2021),
Quirk, T. V. “Mark Twain.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Invalid Date.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 14, 2021),