Possible Topics for English 3 Research Papers


Events and Issues in American History Which Involved Controversy:


Zoot Suit Riots—(1943) Riots in Southern California in which Mexican youth were beaten


Women’s’ Suffrage Movement—choose particular leaders, events, legislation


Salem witch trials--The Salem witch trials (also known as the Salem witch hunt) resulted in a number of convictions and executions for witchcraft in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts.


Child Labor Laws in the U.S.-- Child labor law reform began in the 1910s


Sacco and Vanzetti—two anarchists who were convicted of a robbery and two murders ( many felt unfairly) in the early 1920s


Raza Unida—(United Hispanic People’s Party) Chicano political party founded in 1971


The Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case—a court case involving an American couple who were executed in 1953 as spies for the Soviet Union


Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)—What would it have provided?  Why did it not pass?


Hollywood Blacklisting in the 1950s: The House Un-American Activites Committee; The Hollywood 10—key issues? key people?


Prohibition—during the 1920s, the law prohibiting the sale of alcohol


Jim Crow Laws—refers to the laws that required racial segregation


Scopes Trial—the trial of a high school teacher in Tennessee in 1925 for teaching the theory of evolution in violation of state law


The Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war—very topical today in light of Abu Ghraib allegations


The Internment of Japanese Americans during WWI:  Why did the U.S. put its own citizens in camps?  What were the results?


Integration of Little Rock High School  (1957)—What was its importance in the Civil Rights Movement?


Montgomery Bus Boycott--The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political protest campaign started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama intended to oppose the city's policy of racial segregation on its public transit system.


President Truman bans race bias in military and Federal Civil Service  (1948)


Three Mile Island--The accident at the Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania, on March 28, 1979, was the most serious in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history


Underground railroad—a secret network of people who helped slaves from the South escape to Canada or to northern free states


The Black Sox Scandal--The 1919 World Series resulted in the most famous scandal in baseball history. Eight players from the Chicago White Sox (later nicknamed the Black Sox) were accused of throwing the series against the Cincinnati Reds.


American Indian Reservation System--The U.S. policy of creating reservations for Native Americans was established during the Presidential administration of Ulysses S. Grant in the late 1860s in response to the perceived "Indian problem" of growing conflicts between U.S. settlers and Native American tribes in the West.


Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki--On August 6, 1945 the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay, a U.S. Air Force B-29 bomber


The Scottsboro Trials --No crime in American history-- let alone a crime that never occurred-- produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on the Southern Railroad freight run from Chattanooga to Memphis on March 25, 1931.


The Berkeley Student Revolt/The Free Speech Movement--The Free Speech Movement was a student protest that began on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley in 1964 under the informal leadership of student Mario Savio and others


The Shootings at Kent State--The Kent State shootings, also known as the Kent State massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The altercation killed four students and wounded nine others.


Triangle Shirtwaist Fire—fire in a NYC factory in 1911 in which all 146 factory workers were killed—led to the passage of many improved

municipal building codes and the enactment of stricter state factory inspection acts


Benedict Arnold: The most infamous traitor in American History, Benedict Arnold was willing to betray West Point and more to further his own ends.


Teapot Dome Scandal: One of the first striking public examples of government corruption, Teapot Dome cast light on the ability of governmental officials to line their own pockets.


Haymaker Riot: The Haymarket Riot occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, when police broke up a workers' demonstration organized by alleged anarchists.


Miscellaneous Topics


Fashion in various decades—how did the fashion reflect the time period?


The Amish, Menonite, or Quaker religions in the U.S.


Various Native American Tribes—concentrate on a tribe’s culture, e.g. religion, family life, arts, etc.


Peace Corps- established in 1961 by the U.S. government to send American volunteers abroad to help meet the needs of developing countries for trained manpower


Pulitzer Prize—Named after? When created?  Who is honored?  Any controversies?


National Organization of Women—NOW


Rosie the Riveter—role of women on the Home Front during WWII


Navajo Code talkers of WWII--The Navajo code is the most famous unbroken code in the history of secrecy.

Harlem Renaissance- during the 1920s a great upsurge in Black literature, music and theater which centered in Harlem, a neighborhood of Manhattan, NY—choose key figures to investigate


WPA—a program of the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s which provided jobs for many people who could not find work building sidewalks, government buildings and other similar public works projects throughout the U.S.


The Triple Crown in horse racing: The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, Belmont Stakes


The Ford Foundation or the Carnegie Foundation—When and why  created? Who benefits?


The Sullivan Law- When and why passed?  Use today?


The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire


The Great Chicago Fire of 1871—Mrs. O’Leary’s cow?


Development of Fast Food Restaurants- Ray Kroc, McDonald’s


Project Head Start- When established?  Purpose? Future?


Miss America Pageant—when did it start?  Evolution of?


Founding of the University of California System


Founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)


The Cotton Club (a famous nightclub in Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s


The Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York


Various Political Parties through American history:

 e.g.  The Green Party, The Whigs, The Populist Party, the Reform Party, Independent Party etc. 

Focus on when and why party originated, people affiliated with the party and the impact of the party on U.S. politics.


U.S Astronauts land on the moon (1969)


Social Security Act (1935)


The Fulbright Program ( an educational exchange program):  When created?  Purpose?  Participants?


The 1903 first World Series of baseball


Founding of the National Baseball League or the American Baseball League


Baseball Parks:  e.g. Shea Stadium, Fenway Park


Development of labor unions:

                International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union

                Industrial Workers of the World

                United Auto Workers

                Sweat Shops

                Pullman Strike

                Taft-Hartley Act restricting strike activity


Creation of Credit Cards in U.S.


National Minimum Wage Law of 1938


Great Depression “Shanty Towns”


Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” Broadcast of 1938


Food Rationing during WWII


National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)


Mt. St. Helens  volcanic eruption 1980


The Ziegfeld Follies:   famous theatrical production of songs, dance and skits from 1907 to 1930s


Ringling Bros. and  Barnum and Bailey Circuses


Roger Maris sets the single-season home run record with 61 homers


Hubble Space Telescope sent into space—what is current status of the Hubble Telescope?


Victory Gardens in WWII


The birth of suburbia in the U.S.


Woodstock Festival 1969


Places and Structures

Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island

Golden Gate Bridge

Hearst Castle

Mount Rushmore

The White House

Trail of Tears

Empire State Bldg. in New York, The Kaiser Building, The Crysler Building

Brooklyn Bridge

Griffith Observatory

Arlington Cemetery—military burials


People: Concentrate on the person’s contribution to society


Louis Armstrong—famous trumpeter who was one of the first great jazz improvisers


James Baldwin—American author noted for books on racial conflict in U.S.


Irving Berlin—famous American songwriter


Mary McLeod Bethune—a leader in Black education, a founder of black women’s organizations, and a civil rights leader


Margaret Bourke-White-- a pioneer in photojournalism.


Mathew Brady—one of America’s most important documentary photographers especially famous for his photos of the Civil War


Andrew Carnegie—a dominant figure in the U.S. steel industry, an entrepreneur and philanthropist—Carnegie Library in Oxnard is name for him


Charlie Chaplin—one of the most brilliant comic actors in movie history


Annie Clemenc—leader in the struggle for  workers’ rights


Roberto Clemente—Born in Puerto Rico, he was one of the great baseball players of all time


Dorothy Day—U. S. social reformer, journalist, and founder of the Catholic Worker movement


Joe DiMaggio—baseball player and one of the most popular of all American athletes


Frederick Douglass—former slave who became an orator, writer, and leader in the anti-slavery movement of the early nineteenth century.


W.E.B. Bois—Black author and teacher of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founder of the N.A.A.C.P.


Isadora Duncan--a pioneer of modern dance, she devoted her life to creating new dances that expressed the beauty of nature and the mysteries of the human spirit


Bob Dylan—his songs about the need for social change sparked a folk music revival during the 1960s and 1970s and left a lasting influence on many types of music in the decades that followed


Roy Campanella-- the award-winning catcher whose baseball career was cut short by an accident which left him partially paralyzed.


Miles Davis-- noted jazz trumpeter who got his start with Charlie Parker's quintet and gained fame performing at the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1955.


Ella Fitzgerald—well-known jazz singer


Clarence Birdseye—founder of frozen food industry


James Farmer—civil rights leader


Lou Gehrig—baseball player of the 19th century who set a world record for the major leagues by playing in over 2000 consecutive games


Woody Guthrie--a folk singer and songwriter who represents the quintessential folk poet


William Randolph Hearst—journalist and newspaper publisher in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was a pioneer in the kind of sensational reporting often called Yellow Journalism.


Alger Hiss—an official of the State Department who, in 1948, was accused by a former Communist of having been a secret agent for the soviet Union during the 1930s


Grace Hopper—Navy admiral and computer pioneer


Langston Hughes—a poet and writer whose extensive literary output realistically depicted the life of black Americans.


Jesse James—an outlaw of the 19th century


Mother Jones--A widowed dressmaker who lost her possessions in the Chicago Fire (1871), she committed herself to the labor movement during the 1870s and began to travel the country organizing unions


Dorthea Lange—famous photographer


Charles Lindbergh—Aviator who flew alone from NYC to Paris across the Atlantic

Ocean nonstop in The Spirit of Saint Louis


Joe Louis—reigned as heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1937 through 1949


Joseph McCarthy—The U.S. senator who, in the 1950s, attacked alleged Communist subversion within the administrations of Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower


Julia Morgan--the architect whose projects included designing the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, California.


Edward R. Murrow—legendary radio and television newspaper reporter


Carrie Nation—a social reformer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who argued for the abstinence from alcohol


Robert Oppenheimer—led the World War II project to build the first atomic bomb


Georgia O’Keefe--the noted American artist who found much of her artistic inspiration in nature, especially the desert landscape of the Southwest.


Jesse Owens-- the track and field star who won three gold medals in the 1936 Summer Olympic Games.


Linus Pauling—one of the most important American scientists of the 20th century


Wilma Rudolph--the woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton—a radical activist for women’s rights


Jonas Salk—The microbiologist who  developed the first vaccine effective against polio.


Charles Schultz—creator of “Peanuts” comic strip:  where did he get his ideas?  importance of the “Peanuts” strip to the world of comics?


Magaret Sanger—coined the term birth control and was a pioneer of the birth control movement in the United States


Sitting Bull—a great Sioux leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota group who helped defeat Gen. George Custer at the Little Bighorn


Ida Tarbell—called “Joan of Arc” of the oil regions for her expose of the monopolistic business practices of Standard Oil Co.


Sojourner Truth—first Black woman to reach large audiences with her abolitionist and feminist messages


Madam C.J. Walker--Afro-American businesswoman whose invention of facial creams and other cosmetics led to great financial success and who, throughout her life, devoted herself to many social and political causes.


Frank Lloyd Wright—world famous American architect


Babe Didrikson Zaharias-- widely considered the greatest woman athlete of the 20th century.


Famous Indian Chiefs


Jim Henson and the development of the Sesame Street Muppets

1927—The Jazz Singer—1st talking film


1927 Lindberg’s solo flight across U.S.


History of the Draft/Selective Service


1960-Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins


1965—Race Riots in Watts, L.A.


1909—Beginning of NAACP


1955-- Montgomery Bus Boycott


1957—Little Rock Nine integrated Central High School


1962—James Meredith entered University of Mississippi


1963—March on Washington


History of the Teddy Bear


1894—Development of the corn flake/ W.K. Kellog Co.


Development of Morse Code


History of the Post Office


History of Coca Cola Company


Great Chicago Fire


Creation of Disneyland


Development of billboard advertising


Kent State Massacre


Assassination of John Lennon


Riots after Rodney King verdict


Oklahoma City Bombing


Athletes:  Moe Berg, Satchel Paige

                Mickey Mantle, Jim Thorpe


Fashion/Cosmetics: Elizabeth Arden, Mary Kay, Coco Channel


Western heroes/badmen:  Wyatt Earp, Jesse James,   Dalton Gang