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September 29: First class meeting
October 27: Research prospectus due
November 17: Last class meeting
December 12: Final paper due no later than 5PM. Submit to the instructor via e-mail.


Class Discussion . In small colloquia such as this one, consistent and respectful engagement in discussion is the key to your success. To receive high marks for discussion, you must be both a thoughtful commentator and a good listener. This is discussion, not oration; I grade on quality of commentary, not quantity. An “A”-range student comes to class with an understanding of the readings and how they relate to one another, and with discussion points already in mind. She actively and consistently contributes to discussion, but she also knows when to let others speak and responds to their comments with respect. Obviously, if you are not in class you cannot show off your mastery of the material and your penetrating analysis of the issues at hand; an unexcused absence will lower your class discussion mark by one third of a letter grade.

Discussion Questions. Posting substantive and thought-provoking questions to the online discussion board is an important component of your participation grade. It also is your opportunity to hone in on issues in the reading that you find particularly interesting and provocative, and for you and your peers to set our agenda for the day. Questions must be posted no later than 2:00PM on the day of class in order to allow your fellow students to read them in a timely fashion. You can post as early and as often as you like during the week, but you must post at least once prior to the deadline in order to receive credit from me.

Presentation on a Report Topic. You will sign up for two of these at our first class meeting; reports must be given on different weeks. The report should be a substantive and succinct oral presentation lasting no more than SEVEN minutes. It should tell your classmates the history of the person/place/thing, and should contextualize the topic within the issues and themes discussed in the class readings. You may prepare brief handouts or visual aids for your classmates if you feel they will add to your presentation, but they are not required. Please do not prepare electronic presentations. The report topic you choose should be presented during the week it is listed on the syllabus.


Your work in this class leads up to a final paper based on original research using primary documents found in UW Libraries’ Special Collections or other local archival collections. The paper should be a historical exploration of one part of the past or present landscape of metropolitan Puget Sound, relating its story to the themes discussed in the class. This paper is an exercise in discovering local history, but it also asks you to show how our local history reflects the greater economic, environmental, social, and political changes that shaped American urban and suburban development since the nineteenth century. Your chosen area of focus could be a neighborhood or town; residential, industrial, or commercial development; agricultural area; recreational space or natural amenity; piece of infrastructure; or other element of the natural or built environment. The two written components of this project are:

The Prospectus. This proposal should contain four parts:

  • A narrative (1-1½ pages, double-spaced) that presents the subject of your research project, its significance to course themes, and your key research questions;
  • A one-half page narrative that discusses the primary sources you expect to use for this study, including specific locations of these collections;
  • A draft outline of the paper; and
  • A bibliography that lists both secondary and primary sources you expect to use in this paper. Archival sources should include specific citations regarding collection location, series number, box numbers). All bibliographic citations should use Chicago style; points will be deducted for incomplete entries.

Note that you do not have to have already reached a research conclusion to write this prospectus; this simply explains WHAT you’ve decided to explore and YOUR PLAN for finding out the answers.

The Paper. This essay should be approximately 15 pages long, double-spaced, and include both footnotes and a bibliography. Notations should adhere to Chicago style. Research papers will be evaluated on the basis of:

  • clarity of argument and structure;
  • integration of local history with regional and national history;
  • effective use of a variety of primary historical documents (which could include internal administrative documents, speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, films and photographs); and
  • use of class readings as secondary sources.

Go to the navigation bar at left for more on my grading standards and strategies for conducting successful archival research.

All of you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of campus resources and to give yourselves time to draft and redraft your papers. History Librarian Theresa Mudrock, who prepared this course’s library research guide, is available to talk to you about primary and secondary resources that may help you research and write about your chosen topic. The History Writing Center can be an excellent resource for feedback on style, organization, and content of your writing assignments. I strongly encourage you to make an appointment with its advisors.

A NOTE ON TIME MANAGEMENT: We will not have class the final two weeks of the quarter so that you can complete research and writing of the final paper. Don’t wait until the last minute to familiarize yourself with the archives and your primary sources. You should count on visiting any archives you use at least twice: once to submit requests for files from storage, and a second time to read through requested files and take notes. I have high expectations for this paper, which should reflect extensive original research and feature well-organized writing and cogent analysis. An early start is crucial to the success of this project.