Top History Research Paper Topics

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A Brief History

From 1993 to 2001, The Best College Football Player ESPY Award was presented annually to the collegiate American football player adjudged to be the best in the United States in a given calendar year.   Running back Gerard Garrison Hearst (born 1971), playing for the University of Georgia, was the first winner of this historic award.  History, including the history of college football, is one of the most interesting subjects students study.  Human history spans back thousands of years. Due to this fact, there is a huge range of eras and subjects to choose from. Trying to narrow down a particular subject and topic can be difficult.

Digging Deeper

With such a long period, and a multitude of different subjects, how can you pick one topic to study? Fear not, we can help! In the text below, we have created a list of top history research paper topics. Using these custom topics, you can create awesome history papers.

The American Civil Rights Movement

The 1963 March on Washington participants and leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.  Photograph by Rowland Scherman (1937–).

People such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks helped push forward the American civil rights movement. This movement is one of the most important eras of modern history and helped provide African American minorities with greater rights and equality. There is a wealth of information available, and the whole movement was highly documented. This creates an excellent academic subject and has fantastic scope for writers.

World War II

German advance into Belgium and Northern France, 10 May-4 June 1940, swept past the Maginot Line (shown in dark red).  Map by Paul Siebert.

World War II remains the deadliest conflict in human history. That in itself provides scope for a series of professional college papers. When you delve deeper into the conflict, however, there are literally hundreds of different topics to pick. You could, for example, concentrate on a series of specific battles such as the Russian front. Alternatively, you could look at military generals and strategy. To make things easier, there is a plethora of online material you can use as research.

The American Civil War

Map of Confederate territory losses year by year.  Map by the Office of the Chief of Military History, United States Army – American Military History, Army Historical Series Perry-Castañeda Library Map of the Civil War 1861-1865 Map Collection.

As far as important historical events go, The American Civil War is certainly the most important in the countries short history. This war changed the very fabric and makeup of the country. The North and South fought in various theatres for control of the country – each side had different political and cultural ideologies with the central theme being the enslavement of black people.

The rise and fall of the Roman Empire

Animated map of the Roman Republic and Empire between 510 BC and 530 AD.  Map by Roke (d).

The Roman Empire was one of the largest in the world. In antiquity, Rome was the center of the universe. It was a cultural haven. Emperors ruled over vast swathes of land throughout Asia and Europe. Furthermore, epic battles and campaigns were fought to vie for control of whole countries. This is certainly an interesting subject. Remember that you could hire an online research paper writer to help with subjects such as these. The Roman Empire spans a large time period, and thus, additional help could be required.

The Cold War Arms Race

United States and Soviet Union/Russia nuclear weapon stockpiles.  Map created by User:Fastfission first by mapping the lines using’s Calc program, then exporting a graph to SVG, and the performing substantial aesthetic modifications in Inkscape.

After World War II, tensions soothed and the world had peace.  This peace was temporary, however. New major world powers emerged, vying for control and notability – the United States, Russia, and China. Various different de-factor conflicts arose as a result, such as the Vietnam War. Furthermore, each major power poured huge funds into developing their military branches and weapons of mass destruction.

A history of the Crusades

First editions (publ. Cambridge University Press)

During the Middle Ages, major powers in Europe embarked upon a number of religious crusades. These crusades had the aim of introducing Christianity to the Middle East and retaking the holy city of Jerusalem. This period of ancient history is truly interesting – there is a myriad of different crusades to study. Moreover, you can look at feudal states in Europe, and the different leaders who gathered their forces to journey to the holy land.

Black Death in Medieval Europe

Spread of the Black Death in Europe and the Near East (1346–1353).  Map by Flappiefh.

Another fascinating period of Medieval Europe that provides excellent topics is the outbreak of the Plague. The Black Death remains the most devastating pandemic in human history. It is estimated that 75 to 200 million people died as a result of the plague in Eurasia during the 12th and 14th centuries. For history topics, students can look at the origins of the plague, how it spread across Europe, and how medieval doctors attempted to cure this fatal disease.

US Presidents

Portrait of George Washington (1732–99) by Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828).

The United States has an intriguing history. One aspect of US history that provides excellent subjects for papers is US Presidents. Each US President has brought something different and changed the makeup of the country. From George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln, to Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama – there is so much potential research material.

The Space Race

The Soviet Union achieved an early lead in the Space Race by launching the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 (replica shown) in 1957.  Photograph by NASA.

For decades, humans have tried to travel into the stars and explore space. This effort provides an interesting historical subject to study. From the 1950s and onwards, we have achieved some magnificent feats – Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, for example, in 1969. The space race saw different world powers pouring money into the development of their space programs.

Best college football players ever

Hearst with Georgia in 1991.  Photograph by Rod Hayes.

College football is a fantastic subject to study and is one of the most popular sports in the United States and has created some magnificent athletes. Looking at the best college football players ever provides a myriad of interesting historical topics.

Hopefully, your head is now bursting with awesome ideas for history papers. As you can see, there is a myriad of different subjects – from the best college football players of all time to World War II, and the Space Race. The above topics are just a small sample of the ideas you can utilize – if you take time, there are literally hundreds of useful subjects to choose from.  Question for students (and subscribers): What topics have you used for college history essays?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Kelleher Storey, William.  Writing History: A Guide for Students.  Oxford University Press, 2015.

The Editors of Sports IllustratedSports Illustrated College Football’s Greatest (Sports Illustrated Greatest).  Sports Illustrated, 2016.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Rod Hayes of University of Georgia’s Eric Zeier (jersey #10) running the option with teammate Garrison Hearst (jersey #5) against the Kentucky Wildcats, is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.


About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland