Best History Research Topics

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Dec 6, 2019

One word can describe history: inexhaustible. The many events that occurred throughout the past millennia—or even just the past few years—constitute the large library that is “history.” This subject is not just about memorizing dates and names; in fact, it is far beyond that. It takes rigorous understanding and a serious mindset, as just the start, to appreciate history.

This rigor is what embodies a history research paper. At some point, college students will be asked to write one that is comprehensive and insightful. This means a lot more than just stating what happened: why and how it happened, what it meant at the time of its occurrence, what it means today, and the impact in the long run, are a few among many other questions that can start off an incisive discussion on a historical event. So, even if we were able to gather every event, from the most significant down to the most trivial, and collect everything in a single book, it is still not enough to encapsulate the essence of history.

Such an innumerable list, however, can lead the college student to ask: “Where do I begin with my history research paper, then?” Having a brief listing of history research paper topics for college students will help, definitely—in fact, it is a must. In addition, college students should concern themselves with interesting history research topics, ones that would pique their interest and give them a sincere reason to research.

Though doing this is somewhat an oversimplification, having a brief list of the best history research topics as a guide is a great start to your history research. If you are struggling to look for a topic for your history research paper, do not panic—we boiled down a list of history research paper topics for college students to help you.

Before kicking off this list of the best history research topics is a simple classification: topics by region and topics by subject. While these may not necessarily capture all of history, starting from this will help you greatly as a start. Rest assured, too, as under each group are some interesting history research topics for you to tackle.

By Region

You can start searching for a history research topic by looking through a specific region in the world. Each country and continent is rife with possibilities for historical discussion. For this list of the best history research topics, we listed down particularly interesting topics that are easy to research and discuss in your paper, each grouped to a particular region.

Best World History Topics

History is a highly complex network, with each element so inextricably linked with one another that you cannot isolate a single event in history and hope to sufficiently by itself. Hence, no list of the best history research topics goes without at least some brief listing of events that shook much of the world.

  1. What were the factors that led to the 2008 economic crisis?
  2. What was the earliest recorded civilization in history?
  3. When did the last ice age take place?
  4. Which primitive tribes still persist today?
  5. Has there ever been a worldwide golden age?
  6. What was the use of the Rosetta Stone created?
  7. How did the early Europeans and early Asians first interact with each other?
  8. What was the impact of the Code of Hammurabi in today’s current notion of legislation?
  9. How did early business and trade work?
  10. What were the earliest forms of historical documentation and how did they evolve throughout the ages?

Best US History Topics

Considered as a “global superpower,” the United States of America is the forefront for numerous historic events in the world. From internal affairs to foreign interventions, the US has proven to be a notable presence in history and to be deserving of a notable spot in any list of the best history research topics.

  1. Why did Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate former US President John F. Kennedy? 
  2. What were Abraham Lincoln’s contributions as President to American society?
  3. Who were the figureheads of the abolitionist movement in the 19th century?
  4. How was the Declaration of Independence approved?
  5. What were Christopher Columbus’ observations when he first landed in the Americas?
  6. How did the Amistad Slave Rebellion contribute to the abolitionist movement?
  7. Why was the Ku Klux Klan created?
  8. How did North America divide into 50 states?
  9. What happened to the Native Americans when the first colonizers arrived?
  10. What were Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions toward the abolition of modern-day racism?

Best European History Topics

Consisting of multiple countries, each with an abundance of riveting tales across the ages, Europe is an excellent source of historical research and deserves to be a subject that is worth discussing in any list of the best history research topics. 

  1. How did the bubonic plague cause millions of deaths in the 14th century?
  2. What were the reasons behind the Crusades?
  3. What was the impact of Ferdinand Magellan’s journey across the world?
  4. How did the Atlantic slave trade operate?
  5. How did the European countries colonize nearly all of Africa in the early 19th to 20th century?
  6. How did the Holy Roman Empire become one of the largest empires in the world?
  7. What led Martin Luther to write his “95 Reasons”?
  8. What were the factors that caused the French Revolution?
  9. What led to the Fall of Rome?
  10. What was the impact of Leonardo da Vinci’s works on Europe as a whole?

Best Asian History Topics

The Eastern hemisphere shares its own wealth of historic events, thanks to the diversity of culture that varigates across its countries and, even more so, to its eventual influence across the world. For one to make a list of the best history research topics is to include Asian history, as it can be an avenue for interesting history paper topics for college students to read up on and write about.

  1. What was China’s last dynasty and how did it transition to becoming the Republic of China?
  2. How was Thailand the only Asian country that was never colonized?
  3. In World War II, Which countries were aligned with the Axis powers? Allied powers?
  4. How did China’s three classical moral systems (Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism) evolve throughout the centuries?
  5. How did Korea become divided into North Korea and South Korea?
  6. What did Japan do to recover from their devastating loss in World War II?
  7. How did Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Empire grow to become one of the biggest in the world?
  8. How did Mahatma Gandhi help liberate India from England?
  9. What were the factors that led to China and India becoming the two most populated countries in the world?
  10. What led to Singapore becoming an economic superpower?

The best history research topics in 2020, sorted by subject.

By subject

Another effective way to search for the best history research topics is by subject. With many advancements that took place in history, you will always find something to talk about with culture and politics, for instance. In addition, these can also help you better appreciate how the things that are today have developed from how they were when they first came about.

Best Topics on Culture

Memes, viral videos, lingo—many trends of culture are fleeting. However, some adamantly remain throughout time. These are, often, cultural movements that attempt to make an impact on society, primarily because of a recurring injustice but sometimes because of other agendas. The current fact of their existence, along with the ever-changing cultural climate, deserves attention and a spot in the list of best history research topics to make a paper about.

  1. Where did LGBTQ+ pride first begin in the United States?
  2. Has the Fat Acceptance Movement maintained relevance over the years?
  3. What is the “fourth wave” of Feminism?
  4. How did “Black Lives Matter” start garnering relevance?
  5. Why was the notion of “meninism” conceived?
  6. How did Nazism persist through “Neo-nazism”?
  7. How did “baby boomers” affect the cultural landscape for the succeeding generations?
  8. Is “All Lives Matter” a legitimate movement?
  9. When did “millennials” start predominantly setting trends for mainstream culture?
  10. Did Islamophobia originate from America?

Best Topics on Media

The current norms of society shape its perception of reality. Media enforces such norms through widespread propagation: newspapers, TV news reports, online journalism, and so on. How it does so lies in how it disseminates information of said phenomena, whether in the supposed pursuit of objectivity or of an agenda. Hence, media serves as a powerful force in society and a noteworthy addition to any list of the best history research topics.

  1. What was the impact of Facebook on journalism since its creation in 2004?
  2. Did the advent of the Internet supersede the purpose of newspapers?
  3. Andrew Wakefield is responsible for the currently on-going anti-vaccination sentiments across the world. How did his controversial experiment gain that much attention?
  4. How did online shopping sites such as Amazon and eBay affect consumer culture?
  5. What was the first TV news channel in the United States?
  6. When was the most recent national emergency broadcast in America?
  7. How did journalists cover World War I and World War II?
  8. How was the popularity of newspapers influenced by the advent of TV news?
  9. What were the earliest instances of “fake news” that caused long-term effects?
  10. When did US journalism become politically charged for the first time?

Best Topics on Technology

One of the cornerstones of current mainstream culture is technological innovation. With so many breakthroughs that took place within the span of a few decades, it leads us to wonder how they all came to be. Thus, a list of the best history research topics would involve the field of technology and how it progressed over time.

  1. The upcoming Tesla Cybertruck is receiving mixed responses for its design. How has general car aesthetic evolved over the decades?
  2. Ever since the release of the first iteration of the iPhone, how did Apple revolutionize mobile technology across the world?
  3. How did wireless technology become commercially available?
  4. Was the “space race” a prominent stepping stone for the progression of space travel?
  5. What job opportunities did the rise of Internet technology create and, likewise, destroy?
  6. What was the impact of the invention of trains in travelling and the transportation of goods?
  7. Did the invention of automated machines affect job opportunities in the factory industry?
  8. How did the current mobile phone technology develop from Alexander Graham Bell’s original telephone design?
  9. When was solar power invented and how widely was it used back then?
  10. What was the first water-powered machine?

Best Topics on History and War

German philosopher Immanuel Kant once said that conflict is the “engine of history.” What he meant is that war is what causes progression in society, as competition is what leads us to be better over time. War does, indeed, cause change—both for better or for worse, however. In any case, topics in war deserve to be part of any list of the best history research topics.

  1. Why did the Spanish-American War in 1898 happen?
  2. What were the factors that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis?
  3. Why did the US drop Fat Man and Little Boy on Japan?
  4. How was Soviet Russia a threat to Nazi Germany in World War II?
  5. Why did America join the Vietnam War?
  6. How did the countries align themselves as “Axis” and “Allied” in World War II?
  7. Would the Cuban Missile Crisis have caused another world war?
  8. Was the United States’ “war on terror” in Afghanistan justified?
  9. How did Nazi Germany lose in World War II?
  10. How did the Korean War end?

Best Topics on Politics

Just as impactful—often, even more so—as the movements of citizens is the political bodies entrusted to govern them and pursue the “good.” History shows that politics has been the impetus of both progress and conflict, with further inspection implicating the definition of the “good” as innumerably defined by the prominent political figures of the past. This matter alone, among many other concerns, allows politics to be deserving of a spot in the list of best history research topics.

  1. The controversial Article 13, proposed by the European Union, is said to risk the openness and fair use that are fostered in the Internet. What other law proposals similarly risked the same notions?
  2. In which countries did Karl Marx’s ideology of communism start?
  3. Who was the first non-white head of state in a Western country?
  4. Was the assassination of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden legal?
  5. What was the impact of the Jim Crow laws on worldwide legislation?
  6. What did Abraham Lincoln advocate that led him to be one of the most revered political figures in history?
  7. How did Adolf Hitler spread his Nazi ideology across Germany?
  8. What were the earliest instances of Martial Law being enacted?
  9. How did United Nations address the numerous world issues that sprung throughout the decades since the conception of the organization?
  10. How did the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases affect the notion of legislation?

Best Topics on Environment

The apparent trend: as centuries go by, human technology improves drastically and population density increases exponentially. Drastically and exponentially, too, has the environment being affected, very often for the worse. 

  1. How did forest density develop over the centuries?
  2. Did the invention of plastic mark the beginning of pollution?
  3. Why were paper products (paper bags, paper cups, etc.) created?
  4. How was recycling popularized?
  5. What was the impact of the most severe oil spill ever recorded?
  6. Many speculations were made surrounding the Amazon Fire, with some saying it was politically charged. What past similar events shared the same speculations or were confirmed to be politically charged?
  7. How did Al Gore attempt to spread awareness about climate change?
  8. What were the early factors that caused the thinning of the ozone layer?
  9. When did the usage of fossil fuels peak?
  10. What is the earliest record carbon footprint?

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