African American History Biographical essay

General Requirements:

  • Select a biographical subject who was a person of African descent who lived prior to 1900 and who is not well known by the general public
  • Draw from at least TWO primary sources relating to the individual and/or their historical context
  • Draw from least THREE secondary sources relating to the individual and/or their historical context
  1. Write an essay (between 1500-2500 words) that investigates the life of your subject and their historical context on the basis of the two primary sources you have selected, drawing support from at least three relevant secondary sources. Given the fact that you will be uploading this text to the website, you are highly encouraged to incorporate visual material alongside your text.

Grading Rubric

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African American History Biographical essay
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  1. 50% of the grade: A central argument
    1. Does the project proceed from a clear question or point of interpretation on the biography of an individual? Does it advance a clear and original argument?
    2. To what extent are the central points of the essay supported by evidence?
    3. Does the project fulfill the basic word counts stipulated for the essay or the annotated bibliography?
  1. 20% of the grade: Structure

    Is the project structured in a way that is easy to follow? For instance, an essay should begin with an attention-grabbing intro, the piece’s central point outlined in the first few paragraphs, followed by the coherent building up of an argument, and culminating in a conclusion that advances a new thought that furthers what came before (ie, the conclusion does more than just restate what has already been said).

  1. 30% of the grade: Primary and secondary sources
    1. Does the student use at least 2 primary sources and at least 3 secondary sources?
    2. How well does the student grasp what makes a primary source, and how historians can use them?
    3. Does the central question or theme of the project correspond to the content of the primary sources?
    4. How well do the secondary sources support the interpretation of the primary sources, and vice versa, in order to advance original insight(s)?

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