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Great History Essay Topics and Assignment Ideas

Once in a while, your history instructor may let you pick a history essay topic. If you are clueless about where to start, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place! In this article, you’ll see over 150 great historical events to write about. You’ll also discover some useful questions to guide you.

What should I write my history essay about?

Defining your topic is undoubtedly the most crucial and frequently the most challenging aspect of history essay writing. A poorly defined topic will never result in a quality paper. A good history essay is much more than a list of facts about previous occurrences; it must also explain. In addition to reiterating what other historians have already concluded, it must also give your interpretation. A good history essay focuses on a narrow subject. Ask who, what, where, when, and/or why something occurred as it did to focus your topic.

Sections on this page:

  1. U.S. History Essay Topics List
  2. World History Essay Topics
  3. Ancient History Essay Topics

Choosing the right topic for your history essay is crucial as it influences the core direction of the paper. Without a strong topic, you may squander time conducting research and produce a subpar essay. Ensure that you devote sufficient time in the pre-writing steps to selecting an appropriate topic.

history essay assignment topics
Open book with history doodles and lettering. Education vector illustration.

Three Steps to Help You Choose a Topic:

  1. Identify a topic of interest. If your instructor has offered a list of potential themes, choose one that interests you. If you do not have a list of topics to choose from, consider something relevant to the course material that you would like to learn more about.
  2. Review the work already done on the topic (historiography) and familiarize yourself with the basic facts and events: Examine textbooks, historical encyclopedias, and other broad and specialist publications to determine what is known about the issue.
  3. Narrow down your topic. Choose a focus that is practicable and manageable in scope. A poorly defined or overly broad topic will never result in a quality paper. Even if your professor assigned the topic, you will likely need to modify it.

Choosing a topic with which you are familiar is also crucial, as it will facilitate the writing process by enhancing your understanding. In addition, a smart plan will streamline research and save time when accumulating quality and relevance content.

A topic says volumes about your essay and informs the reader of its content. Choose the finest theme and execute it with correct grammar, good reasoning, and verifiable data to make a statement.

in this article, our staff has compiled a selection of intriguing history essay topic ideas with relevant questions to help you identify a smashing topic. To facilitate your selection, we have subdivided this text into three headings: US history essay topics, world history essay topics, and ancient history topics.

U.S. History Essay Topics List

TopicHelpful Questions
Native AmericansHow did European colonization impact Native Americans?
Native American religionHow did it relate to the environment?
The lost colony of RoanokeWhat theories attempt to explain its disappearance?
Salem Witch TrialsWhat possible causes were behind the events?
Women in Colonial America What was the role of women?  Consider the concept of the  “republican mother” and its effect on the movement toward revolution.
American RevolutionWhat were the main causes?  What role did Thomas Paine’s Common Sense have in promoting the movement for independence?
American RevolutionWhat factors facilitated an American victory?
The United States Constitution How did it remedy the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?
The United States ConstitutionDid the framers the Constitution really represent the American people?  (Consider the issue of Aristocracy versus Democracy?)
Federalists vs. Anti-federalistsWhat were the key arguments leading to ratification of the Constitution?  What was the outcome of the debate?
The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794What were the causes and effects?
Marbury v. Madison(Consider the impact and implications) What was the impact of this case on the American judicial system?
Cotton ginWhat was the impact of this technology on the American economy and the use of slave labor on plantations in the South?
Utopian coloniesWhat were their goals and methods?  Why did they fail? (Examples include Amana colony, Brook Farm, Oneida colony, Bishop Hill)
Indian Removal ActWhat were the reasons for the passage of this act?  What was the impact of the Trail of Tears that emerged?
Mexican WarWhat were the causes and/or effects of this war?  Did the United States provoke the war?
Manifest Destiny What were the primary causes of westward expansion?
Oregon TrailWhy was the motivation to move to the West so strong that people were willing to take enormous risks?
MormonsWhy did they encounter opposition in Illinois? What motivated their migration to Utah?  What has been their impact on western development and American society?
Gold RushWhat was its impact on the development of California?
SlaveryWhat was its impact on the economy of the South?  What were its effects on African American families?
Lincoln-Douglas debatesCompare and contrast the views of each regarding slavery and      governmental power.  What was the impact of the debates?
Abolitionist movement in the United StatesWho were the key leaders of this movement, and what were their contributions?  What was the impact on the tensions leading to the Civil War?
The Underground RailroadWhat were the methods used?  What was the impact?
Pre-Civil War conflicts over slaveryWhat were the causes and effects of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry?
Pre-Civil War conflicts over slavery:What were the causes and effects of the Nat Turner Rebellion?
Dred Scott decisionWhat was its impact on the slavery issue?
Civil War  What were the key issues that caused conflict between North and South? (Recall that there were many sectional differences in addition to slavery.)
Civil WarWhat were the strengths and weaknesses of the North and the South, and how did these factors contribute to the outcome of the war?  (Especially focus on economic factors.)
Civil WarWhy did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation?  How did it influence the decision of European nations not to recognize the Confederacy?
Women in the Civil WarHow did they contribute?
African American soldiers in the Civil WarHow did they contribute?  What kind of discrimination did they face in the Union army?
Abraham Lincoln’s assassinationWhat did Booth and his co-conspirators hope to achieve? How did Lincoln’s assassination impact the reconstruction of the nation after the Civil War? *Was Mary Surratt actually a part of the conspiracy?
African Americans after the Civil WarHow were they affected by Reconstruction             policies?  How were they affected after the return of white supremacy?  Discuss social,             legal, and economic factors.
New York draft riots during the Civil WarWhat were the causes?  What were the effects?
Transcontinental railroadWhat was its impact on westward expansion?
Legend vs. reality in the WestFocus on myths and realities surrounding a particular          figure (e.g.: Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, George Custer, etc.)
Native American conflicts in the WestSpecify tribe(s) and conflict. (e.g.: The Battle of the Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee Massacre, etc.); What were the causes and effects?
United States and Native American policyWhat was the impact of the Dawes Act and/or other pieces of legislation?  What was the impact of the reservation policy?
Electric power and related inventorsAnalyze the impact of the harnessing of electric power and/or discuss the competition among the inventors who played a role (e.g.: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse)
Inventors/inventions of the 19th CenturyChoose a significant inventor or invention and examine the challenges of developing the item or the impact of the invention on the American society/economy.
Wealthy industrialists in the late 1800s“Robber Barons” or “Captains of Industry”?
The Gilded AgeDiscuss the origin of the term and why it is an appropriate metaphor for the United States in the late 1800s.
Labor unions in the 1800sWhat economic, social, and philosophical factors              contributed to their formation?
Labor conflicts/strikes in the late 1800sWhat was the federal government’s attitude              toward organized labor, and how and when did it change?
Haymarket RiotWhat were the causes and effects?
Pullman StrikeWhat were the causes and effects?
Immigration in the late 1800sWhat were the difficulties faced by immigrants, and how did they adjust to life in America?
Immigration in the late 1800sDiscuss the “melting pot” vs. “salad bowl” metaphors.
Chinese immigrantsWhy did they come to the U.S.?  What discrimination did they face? (Chinese Exclusion Act)
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871Why was it so severe?  What was the impact on the city (especially architecture)?
Urban political machines in the late 1800sWhat were the reasons for their development?  Why were they successful?  What is their legacy?
The political cartoons of Thomas NastWhat was their influence on public opinion?  How did they contribute to the downfall of Boss Tweed?
Settlement house movement of the late 1800sWhat prompted the development of the movement?  What was its impact on urban neighborhoods?  Specify area (e.g.: Chicago’s Hull House)
Child labor in the late 1800s/ early 1900sWhat was the impact on society?  How were reforms made?
Galveston hurricane of 1900What were the effects on the city?  How did city government change after the hurricane?
The San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906What were the effects on the city, especially on the Chinese residents?
MuckrakersWhat was the impact of this journalism on progressive reforms?
The Springfield Race Riot of 1908What were the causes and/or effects?
Imperialism in the late 19thand early 20th CenturyWas it justified? (Focus on one region.)
Yellow journalismWhat was its role in causing the Spanish-American War?  (Hearst and Pulitzer)
Spanish-American WarWhat were the causes and/or effects?
The automobileWhat was its impact on America’s economy and society?
World War IWhat were the reasons for U.S. involvement?
Anti-German sentiment in the United States during World War IWhat policies were developed as a result?  What was the impact on German-Americans?
Black Sox scandalWhat caused the players to participate? Was “Shoeless Joe” Jackson part of the conspiracy?
Women’s suffrage movementWho were the founders and what methods did they use?  What were their successes and/or failures?
Red Scare of the 1920sWhat were the causes?  What was the impact on immigrants and/or radicals?  What was the role of A. Mitchell Palmer and/or J. Edgar Hoover?
Sacco-Vanzetti caseWhat role did discrimination play in the trial and verdict?
ProhibitionWhat were the causes?  What was its impact on the development of organized crime?
Harlem RenaissanceWhat were the causes?  What were the effects?
Mississippi River Flood of 1927How did it affect farmers?  How did it impact racial issues in the South? What was the government response?
Stock market crash of 1929What economic factors caused it?
The Bonus ArmyWhat prompted this protest?  What was the outcome and impact?
Dust Bowl of the 1930sWhat were the causes and/or effects?
Scottsboro TrialWhat was the impact of racism on the outcome?
New DealWhat was its impact on the arts?  What was its impact on farming? (Or choose another area)
Lindbergh kidnappingWho kidnapped the Lindbergh baby? Was Bruno Hauptmann wrongfully convicted?
Amelia EarhartWhat happened to Amelia Earhart?
Tuskegee AirmenWhat obstacles did they face?  How did they influence the struggle for    African American rights?
Pearl HarborCould it have been predicted?  Would the U.S. have entered World War II without it?
World War IIWhat was the impact of propaganda and its use in the United States?
World War IIWhat was the significance of the Battle of Midway?
World War IIWhat were the reasons for the success of the D-Day invasion?
World War IIWhat contributions were made by Americans on the home front?
Japanese InternmentWhy did it occur?  How did it affect Japanese-Americans?
World War IIWhat were the contributions of women?  How did it affect women’s employment?
World War IIWhat were the contributions of African Americans?
Manhattan ProjectWhat were the reasons for/methods of secrecy?
Bombing of Hiroshima/NagasakiWas it necessary? Argue one side.
Cold WarHow and why did it originate? What were its effects on U.S. foreign policy? How have attitudes toward communism changed since it ended?
Truman’s containment policyHow was it implemented by the Truman Doctrine, the               Marshall Plan, and the Berlin Airlift?
Korean WarWhat caused the No Gun Ri massacre, and why was it kept secret?
McCarthyismWhat were its causes?  What were its effects?
Ethel and Julius RosenbergWere they guilty of spying?
Baby BoomWhat was its impact on American society? (1950s-present)
Brown v. Board of Education caseWhat was its impact?
Blacks in BaseballHow did it affect/mirror the removal of other barriers for African Americans in society in general?
U-2 incidentWhat was the effect on U.S.-Soviet relations?
JFK and the Cuban missile crisisWhat were the reasons for the U.S. response?  Evaluate the consequences of JFK’s actions.
JFK and the Bay of Pigs invasionWhy did the U.S. sponsor it?  Why did it fail?
JFK: Evaluate his presidencyWas he an effective president, or simply a nostalgic hero?
JFK’s assassinationWho was responsible?  Were the Warren commission’s findings accurate?
Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s  Evaluate the tactics and accomplishments.  
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 1963What was its impact?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassinationWas James Earl Ray responsible?
Social protest in the 1960sWhat forms did it take?  What was its impact on American   society?
Lyndon Johnson’s Great SocietyWhat were its successes?  What were its failures?  What was the impact of this program on the creation of a welfare system in the United States?
Vietnam War              How did the U.S. get involved?
My Lai MassacreWhat were the causes?  Who was responsible?
Vietnam WarWhat was the role of the anti-war movement in changing American opinions toward the war?  How was public policy influenced? (Or, what was the role of the media?)
Kent State shootingsWhat were the contributing factors?  Who was responsible?
Vietnam WarWhy did the United States lose?  Evaluate goals, policies, decisions, and/or the role of geography and the nature of guerrilla warfare to analyze the failure.
Vietnam WarWhat were the social consequences?  Analyze the treatment of veterans            returning from the war.
Agent OrangeEvaluate its use during the Vietnam War and its effects.
1968 Democratic Convention in ChicagoWhat were the reasons for the protests, and why did violence erupt?  Evaluate the city’s response and the impact on public opinion.
American Indian Movement (AIM) and the 1973 occupation of Wounded KneeWhat    motivated the takeover?  What was its impact on relations between Native Americans and                the government?
Watts riotWhat were the causes?  What were the effects on race relations in America?
Iran Hostage situation (1979)What were the causes?  Evaluate President Carter’s handling of the situation.
Iran-Contra scandalWho was really responsible?
Affirmative action in education or the workplaceIs it still necessary?  Why or why not? Be sure to focus the historical implications.
African Americans in the militaryWhat significant contributions did they make?  How         have they overcome discrimination?
Women in the militaryWhat significant contributions did they make?  How have they    overcome discrimination?  Should women serve in combat positions?
Women’s rightsHow have changes in women’s employment affected their role in society?  Focus on one period.
Oklahoma City BombingWhat motivated Timothy McVeigh to plan and carry out the attack?
Sept. 11, 2001 attacksHow did the attacks affect American security policies?  How did they impact U.S. foreign policy?  How did they impact American views of Islam?  Other narrow topics may be approved—see your teachers.
Hurricane Katrina (2005)What caused the flooding in New Orleans to be so severe?  What was the impact of the government’s response?  How has the city/region changed since then?  What was the political impact?
Key people in American historyChose an individual (i.e.: A President, First Lady, leader of a movement, etc.) and discuss that person’s impact on the United States.  Get help formulating your thesis so that you do not simply write a report.

World History Essay Topics

  • Cold War – positive and negative outcomes;
  • Top 3 historical figures that changed the world
  • Pol Pot’s cruelty in Cambodia
  • Bizarre medicine in ancient times
  • The Nazi mission to change the world
  • Russia – Why is everyone scared of the country?
  • Covid-19 – Is there any hope for a total cure?
  • Conquering space – American and Russian outcomes;
  • Soviet countries technology in 2021;
  • The role of French Revolution in the formation of the world community.
  • Colonization of Africa – Why African people struggle with basics until now?
  • How does sexual revolution reflect the development of democratic principles in the world?
  • What is the role of propaganda in the modern world versus ancient times?
  • What could have been done to prevent World War 2?
  • World terrorism: Is there really a noble aim in killing thousands of people?
  • Plaques that managed to destroy populations in Europe and Asia;
  • Japanese Yakuza – ancient and modern traditions;
  • The best inventions of history that don’t have alternatives;
  • How did World War 2 change the world?
  • Indigenous tribes of America;
  • Cuban history – Revolutions and Freedom;
  • Chinese Great Wall – convict-built protection;
  • Egyptians have hidden goals while building pyramids;
  • Roman military forces – What made them be one of the greatest warriors?
  • The bloody history of the British Empire;
  • Islam beliefs in the modern world;
  • Post-war in Vietnam outcomes for the population;
  • Fashion history:  Women clothes in the 18th century;
  • Roman vs British Empires comparison;
  • Hippie culture – Do we need one now?
  • Iran and Iraq war – What are the positive outcomes if there are any?
  • Gender roles in American government in the 19th century;
  • Pirates in Somali – Why and at What Cost?
  • What was the outcome of British Colonialism for the world order?
  • How did the Pope obtain His power in the Middle Ages?
  • Are there any positive effects of the Second World War on the world community? What are they?
  • Russian aggression in the world: Are we going to witness the Third World War?
  • Personalities: What were the crucial moments of Hitler’s life that made him one of the greatest dictators of his generation?

Ancient History Essay Topics

Ancient Egypt

  • Society in Ancient Egypt
  • Describe State Organization of Ancient Egypt
  • Development of Ancient Egypt
  • American Discovery of Ancient Egypt
  • Gods and Religion of Ancient Egypt
  • Geography and Agriculture of Ancient Egypt
  • Housing and Architecture of Ancient Egypt
  • Work Organization in the Middle Kingdom, Ancient Egypt

Ancient Greece

  • Culture and Art of Ancient Greece
  • Architecture of the Ancient Greece
  • Myths of the Ancient Greece
  • History of the Acropolis
  • Philosophers of the Ancient Greece
  • Athenian Legends
  • Agriculture in Ancient Greece
  • Greek Pantheon & Religion

Ancient Rome

  • Rome Foundation & History
  • Key Factors in the Downfall of the Roman Empire
  • Organization of the Roman Army
  • State Governance within Ancient Rome
  • Conquests of the Roman Empire and Their Impact on other Cultures
  • Religion and Gods in the Roman Empire
  • Role of Julius Caesar in the Life of the Roman Empire

Middle Ages

  • Middle Ages Economy
  • Middle Ages: The Era of Advancement
  • Compare Middle Ages vs. The Renaissance
  • Life and Death in The Middle Ages
  • Knights of the Middle Ages
  • The Church in the Middle Ages. The Holy Inquisition
  • Literature and the Middle Ages
  • Crusades in the Middle Ages: Reasons and Consequences

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