Second Essay –20th Century

Due April 2, 2021

On Friday, April 2, students will submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay on a twentieth-century topic provided to them near the beginning of that week.

Please choose ONE of the following essay topics:

  • What are some critical ways that Russell Baker’s memoir illustrates the changing roles of women in early 20th-century American society?


  • What are some critical ways that Russell Baker’s memoir illustrates the changing roles of the federal government in the economy and in supporting ordinary Americans both during the Great Depression and its aftermath?

Please open your paper with a descriptive title and your byline.  Consider how to organize your examples from Growing Up into a coherent argument or interpretation, and please make sure that you rely heavily on the American Yawp to help provide context for your analysis.  You may  incorporate some of your own previously submitted email reflections if they seem relevant. You do not have to cite yourself, but please use Chicago-style footnotes for all quotations and any other specific information, such as statistics.  Make sure that your footnotes are a true roadmap for your research, showing exactly where you obtained the quotation or information that you are citing.

Sample Footnotes

According to the editors of the American Yawp textbook, “reform became the word of the age.”[1]  Any subsequent citation to Yawp can be abbreviated with only chapter and section number.[2]

[1] Mary Anne Henderson, ed., “The Progressive Era,” in The American Yawp, eds. Joseph Locke and Ben Wright (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018).

[2] Yawp, 20: IV.

Outside research is allowed but not required.

  • Relevant reading assignments for this essay include several chapters from American Yawp, Russell Baker’s memoir Growing Up, and selected student-produced oral history projects.  Make sure to include at least some references to both Baker and Yawp.
  • Make sure to address a question and devise a thesis statement that can be effectively argued in a short paper.  Consult the Methods Center handout on How to Write a Thesis Statement 
  • Make sure you are formatting your footnotes correctly.  See this methods handout on How to Use Footnotes and consult as needed with the library’s Chicago-style guide, but make sure to use sample footnote models for formatting and NOT bibliography examples.

Essays will be graded on depth of analysis, use of evidence, and quality of prose Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points each day.

  • Take to care to evaluate your sources as you deploy them in your essay.  See this methods post on Evaluating Sources for a helpful overall framework.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of integrating your quoted evidence with some degree of fluidity.  Awkwardly inserting quotations is one of the hallmarks of mediocre undergraduate essays.  Consult this handout from the methods center for a range of good tips.
  • Also, please guard against plagiarism.  Remember our discussion from the very first day of the semester.  Never write your own words while looking directly at your sources, especially secondary sources –unless you are quoting them.
  • And finally, always remember to proofread your work by printing it out and reading it aloud, slowly. See our methods handout on How to Proofreed [sic]