Campaign Projects

Essays due April 7 // Final Projects due May 4

Annotated Assignment Guidelines:

By Monday, April 27 [REVISED], students will submit a 6 to 8 page NARRATIVE CAMPAIGN ESSAY that describes a major political, social or military campaign from the broader Civil War era (1840 to 1880).  Each essay should provide background and context for the campaign, key narrative details and a coherent assessment of significance.  Political campaigns might focus on major election contests, social campaign might focus on attempted reform movements, like integrating women into the war effort, or military campaigns might focus on a key sequence of battles or maneuvers.

  • Students may choose to revise and expand upon either of their earlier evaluated narrative essays (Escape or Battle), but remember that now you are writing about a CAMPAIGN and your topic will need a broader scope.

All essays should use a wide-ranging combination of high quality primary and secondary sources.

  • You will only be required to use digitally available sources (since you are now working from home).  This will limit your efforts in some ways, but make sure to consult with Prof. Pinsker to help identify the best possible digital versions of both your primary and secondary sources.

All essays should also be typed and double-spaced as a Word or PDF document while including a title page with descriptive title and Chicago-style footnotes (no bibliography required).

  • Use this handout to help format your footnotes or consult this library guide to see the more variations on Chicago-style footnote format
  • Use this handout to improve the way you use quotations from your sources
  • Use this handout to improve your proofreading skills

In addition to the essay, students should also submit an appendix that includes brief biographical profiles of up to a dozen key figures with a short list of top sources for each figure and a properly captioned and credited image.

  • Model appendix entry (for style and length):

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (Library of Congress)

Taney, Roger B.  Chief Justice Roger Taney was a Maryland-born slaveholder who manumitted his own slaves in 1818 but later became controversial for his bitterly pro-slavery 1857 Dred Scott decision.  Taney graduated from Dickinson College in 1795 where his particular mentor, president Charles Nisbet, was notably anti-slavery.  Taney himself appeared to be evolving toward an anti-slavery position during his early career as a lawyer and Federalist politician, despite owning several enslaved people himself.  This evolution culminated by the early 1820s, when not long after Taney manumitted or freed his slaves, he also defended an abolitionist minister from Carlisle and supported the Missouri Compromise. Yet during the 1830s, Taney became a Jacksonian Democrat, joined the U.S. Supreme Court as chief justice in 1835 and during the next two decades earned a reputation as one of the most pro-slavery jurists in the country.  As an older man, Taney convinced himself that it was abolitionism, not slavery, that was tearing the country apart.  He died in 1864, an embittered figure who felt that the Lincoln Administration was ruining the union of states.  Sources consulted:  Timothy Huebner, “Roger B. Taney and the Slavery Issue: Looking Before –and Beyond—Dred Scott.”  Journal of American History 97 (June 2010): 17-38; American National Biography profile (By Sandra F. VanBurkleo and Bonnie Speck).

Both essay and biographical appendix should be submitted by email to Prof. Pinsker by 5pm on the due date.  Student work will be graded on research effort, depth of analysis and prose quality. Late essays may be penalized.  Please communicate in advance of any missed deadlines.

Campaign Project

By Monday, May 4th, students will be required to build a multi-media teaching website (in the free platform Weebly) that analyzes a political, social or military campaign from the Civil War era.  Websites should build out revised content from the Campaign Essay and include at least three main pages (beyond a home page):  a background page, a narrative page, and a key participants page. The home page should include a brief abstract, an essential question which organizes the learning goals of the site and a brief “About the Author” section.   All sites should include text with Chicago-style footnotes, and supplemented with properly credited and captioned images.  Students should also try to create and embed well-developed multi-media resources at their sites –such as online maps,  timelines, podcasts, or videos.   STUDENTS MAY USE PREVIOUSLY SUBMITTED MAPS OR TIMELINES BUT THEY SHOULD REVISE AND REFINE THEM. Websites may also incorporate multi-media elements from external sources, but students must acknowledge and properly credit all of those sources. Late projects may be penalized.  Please communicate in advance of any missed deadlines.


Here are some student-produced Weebly models to consider:

Each website should have at least three pages:  a page on the campaign and its significance (revised from the earlier Campaign Essay), a list of key participants (revised from the appendix submitted with that essay) and a more creative page that aspires to engage teachers and students in the study of the campaign.  For example, each website might consider creating a historical thinking section that explicitly engages teachers and students in a methods exercise, like investigating a primary source or analyzing competing sources.

The best websites will provide well-written and well-produced multi-media content that humanizes and contextualizes a Civil War era campaign in a way that would be suitable for a high school or college classroom.  The best campaign projects will also demonstrate some skill in narrative story-telling.  See this advice on story from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns:

Ken Burns: On Story from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.


  • Always include a brief About section that provides information about the author and also about the project’s objectives and its intended audience
  • Make sure your site is published to the web but discourage search engines from indexing to protect your privacy.  BUT NOTE THAT YOUR EMBEDDED MULTI-MEDIA ELEMENTS MUST BE SET TO PUBLIC IN ORDER TO EMBED AND SHARE PROPERLY.
  • All websites must acknowledge and properly credit their sources. Please take care to use public domain components and to follow fair use guidelines when approaching copyrighted materials.
  • Make sure to communicate with Prof. Pinsker by email if you are in danger of missing the deadline.

Special Tips for Video Production

  • Remember, you must sign up for YouTube or Vimeo and upload your video to those free cloud-based services FIRST (with video sharing set to public) before embedding your video at your Weebly platform.
  • General tips for Ken Burns-style documentary filmmaking:
    • Always open with a title page, and whenever possible, with some public domain music
    • The key to voice over narration with still images is to have good, clear audio and a narrator with strong pacing and a conversational style.  Make sure to take care with your recording devices and sound environment (watch echo!)
    • Also critical for the success of your video will be images.  Make sure they are high resolution, and be creative in cropping, framing and using tools such as pan & zoom, in order to create a sense of engagement.  Remember, you need to make quick cuts (about every 4 to 6 seconds) while still connecting images to the voice-over.
    • Documentary short films don’t need thesis statements, but they do need a coherent point-of-view and careful attention to narrative storytelling.  Try to outline your project with a storyboard (i.e. converting your text into a visual outline with accompanying images).
    • Finally, make sure your images, music and sound effects are in the public domain and properly credited at the end of your video.

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