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    • Sam Jenkins ’19 researches for his AP US History paper on John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

Terming Up the Heat: Research Papers on The Hill

Zander Blitzer '18, Features Editor
Writing the research paper, a seven- to twenty-fve page paper on one specifc topic, is a hallmark of Hopkins’ high school history classes and a rite of passage.
There’s nothing quite like the research paper when it comes to showcasing the individuality of Hopkins students. Research papers allow history students to focus on a narrow, hand selected topic to craft a persuasive, thoroughly researched argument. Students are encouraged to utilize skills such as time management and self motivation, while diving into a personally engaging topic.

After writing three research papers, many seniors feel passionate about one of the topics they’ve covered over the years. Sam Dies ’18 said, “For ACIII, I wrote about how post-WWII occupation caused the cultural bifurcation in Japan.” Having lived in Japan during elementary school, Dies said she chose the topic because she “got to take a closer look at the country [in which] I spent my frst school years and I got to look through all my mom’s pictures and use some as primary sources.”

Drew Mindell ’18 was similarly excited by his ACIII research paper. He said, “I wrote about the AIDS crisis, more specifcally about negligence during the Reagan Administration due to ties to the evangelical right, specifcally the moral majority during his campaigning. I was really interested about it because it’s something that’s still affecting the gay community, and a lot of communities to this day.” Elaborating on why this topic was important to him, Mindell said, “The fact that if the crisis had been addressed sooner, there would be tens of thousands of people who would still be alive and much more advanced treatment in the modern day, even though we have made great strides.”

Andrew Roberge ’18 also fondly spoke about his ACIII research paper. He said, “I wrote about domestic terrorism in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, with the Randy Weaver family and the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas, where it was shown to the American public as domestic terrorism, but through my research, I uncovered federal negligence and corruption with the F.B.I. and the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agencies.” When asked about how he chose this topic, Roberge said, “Originally, I told Mr. Cronin I wanted to write about cults and he told me to research this instead. I got super into it; I bought a bunch of books off Amazon and read them all. It was pretty cool because I was uncovering stuff that the government didn’t really want the American public to know.”

Kieran Anderson ’18 chose a more international topic for his ACIII research paper. He said, “I chose to talk about the impact of the United Nations in creating world peace. I chose this topic because I’m interested in studying how the organization had such a global impact in a profound way and how people can work together to change the world for the better. I concluded that the United Nations has made many mistakes in the past, but as a whole the organization has done much good in the world by promoting education and public health.”

Sonni Fitzsimonds ’18 felt similarly enthralled by her research paper. She said, “For ACII, I wrote about the economic pressures following WWI, the successful Bolshevik revolution that contributed to increasing socialist/communist sympathies in the US, the consequential fear of a communist coup of the government during the First Red Scare and the extra-constitutional responses of the government to suppress those ideologies, especially as the US news media chronicled the post-revolution fallout in Russia.” Excited by the plethora of primary sources available, she added, “There were so many awesome news articles, speeches, political cartoons, and pamphlets.”

Karyn Bartosic ’18, a self- proclaimed European history fanatic, remembered her ACI research paper fondly. She said, “My favorite term paper was about Napoleon’s failed invasion of Egypt and how although he failed, the campaign had lasting effects on the Ottoman Empire, Europe, and Napoleon’s future political career in France.” Discussing the process of picking her topic, she said, “I picked it in a roundabout way, originally planning on looking at trade before and after the fall of Constantinople, but there were, shockingly enough, next to no sources. The paper introduced me fully to Napoleon and his intricacies and he became one of my favorite historical fgures.”

The process of picking a research paper topic was decidedly different for Leah Miller ’20, who elected to take ACII over the summer. She said, “You had to decide on a topic really quickly, so I did some intense research on everything that interested me and then I narrowed in on what grabbed me the most.” Miller ultimately decided to write on “the Great Depression, and its ramifcations on American culture.”

Graley Turner ’20 is at the beginning of her research paper journey; she is currently researching for her ACI research paper. She said, “My current term paper is about women and how they affected the French Revolution. I saw the topic on the list and knew I wanted to do that one.” Turner was surprised to find out that “there’s a lot more about feminism in the French Revolution than I thought there would be.”

Georgia Doolittle ’18 chose an unconventional topic for her fnal research paper at Hopkins. She wrote about “the impact of the looming threat of nuclear war on the science fiction genre. During this time of nuclear threat, right after the golden age of science fction, it all became super surreal and questioning existence and humanity, because science fiction became a little too real. People no longer really wanted to read about oppressive governments because they thought ‘that’s what was happening right now,’ but at the same time more people wanted to write about what was happening. So we had an insurgence of Soviet Russia propaganda in form of science fiction novels.”

When talking about why she chose this topic, Doolittle said, “I chose the science fiction one because I was reading Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke, a famous golden age science fiction novelist, and I thought since it was ACIII I could write about whatever I want. In order to make that a paper, I decided to focus on nuclear war.” Doolittle’s observation reveals that as one progresses through the Hopkins history sequence, the scope of research papers widens and students can truly choose to write about anything historical that interests them.
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