Historical research can be incredibly exciting and interesting, but getting started can be daunting--especially if you are starting from scratch in coming up with a topic.
In general, the most important thing to remember is that getting started early is essential. Give your self time to browse, connect, reimagine, and revise. Below are some links walk you through steps for developing a topic and writing an interesting paper. These aren't the only way to approach the work, but they give you a place to start. Remember to consult your professor for big questions or concerns and to re-read the assignment.
Learning to Do Historical Research: A Primer
How to Frame a Researchable Question
Created by historian William Cronin and his graduate students to help undergraduates develop research topic in environmental history, but ideas and concepts are useful for any area of historical research.
Stages of A Historical Research Project
Independent project on the Web. offers a streamlined outline for research processes that may be a good quick reference tool
Keyword Search Tips and Tricks
Brainstorm terms related to your topic
Never Admit Defeat!
Palaeography: reading old handwriting
1500 - 1800
A practical online tutorial
Palaeography is the study of old handwriting. This web tutorial will help you learn to read the handwriting found in documents written in English between 1500 and 1800.
At first glance, many documents written at this time look illegible to the modern reader. By reading the practical tips and working through the documents in the Tutorial in order of difficulty, you will find that it becomes much easier to read old handwriting. You can find more documents on which to practise your skills in the further practice section.