This essay assignment asks you to think about the construction of racial identity. That is, because we understand that categorizes of race—for example “black” or “white”—are not static—what does the 1920s teach us about how Americans constructed and interpreted racial categories? What cultural, intellectual, and political influences impacted Americans’ ideas about race? And second, how did these racial categories impact various Americans’ ideas of who should be entitled to full citizenship within the United States? 

Our essay topic requires you to draw upon the following sources:

  • At least three of the primary sources assigned for week 1. (These are the sources in For the Record.)
  • Chapter 4 of These United States (secondary source)


  • Please double-space the essay.
  • 900-1200 words
  • Remember to include a title that gives your reader insight into the nature of your argument.

 Evaluation: These essay answers will be graded on a variety of factors. I have included a rubric, and I recommend that you look at it before you begin writing and also before you finally submit the essay. In addition to the rubric, here’s an overview of what, I will be looking for:

  • the presence of a thesis. A thesis guides the shape of your essays and makes a contestable claim.
  • use of specific evidence to support your claims.
  • your ability to answer the questions without using any sources we did not read as a class (so no, do not do extra research for these answers!)..

 Citations (and some information about avoiding plagiarism):

  • For this essay, you must cite page numbers information you got from another source, and use MLA style. Remember, specific page numbers are critical as they help that you adequately give credit to other authors, help you appear credible to your reader, and enable your reader to follow up on anything you’ve written.
  • This link introduces you to the basics of MLA citation (Links to an external site.).


Rubric for History 203 essays

Rubric for History 203 essays
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeHistorical Accuracy: The historical information in the essay is not only accurate but also attentive to nuance and complexity. The author does not rely upon excessive generalization or overstatement. The historical information in the essay is not only accurate but also attentive to nuance and complexity. The author does not rely upon excessive generalization or overstatement.30 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeThesis: The essay possesses an easily identifiable, clearly worded, insightful thesis. The thesis is a contestable claim, not just a statement of fact.10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganization and Support: The author has effectively organized the evidence so that each of the paragraphs has a clear focus that ultimately supports the thesis. Within each of these body paragraphs, there is carefully selected specific evidence to support the main claim of each of those paragraphs.15 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeSources: In order to support its argument, the essay effectively employs Gilmore’s text and at least three primary sources.20 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeCitations: The author has accurately employed MLA style to cite his/her sources both within the text and also in a works cited at the end of the essay. Sources are acknowledged whether or not the author has employed direct quotations.15 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeMechanics: Word Choice, Grammar, and Punctuation The writing employs clear, vivid vocabulary. The sentences are varied in structure and are consistently grammatically sound. The essay does not have punctuation errors.10 pts
Total Points: 100

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