Participation and Attendance (25%)

Students are to attend each class having completed the readings or other assignments and be prepared to discuss them. Students should check in with their assigned TA to note their attendance before taking their seat. Your grade will be based on your contributions to in-class activities and discussions, how you interact with your peers during class, whether you have brought the readings or required material to class, and arriving on-time.

Your participation grade will also include a number of short quizzes that will be administered throughout the semester. These are meant as a check-in to make sure you are engaging with the course’s material, including lectures, readings, and in-class activities. Unless otherwise notified, you will not need to study for these outside of: a) doing the reading, and b) taking notes and paying attention during class. If you happen to be absent during one of these quizzes, the scores from your other quizzes will be weighted more heavily.

Citizenship Portfolio (15%)

One of the major themes of this course is American citizenship and the relationship between the past and the present. As part of this theme, you will going through a Citizenship Portfolio in which you go on three experiences outside of the classroom that are related to citizenship today and then submit written reflections on those experiences.

  1. Attend a municipal government meeting or hearing held by the city of Boston. Due on Wednesday, Sep. 19th. (5%)
  2. Attend an immigration detainee hearing. Due on Sunday, Oct. 14th. (5%)
  3. Complete a voting worksheet during the lead-up to the mid-term elections. Due on Sunday, Oct. 28th. (5%)

Please note that these assignments cannot be completed at the last minute and are subject to outside schedules that are beyond your own control. They will require you to plan ahead several days or even weeks to figure out when you can complete them. Full description of the assignment.

Weekend Briefing (15%)

You will be writing a modified version of the New York Times’s Weekend Briefing see recent example from the perspective of one newspaper during one week from 1860. What was happening during that week? What were the different issues, topics, events, and stories that this paper was covering? Full description of the assignment.

Due on Sunday, September 30th.

Reacting to the Past: Chicago, 1968 (25%)

You will be playing a historical roleplaying game over the course of several weeks in November. In it, you will be taking on the persona of either a politician, protestor, or journalist during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago during 1968. You will be evaluated on a combination of essays/assignments and active participation during the game. More details will be distributed prior to the start of the game.

Unessay (20%)

“What does it mean to be an American?” In your final project, you will be presenting some kind of historical interpretation or narrative that addresses the core question of the course. You might focus on what it meant to be an American during an event, period or episode in American history, for instance, or how American identity today is shaped by some particular historical process or event. Your project must take the format of an “unessay,” or any project format besides a traditional final paper. You can create a sculpture, podcast episode, restaurant menu, board game, meme collage, website, piece of historical fictional - whatever you want!

Regardless of the format, the major requirement is that you must present a historically based analysis and interpretation that is supported by both primary and secondary sources. The interpretation must be clearly and compellingly articulated (written, painted, sung, etc.) and incorporate some kind of historical perspective. The very best unessays will demonstrate not only solid analysis, but creativity in how that interpretation is presented. Each analysis will include an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a short written introduction that gives an overview or any necessary explanation of the project.

Examples of student unessays completed in other U.S. History courses:,

Submit your unessay either in person or electronically at the following link:

Due on Wednesday, December 12th by 5PM