Historical Narrative Essay Topics

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Writing historical narrative essays can be a great way to combine your students' awareness of history and social studies with their familiarity with the writing process. The topics in this lesson will help get students of all ages and abilities writing!

The Historical Narrative Essay

As you teach your students about history and social studies, you may be looking for ways they can express their learning through writing. Similarly, as your students grow in their familiarity with the writing process, you might seek out ways they can extend themselves to writing across the discipline. The historical narrative essay is a wonderful genre for meeting all of these purposes. When students write historical narratives, they focus on historical topics but write about them using a narrative structure that enables broader reflection on themes and ideas. Historical narrative essays often focus on small moments, telling them like stories that can then be used to reflect on bigger themes and ideas from history. The narrative essay topics in this lesson can be modified to get students of all ages and writing abilities focused on the intersection of history and writing.

Essay Topics About People

  • Tell a story about a person from history who you believe made a big difference in the world. As you write about this person's life and works, try to focus in on one moment, action, or speech that you think encapsulates something meaningful about the person. You can also reflect on what you personally admire about this person and why you think they are especially important in history.
  • Think about a person or group of people whose story you think is often missing or hidden from a bigger picture of history. Write an essay that describes your understanding of that person's or group's experience of a particular time, using a narrative structure to help your readers picture and imagine that person's life and its relevance to history.
  • In this essay, write about a person from history who you think of as extremely different from yourself. Describe a story from their life and work that showcases this difference. Reflect in your essay on the person's major characteristics and what makes them a memorable historical figure, considering what you can also learn about yourself from the contrast with this person.

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