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The Junior Research Paper

The Junior Research Paper (JRP) is a graduation requirement for all history and history/social science majors. This requirement applies to all majors, including transfer students. The paper is a central element of a core research sequence within the major that includes three components: (1) HIST 295, Introduction to Historical Inquiry; (2) the history research paper; and (3) HIST 494, Christianity and Historical Study, which is the department’s capstone seminar.

Paper Topics

The Junior Research Paper is typically an edited and lengthened version of a research paper submitted in an upper-division history course. As such, students have written on a variety of topics. Previous titles have included:

  • A Match Made in Heaven: The Philosopher King and the King Philosopher
  • American Candle: An Inquiry into the American Enlightenment Influences of Poor Richard's Almanack
  • Crisis of Interpretation: Anti-Abolitionists and Pro-Slavery Viewpoints from within the Antebellum Presbyterian Church
  • Defective, Misjudged, Silenced: The German Deaf Under the Third Reich
  • The Evangelical Catholic and the City: William August Muhlenberg
  • Reforming Music: How Luther's Theology Refocused the Language, Liturgy, and Locus of Church Music
  • Renewed Faith in an Age of Doubt: Religion, the British Soldier, and the Great War
  • The Spirituality of Nazi Racial Theory
  • Stepping Stones: The Path to a Strong Female Temperance Movement

Student Reflections

“The Junior Research Paper taught me and challenged me the most. It challenged me in my abilities to critically think, rewrite, and rewrite again an unfinished work. I learned a lot specifically about my topic, and I was really satisfied that I was able to use a paper that I had written abroad for the JRP.”

“There’s something really cool about interacting with the history of a particular period or place in a way that particularly interests you or reflects your passions. I discovered areas of interest and strength through writing assignments, especially the JRP.”

“My JRP was a way for me to process what I believed, from starting with my preconceived notions to encountering external source material and then coming to an educated opinion.”

“My junior research paper was a great opportunity for pursuing a topic that interested me. It was an extremely rewarding time of growth in learning how to research and to think on my own.”

“My junior research paper answered a question that I had pondered for many years in my studies… This paper definitely helped me to cultivate a practice of humbling myself to be led by the information and the trails of evidence that I came across.”

“My JRP has challenged me and made me aware of my interest in the study of Christianity in history and how that relates to contemporary culture.”

Award-Winning Research Papers

Many history majors submit research papers, and especially junior research papers, in the college's James G. Jameson Critical Essay Contest. For the past several years, these papers have won awards in various divisions.

In 2016, Abbie Brigham won first place in the Arts, Media, and Communication Division with her paper "L'Homme chretien arme: The Christian Armed Man".

In the Humanities and Theological Studies Division, Rebecca Ito won first place with her paper "God in Our Own Image: Demythologizing Protestant Christianity's Relationship to Nazi Germany".  And Lauren Hawthorne took home the third place price with her paper "The Grimke Sisters: Providing a Voice for Female Abolitionists".

 Jameson Contest Winners 2015

In 2015, (from left to right) Abbie Brigham won first place in the Arts, Media, and Communication Division. Fidelia Renne won third place in the Humanities and Theological Studies Division.


Jameson Contest Winners 2014 

In 2014, (from left to right) James Van Tholen, Meghan Tabor, and Paul Bartow won second, third, and first place, respectively, in the Humanities and Theological Studies Division.


Jameson Contest Winners 2013

In 2013, (from left to right) Zach Zierson won first place and Alyssa Ericson won third place in the Humanities and Theological Studies Division.



See the attached documents for more information on guidelines and grading criteria.

JRP Guidelines (PDF)

JRP Checklist (PDF)

JRP Evaluation Criteria (PDF)