Published Date

January 1, 2016

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom


Economic, Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education



This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project.


By Sarah Grunder

Institution: Suffolk County Community College

Location: Brookhaven, NY

Year: 2016

This paper assignment has three major parts: a list of sources for you to read and study along with guiding questions on each reading; a mapping exercise; and the five page paper. All three parts will be turned in for grading on the due date listed on the course syllabus. This project is worth 20 percent of your final course grade. You must include all parts of the assignment; failure to include all three parts will result in a zero for the entire assignment.

Parts of the Paper Assignment:

  1. Reading and Assessing the Sources – Read the assigned sources for your commodity (you get to choose which item you’ll focus your study on). Each commodity has 1-2 primary sources and 2–4 secondary sources that you need to study and analyze.
    1. For each primary source, you’ll fill out a “Six C’s of Primary Source Analysis” worksheet (these are available on D2L)
    2. For each secondary source, you’ll address questions on the secondary source worksheet.
      1. All worksheets must be attached to the end of your paper.
  2. Mapping Commodity Encounters – On the blank map you’ll trace your commodity around the Atlantic or Pacific based on your primary and secondary source readings. Among the items you should mark and include (based on the material provided in your assigned reading, the course reading, lecture material, etc.):
    1. Origin of your item (and rough dates)
    2. Where the item traveled (draw lines tracing its movement around the world) – include rough dates
    3. What encounters did your item involve (between people around the Atlantic or Pacific); when did these encounters take place?
      1. You may chart these items on a single map or chart each one on a different map. Colors, how you incorporate information, etc. is entirely up to you.
      2. However, your handwriting needs to be neat and legible. If you have terrible handwriting (and I suffer from this myself), you should type up written information and tape it onto your map/along the lines you draw.
  3. The Five Page Paper – The final piece of this assignment is a five page paper that draws from your sources, the maps, as well as lecture and class reading materials. This is a formal history paper and should include proper, footnoted, sources (see the student checklist and syllabus for more information on this). In your paper you’ll address the following:
    • What was the importance of (your commodity: Pacific fur/whaling OR sugar) in shaping encounters between people, events/politics of the era, labor systems, and the environment?
      1. Your thesis should focus on the importance of the commodity, what encounters it shaped in the Atlantic/Pacific, and how it shaped events. Your thesis must be underlined in your paper.
      2. Body paragraphs should focus on tracing the development of the commodity and providing evidence for the importance of the commodity, the encounters it shaped in the Atlantic/Pacific, and its effect on events, labor, and the environment in the era.
        1. You must use specific evidence from the assigned texts (see below) for your chosen commodity.
        2. You are not allowed – under any circumstances – to consult internet sources for this assignment.

Choosing your commodity: Below is a list of the commodities (and the required reading that goes along with each) that you must choose from in preparing this project. You must choose ONE of these commodities. You may NOT write about more than one commodity.

Please note: All primary sources are available on D2L (via pdf or through links). Secondary source books and chapters are available on reserve at the Ammerman campus library or through purchase (cheap copies may be had on Amazon and other online retailers – I’d encourage you, if you are able, to purchase). Some econdary source articles are available on D2L as pdfs or through JSTOR/Project Muse on the library’s website.

  1. Sugar
    1. Primary Sources
      1. “A Portrait of Barbados”
        1. Pdf on D2L
    2. Secondary Sources
      1. Alan Taylor, “Chapter 10: The West Indies” in American Colonies: The Settling of North America
        1. Pdf on D2L
      2. Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History
        1. On reserve at the Ammerman campus library or cheap copies available for purchase online (recommended)
  2. Trade in the Pacific: Whaling/Furs
    1. Primary Sources
      1. Charles Newhall. The Adventures of Jack, or a Life on the Wave. Short, easy, engaging memoir first published by the author in 1859. (Ye Galleon Press, 1981)
        1. This is available on Google Books
    2. Secondary Sources
      1. David Igler, “Chapter 4: The Great Hunt,” in The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush
        1. Pdf is on D2L
      2. Paul Mapp, “The Alluring Pacific Ocean,” in Morgan and Warsh, eds., Early North America In Global Perspective
        1. Pdf is on D2L
      3. Alan Taylor, “Chapter 19: The Pacific, 1760-1820”
        1. Pdf is on D2L