United States History II Honors

Document Based Question (DBQ) Paper

Ms. Krall

Objective of the Paper

You are required for this class to answer a Document Based Question (DBQ) that deals with a particular event or era of American History. Your first assignment will cover Imperialism and World War I.

What is a Document Based Question?

The purpose of a DBQ is to give the student the opportunity to synthesize information about a particular event or era in history by evaluating primary sources from that time period. Therefore, by using these documents students will be able to argue the validity of that historical question posed to them. What makes this DBQ different from a standard DBQ that would be given on an AP exam is that you, the student must come up with five (5) documents on your own to support your thesis/topic sentence

Some Examples of Primary sources:


Court Case rulings





Official Declarations


Presidential Addresses

Public records

Art, literature, music

News articles


Political Cartoons

Helpful hints when you receive your DBQ

1.  Read over your statement. Do background research on the time period that the DBQ covers.

2.  Once you gain an understanding of the event/time period, begin to research documents from that time period to support the DBQ.

3.  When you write your paper, first identify your thesis and then analyze the documents to support your thesis.

Your term paper will be 5 pages in length (12 font double spaced) with correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Do not squash in the margins, increase the type size, or triple space your text just to make it 5 pages long. If you are taking this much effort to make it longer, try thinking more about the documents you are writing about!

You will supply a title page and bibliography. You will cite your information using parenthetical citations.

I have zero tolerance for plagiarism. If any part of your paper is plagiarized your will receive a failing grade and a discipline referral if necessary. Therefore I will be collecting your research notes and copies of your documents along with your paper.

Note on citing information and research:

One of the goals in writing a research paper is to gain the ability to extract primary and secondary sources, analyze those sources, and come to some sort of valid conclusion with your writing. Therefore your research will be a combination of books and websites. These websites should end in .org, .edu, .gov, or .mil. The validity of .com websites are few and far between and are not recommended. If you choose to use a .com website it must be approved by Ms. Krall.

Encyclopedias and Wikipedia are not allowed to be used in your paper. You should be focusing on primary source information and serious secondary sources- like your textbook!

Your term paper is worth 150 points and you will be graded on content, argument, grammar, and spelling. Manage your time wisely! Papers not handed in on the final due date will be lowered one letter grade. Your paper is due October 21st!


1.  Assess the validity of this statement: One of the ironies of World War I was that in a war 'to make the world safe for democracy,' the government attacked the civil liberties that make democracy possible.

2.  Using documents and your knowledge of this topic, evaluate the circumstances that led to the shift in the American position regarding entrance into World War I.

3.  Evaluate both the positive and negative effects of imperialism.

4.  Assess the validity of this statement: American expansion beyond North America was a departure from Earlier American policies which many Americans considered justifiable.

5.  Was imperialism a legitimate policy for the United States to follow at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries?

6.  To what extent did World War 1 impact American Society? Use the documents and your knowledge of the years 1914-1928 to construct your response.