Fall 2021 - HIST 200 D100

Making History: Introduction to Historical Research (3)

Class Number: 4348

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Fri, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



Learning history by doing history. Introduction to a historical problem, and learning how to build and defend a historical interpretation through the analysis of primary and secondary sources. Small seminar format will allow hands-on experience developing research, writing, and presentation skills applicable to other history courses. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


In History 200 we will do more than read about history; we will do history. Using historical documents related to a single incident in the past, we will reconstruct what happened, why it happened, what it meant to people at the time, and why it is significant and worth understanding today. By the end of the course, the class as a whole will have produced an original contribution to our understanding of the past.  The incident we will be examining happened in January 1811 near New Orleans, Louisiana, when dozens, if not hundreds, of enslaved peoples engaged in the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. As we investigate the revolt’s causes and its larger context, we will learn about African-American life in the early nineteenth century, just as slavery was undergoing a great expansion across the deep southern states.  

The main objective of this course is not to learn “facts” about the history of slavery or the United States, however, but for you to acquire the skills of historical thinking: deciphering historical records to explain cause and effect, understanding how information is produced and circulated, appreciating the influence of larger historical contexts on everyday life, and developing your own interpretation of the past that is historically sound, based on careful use of all the available evidence. 

Weekly Schedule & Readings

Many class meetings will be broken in two halves. During the first half (10:30-11:50), we will meet in our assigned classroom and discuss the readings. After a 10-minute break, we will reconvene at 12:00 in either Bennett Library or the Department of History's Oral History Lab for workshops to learn about specific research tools we will be using to construct the multimedia exhibit as well as to work on specific aspects of the website.


Upon the successful completion of this course, you will:

  1. Become an expert on the 1811 German Coast uprising
  2. Understand the conceptual and theoretical issues involved with trying to recover the historical experiences of those usually left out of the history books
  3. Develop critical research skills, including finding and evaluating information in print and online, developing a research topic, and formulating a historical argument
  4. Develop effective communication skills in a variety of modes: written, oral, visual, and electronic
  5. Acquire the skills necessary to work with technology both independently and collaboratively



In HIST 200 we will be producing our own archive of primary sources of the 1811 uprising which we will then use, along with secondary readings, to create a multimedia exhibit that represents our historical interpretation of this slave rebellion. Your original contributions to the archive and exhibit will include annotated primary sources, timeline and mapping entries, biographies of people involved in the revolt, and thematic essays on one aspect of the uprising. You will also participate in peer editing of the exhibit and keep a reflective journal on the process of research and website building. Class participation will also be factored into your grade for the course. The relative weighting of these assignments will be decided by the class at the beginning of the semester.



The Confessions of Nat Turner and Related Documents, ed. Kenneth Greenberg (Bedford Books, 2017, 2nd edition)

Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martínez (illustrator), Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts (Simon & Schuster, 2021)

Available at the SFU Bookstore and on reserve at Bennett Library. Additional readings will be distributed via Canvas.


Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (we will only be reading about ¼ of this book; it also available online through the SFU Library catalog)

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.