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1920 Topic Essays

Are you a curious novelist exploring uncharted genres or are you a current writer of the past seeking new adventures?

Whatever your purpose, these 40 historical writing prompts, partnered with a collection of vintage photographs, are guaranteed to help you get ideas, transcend to an inspiring era and help you to write your own piece of history.

1. The Lonely Lighthouse

As a survivor of a massive sea storm, you seek safety inside of a mysterious 19th century lighthouse off the coast of Cornwall. Describe the fascinating (or frightening) discoveries that await inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Behind Enemy Lines

It’s 1864, and the United States is in the middle of a Civil War. Write a scene in which an undercover Union soldier passes through a quaint southern town brimming with Confederate rebels. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Fire at the Factory

Imagine you’re an Irishman working at a factory in the 1930s. It’s your first day on the job. Without having the proper training, you accidentally set fire to the plant. Write a mock report of how the fire started and how your character escaped fault.

 

 

 

 

4. The Traveling Circus Clown

It’s 1925, and the circus has come to town. Write an accident story involving one of the star performers with an ironic twist where it is up to one of the spectators to save the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The French Ruler

Write a chapter in the point of view of an English spy who attempts murder during Louis XIV’s coronation in 17th century France. How does your tyrant plan to execute their mission and are they successful?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Swan Lake

A group of close friends meet for the last time before going in separate ways in 1940s England. Write a scene about their last moment together.  Do they make a pact to see each other again in 10 years or do they reminisce back in time to the day they first met?

 

 

 

 

7. Sailing Away

In 1950s Charleston, South Carolina, two teenagers escape the troubles of boyhood to go on an adventure of a lifetime. What conflict do they have with each other as they go on their voyage and where do they go?

 

 

 

 

 

 





8. The Dinner Bell

See what’s cooking in this 1940s California kitchen. Imagine you are a food columnist for the local newspaper. Write a mock interview and include a secret family recipe that accidentally gets leaked.

 

 

 

 

9. Egypt

Write a story about a female archaeologist from 19th century England who meets a gentleman on an expedition who claims that he was once an Egyptian pharaoh.

 

 

 

 

10. Aerial View Beach

As an airplane pilot you are much more aware of what’s happening in the sky rather than the ground. Write a scene where the pilot flies over a beach and spots a crowd of beach-goers flocking to the surf. Do a 15 minute freewrite of what you see in the water.

 

 

11. Turquoise Waters 

You are an inhabitant on a tropical Mediterranean island. One day you go out for a stroll along the cliffs when you notice a strange ship across the waters coming toward your home. Write one chapter where you describe who’s on board the ship and what they want. Are they friends or enemies?

 

 

 

 

12. Kooky Cribs

Write a story about an orphaned child in the 1970s that meets a strange family who resides in an even stranger house on the California coast.

 

 

 

 

 

13. He’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain

Write a scene about a family man traveling through a mountain pass in 19th century Oregon, unaware of what’s coming fast around the corner. Write a paragraph of how he connects fate with destiny.

 

 

14. Block Party

Extra! Extra! Write a scene about a group gathering in the streets of Chicago, Illnois in the 19th century. Are employees going on strike? Are women fighting for equal rights against men? Or are people cheering for the one person that could lead a hopeless village to a brighter future?

 

 

 

15. The Butler Did It

Write one chapter about a female housekeeper who explores her master’s study in 19th century France. What all does she discover and is it something that she rather not have wished to find?

 

 

 

 

16. The Long Journey Home

Write a story about a boy who ran from home after revealing a scandalous family secret that should have been kept jan drugs canada under lock and key. Now a man, fifteen years later, he’s returned home only to discover that there is still unrest after his plaguing mishap.

 

 

 

 

17. On Top of God’s Mountains

Write one chapter from the point of view of a 1970s mountain climber in Colorado, who discovers a brick hut on top of a mountain. Is it inhabited or is there a certain relic which transcends him to a different era?

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. The Road to Nowhere

Do a quick free write in the point of view of a homeless civilian who discovers a suspicious alleyway during 1929 of The Great Depression that leads to a grand (or horrific) revelation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. Buffalo Dreams

Write a journal entry in the point of view of a female pioneer of her abduction by the Sioux Indian tribe in the early 19th century.

 

 

 

 

 

20. Oriental Ornaments

Write a story in which an ornament on a Christmas tree tells the story of a different era in time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21. Handle with Care

Write an outline about the adventures of four men, who meet as young postmen during WWII. What are their backstories? Give them features, disagreements, and opposing traits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

22. The Lion Tamer

Write a character profile of a wealthy 19th century English banker, who was once a lion tamer in a past life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23. Beauty Mark

Write a robbery scene that takes place in a popular jewelry boutique in 1960s New York. Is the jewel thief a stealthy shoplifter or a glass-shattering maniac? Does the crime take place at night when the store is closed or during business hours? And how does the robber know the jewelry store owner?

 

24. War Hero

Write a scene where an undercover WWII American sneaks into a German radio room to send a message that could prove fatal to the enemy — if he isn’t caught.

 

 

 

 

25. Hotel of Haunts

Write a flash fiction story from the point of view of an owner of a hotel that is famous for being haunted by characters from the Roaring Twenties.

 

 

 

 

 

26. Let’s Shake On It

Write a story about a man who purchases a 1920 Ford Model T and discovers that the car has a life of its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

27. Baskets, Anyone?

Write a story about a 1980s New Yorker looking for adventure, who purchases a basket from an eccentric city merchant and discovers an item inside that takes the character back in time to 15th century Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

28. Poker Face

There’s no rules in this card game. Describe the high stakes for this card game in 1800s England. Does the winner wind up wishing he had lost?

 

 

 

 

 

29. The Diner

Write a story about a drifter passing through only to stop at a lone 1940s diner to get some lunch, but unintentionally ends up staying much longer than expected.

 

 

 

 

 

30. A Man’s Best Friend

Write a story about a boy and a stray dog and their many adventures as a famous motor racer in 1920s America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

31. Dear . . .

Write a letter from the point of view of a solider writing to his family during the Vietnam War.

 

 

 

 

 

32. Once Upon a Time

Write a story about a contemporary novelist who physically appears into his Victorian England drama and falls for his female protagonist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33. The Kiss

Write a love story about a female WWII veteran who saves a fireman from a burning movie theater in 1940s New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34. Cabin Fever

Write a story of a pioneer family from the city starting their new life on the Organ Trail in the 1800s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

35. Under the Weather

Write a story about an underrated scientist that turns out to have better ideas than most of his colleagues in 19th century Germany.

 

 

 

 

36. Summer Dreams

Write a story about five teenagers who first meet at a summer camp, and how their lives continue to intertwine throughout the years in 1950s Florida. 

 

 

 

 

 

37. Fore!

Game on. Write a scene in which two enemies learn to become best friends in a game of golf in 1920s Virginia. Are there any bets being made? Why do the two boys appear so mischievous?

 

 

 

 

38. Fort Knox

Write a diary entry of an infantry solider in the Revolutionary War who is on guard at his post when there is a sudden attack on his fort.

 

 

 

 

39. The Rogue

Write a character profile of a wayward Englishmen who treats the rules of proper Victorian England society like it’s a game.

 

 

 

 

40. The Highwayman

Write a scene in which the passengers of this motor car are stopped by a mysterious rider in the 1920s English countryside.

 

 

 

 

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Creative WritingFictionHistorical FictionHistorywritingWriting Prompts

The United States is so rich in history and culture making it very interesting to study and consequently one of the top research paper topics for college students. Research papers on recent events though, especially in the 20th century, can be quite hard to write with the lack of perspective and the differing opinions of experts with regard to the events.

  • On the abandonment of restrictive fashion of previous eras in favor of more comfortable clothing in the modern era;

  • On the Hiroshima bombing in 1945 which was considered to be a year of beginnings and endings;

  • On the Anthracite Coal Strike in 1902 and the effects of the coal mines on coal miners;

  • On the Black Power Movement and the fight for civil rights;

  • On the Chicano Movement in the 1960s for the Spanish-Californians and their fight for civil rights;

  • On the factors that led to the Great Depression in the late 1920s;

  • On establishing Veteran’s day to commemorate the end of World War 1 which was declared to be the war that ended all wars;

  • On the rise of organized crimes in the 1920s after the 18th amendment made it illegal to manufacture, transport, or sell alcohol;

  • On the War Power Act which limited presidential military authority; and

  • On the Women’s Christian Temperance Union regulating the consumption of alcohol at the time when women had limited legal rights.

  • Writing research paper topics about United States history or even writing a research paper, in general can get really tedious. This is why students often hire professional writers to do the dirty work for them – from doing the research to writing it down accordingly into a cohesive and comprehensive piece of research work.

  • Thesis. Pick a topic that is relevant to the general public and actually calls for an answer to real world questions. Avoid writing down summaries and narratives. Instead, argue your point and substantiate them accordingly with credible references in research papers.

  • Bibliography. A research paper requires a lot of research which means you will have to go through relevant primary and secondary sources.

  • Outline. It can either be a broad general guide or a very detailed plan, whichever works better for you. This allows you to check easily your progress and re-order parts as needed. This will also help you manage your time and ensure you submit on or before the deadline, with enough time to finalize and perfect the research paper.

  • Title. The title obviously has to give the readers an idea of what the paper would be about. Choose a title that suggests a question or a debate that you will be addressing in the paper.

  • Introduction. Start strong to convince your readers to read on. The introduction should introduce the argument and present some historical context of the issue.

  • Argument. Arguments without evidence to prove them are hearsays and will not hold water. Make sure that each argument you make is substantiated with appropriate and credible references that are properly cited. Again, do not just summarize and narrate the data and information you have gathered. Make sure to analyze the facts.

  • Conclusion. Summarize the entire argument at the end and add the value or reason of your research paper. It should reinforce the relevance of your research paper and convince your readers to actually act on the matter.

  • Style. Write in clear, concise English and avoid colloquial English or slang. In writing about history, make sure to use the past tense all throughout the paper.

  • Paragraphs. Each paragraph should contain one major point that will advance your argument.

  • Quotations. Keep all quotes short because what is important is your analyses and your thoughts on the subject matter. Remember to acknowledge the source of all direct quotations in the footnotes. Check with your instructor on which citation style guide to use. Otherwise, there are several style guides you can choose from.

  • Annotation. You can use either footnotes or endnotes, but never both. As already mentioned, you would have to check with your instructor on which citation style guide to use. In any case, the standard guides are M.L.A. or the Chicago style.

  • Revisions. Make sure to edit and proofread your first draft more than once. You can also ask other people to edit your work for fresh eyes. Make sure to look into your spelling, grammar, and writing style. These are the little details with big effects.

  • Technical desiderata. Research paper assignments usually go with instructions but absent these instructions, do provide a cover sheet and number pages.

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