Biography Assignment Guidelines

Biography Assignment Guidelines

It is your responsibility to be prepared on the date that you signed up to present. You cannot make up this assignment.


  • You will be presenting a 5 – 7 minute research presentation on one of the individuals listed in the “Biography Subject” sign-up sheet that was emailed to you. Your time counts towards your grade so you should practice and time yourself to be sure you have the right amount of information.
  • You will create a slide show with images and maps that will illustrate some of the key achievements or moments in your individual’s life. You should have at least 15 slides with historical images and information. Do not waste time or space with slides that are general, or just used as fillers.
  • Along with your slide show, you will write a three-page paper about your individual, which will be the foundation of your presentation.

Thesis: All history papers should have a thesis. This is an argument. You are arguing that the individual is significant in some way. Thesis statements should be specific and qualified.

  • Check out the following link for more information about constructing a thesis statement:

Research Guides: (the research process)

Check out the links posted above. You will find a variety of helpful information about the research process, encyclopedias, books, and article databases. This is the best way to get started.


  • You will need to consult AT LEAST three academic sources for this project. You will be using books and articles. Websites do not count, although they can be a good starting point to find books and articles.
  • The research guide links will get you started.
  • For example, you can look up your individual on Wikipedia if you are not familiar with them. Scroll down to the bottom of the entry and you will see a section titled “References.” Go to those references and check them for yourself. They will count as sources. Wikipedia does not count as a source.
  • Use the catalog to locate books about your source. Some individuals may not have a complete book written about them. That is ok. Think more broadly to find a relevant source. We will also discuss this in class.


Academic articles about your individual can be found in many databases. There are multiple databases listed in the research guide links from the top of the page.

J-Stor is a good place to start. You can find the database J-Stor in the following way:

  1. Go to the NOVA Libraries homepage.
  2. Click on “Articles”.
  3. Click the link “Databases A-Z”
  4. Choose “J”
  5. Choose “J-Stor”. J-Stor is a database of articles from across many subjects and disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
  • If you cannot find an article dedicated only to your individual, broaden your search to the time period, the location, or the type of accomplishment.
  • Other article databases that might contain information can be found by clicking on the research guide links at the top of the page.
  • There are research librarians on call for you at the reference desk at the library. They will help you find sources.

If you visit me during my office hours or make an appointment, I can help to guide you to some sources as well. Check with the research librarians first.


You may use whatever format with which you are familiar. Historians use the Chicago format but many of you are more familiar with MLA, which is fine.

Other helpful websites about writing history papers:
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