Choosing a Topic of Historical Significance
A topic that has to do with your community's history lends itself well to a research paper. Many times there are museums or historical sites where you can conduct research. The town or city hall is another good resource. Newspapers contain a wealth of information, and you can easily search them. You can quickly locate pictures from local sources, or you may be able to photograph or draw something yourself. Local residents can add more insight to your topic. You can discuss why your topic is significant and how the people or events in question affected the present or will affect the future. In short, local historical topics can be ideal.
Your Town's History
Begin by finding a brief history of your town. If you don't know much about it, ask if your local tourism office or chamber of commerce has this information. Museums and historical places of interest also can provide a more in-depth history. As you learn this history, think about the events and how they shaped your town. Major events, both naturally occurring (such as a tornado or drought) and human-made (like the railroad being built through town, or a big company pulling out of the area) can have a long-lasting effect. A lot of these events will trigger ideas for topics.
Certain people from your town's past also are a good source of topic ideas. Commonly, these are the well-known people for whom various landmarks around town are named; they are the residents who contributed something of value to their community or were influential in some way. Don't limit yourself to the better-known citizens, however. If you can dig up information on a more intriguing person from the past, it can make for a very interesting research paper.
Don't forget to make use of the memories of some of the long-term residents of your community. Friends, neighbors, and relatives might be able to vividly recall important events from years ago. This could save you from spending hours trying to uncover an interesting historical event. You'll be doing something nice for someone, too—elderly residents often welcome an opportunity to share their memories.