Essay About A Historical Figure

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Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

Created with CAST's UDL Book Builder

5 Steps to Writing an Historical Essay

Written by Liz Cooksey

High School Social Studies Teacher

     The purpose of this guide is to walk a high school student through an easy step-by-step process of writing an historical essay.

     Writing an essay for history is not necessarily the same as it may be for an English class.

    Through the next few pages we will cover a basic overview of the process while also pointing out some "do's and don'ts" of writing an historical essay.


Step 1: Brainstorm

 Once you have read the question or prompt, you must determine the key points you will need to address and then brainstorm ideas that will support your points.


Step 2: Create a Thesis Statement

The purpose of a thesis is to summarize the key arguements of your essay into one firm statement. Strong thesis statements usually need to include about 3 points that you intend to prove through the essay.

When coming up with your thesis for a historical essay there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to include specific examples that you will later discuss in detail
  • Do not use 1st person
  • Do not write refer to "this essay"


Step 3: Create an Introduction Paragraph

Creating an introduction paragraph becomes more easy once the thesis has been determined. The purpose of this paragraph is only to introduce your ideas, not describe in detail or length.  

When writing your introduction there are a few ideas you need to keep in mind:

  • Open with a broad statement
  • Each sentence should get a little more specific and detailed, but not actually discussing the content of the essay.
  • The introduction paragraph should conclude with the thesis you have already constructed.


  Some people may prefer to write their thesis first as we have done here, or some may choose to begin writing their introduction paragraph and then figure out the thesis as they get there. Neither way is wrong!

Step 4: Write the Body

The majority of your work will appear here, in the body of the essay. This will usually be a minimum of 3 paragraphs (more or less depending on how many points included in you thesis).

Between each major idea you need to use creatively phrased transition statements that allow the flow of the essay to not be disrupted.

The key to a good body portion of your essay is to remember to only discuss 1 major idea per paragraph. Make districtions between you major ideas in order to help support your thesis.

Step 5: Conclusion

The conclusion is the easiest part of your essay. Here you should wrap up you main ideas that you have thoroughly discussed and argued throughout your body paragraphs.

Make sure not to introduce any new points here. this is simply to close out your final thoughts. You should, however, restate the ideas from  your thesis within the conclusion paragraph.

Here is a visual representation of what your essay should look like:

Several pointers for writing your essay:


  • DON’T use 1st person
    • No “I” “me” “we” “us"


  • Don’t use definitive's…
    • “never” “always”


  • Don’t say it unless you are SURE!!!
    • If you aren’t, then phrase is as “likely”


Here are a few phrases that may help you out as you begin to write:

What do you do now???




Follow these 5 steps and you'll be sure to impress your history teacher with your historical writing skills!

Here you can read historical figure essay samples about Otto Von Bismarck and Adolf Hitler. The first one is supposed to answer the question and the second one to comment on the statement. You may be assigned to finish a completely different task, but the requirements will remain the same. You will be asked to write a historical figure essay that meets one of the formatting styles’ requirements and instructor’s expectations. Look through the samples we’ve posted for you to be sure you know how similar papers should be written and analyzed.

You can count on our writers as well if your deadlines don’t give you any choice. They will complete a paper sample for you within the shortest deadline.

Historical Figure Essay: The One about Otto Von Bismarck

Why Did Otto Von Bismarck Dislike Colonies?

The Iron Chancellor (1815 – 1898), as they called him, was the first ruler of united Germany and the founder of the German empire. His role in history was very important: he transformed small German states into the single great empire, and that is the reason historians consider him one of the most powerful figures in history. The plan he had was to build a strong state based on a strong feeling of national identity, and he made it, he created Germany we know today.

In that time, Europe had five strong stands, and they were Germany, France, Britain, Russia and Austria. Diplomacy was the key for a good rulership, according to Bismarck, so Germany, Austria, and Russia signed Dreikaiserbund, or League of the Three Emperors, in 1873. He was very committed to keeping the peace in Europe, so he hadn’t ambitious in involving in the Scramble for Africa because he assumed that colonial expansion could make problems in good diplomatic relations he had with other European countries.

And actually, an answer to a question why Bismarck disliked colonies lies in diplomacy. The Iron Chancellor acquired some African colonies (Togo, the Cameroons, Tanzania, and Namibia) which had the size five times bigger than Germany, but, in fact, they were really poor. Bismark didn’t see any good reason for expanding German territory in Africa because it could seriously harm the balance in Europe and on the other hand the investment in colonies wasn’t really worth it.

Otto von Bismarck created a powerful empire, and all he cared about was to keep it safe and strong. Thanks to his intellect and strong will: he actually did it.


BBC. (2014) Otto von Bismarck.
Retrieved from Staff. (2009). OTTO VON BISMARCK.
Retrieved from

Stephen Tonge. Bismarck’s Foreign Policy 1871-1890.
Retrieved from

Historical Figure Essay: The One about Hitler

Comment on the fact that Hitler was the man of the year in 1938 according to the Time magazine

Former Nazi Germany dictator Adolf Hitler is perhaps the most notorious figure in modern history. His life, ideology, and atrocities are so thoroughly documented that he has become a cultural icon, the embodiment of evil. However, a lesser-known fact about the Fürher is that in 1938 – just two months after “Hitler’s Henchmen were unleashed on the German Jewish community” — he was honored by Time magazine with the title of  “Man of the Year” (Samaan, 2013, p. 85). This is surprising given the current perception of the award. It is often considered to be prestigious and reserved for leaders, philanthropist, activist, and public figures who have made a positive impact on world affairs. However, it is important to remember that this is not how Time magazine understands the award. As Time magazine has pointed out, in an article titled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Time’s Person of the Year,” they are looking for “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about that year” (Conniff, 2014). This sentiment is certainly evident in their 1938 selection – as well as in their naming of Stalin in both 1939 and 1942. Moreover, I would argue that according to Time’s definition, Hitler certainly fits the description of “Man of the Year,” and after reading the article, it’s apparent that it is not always an honor to hold this title.

According to the original article, Time magazine makes it clear that Hitler in addition to being “the world’s No. 1 International Revolutionist,” fixed Germany’s unemployment problem, unified Austria and Germany, and created an overall more unified Germany. However, the original article does not portray Hitler as a positive force. They call him “moody, brooding” and “unprepossessing,” and say that in Nazi Germany the “genius of free wills has been stifled by the oppression of dictatorship” making the “output of poetry, prose, music, philosophy, art…meagre indeed” (“Adolph Hitler,” 1939, p. 3). They mention the physical torturing of Jews and close the article with this statement: “To those who watched the closing events of the year it seemed more than probable that the Man of 1938 may make 1939 a year to be remembered” (p. 7). With this prophecy, who could argue that Time did not accurately identify the most influential man of the year?


Adolf Hitler: Man of the Year, 1938. (1939). Time Magazine. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from,9171,760539-1,00.html

Conniff, K. (2014, December 9). Everything You Wanted to Know About TIME’s Person of the Year. Time Magazine. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from

Samaan, A. E. (2013). From a “Race of Masters” to a “Master Race”: 1948 to 1848.


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