|Writing a chronology can be difficult. Before you begin to read, be sure you have a good grasp of the events in question. Study your textbook for a basic explanation of the period, then explore the sources that follow and note the most important persons and events. |
Pay special attention to the geography involved as you explore alliances, treaties, and international diplomacy. Germany's discomfort over the Franco-Russian Alliance makes much more sense if you have a clear understanding where each of these countries exist physically. We recommend that you find a map in your text, or print Europe after the Congress of Berlin and/or Europe before World War I to accompany your study.
As you review your text or other secondary sources, make a tentative list of the most important figures, events, and treaties you encounter. Take careful notes about their importance, and always remember to write down where you found the information.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the alliances which shaped this era, look at some of the documents themselves. How are the treaties worded? What does correspondence between international leaders teach you about the conflicts? Take some time and find documents that relate to the items that you have already decided are important. Keep in mind that you want to start with the earliest documents (which will come first in your chronology), and then go to more recent ones. Take good notes on the important material and note how it relates to your assignment. Do you agree with the secondary sources you read? Have you encountered documents or events which you feel they should have included? What are they? (Again, whenever you take a note, jot down the source of that information in a full citation and you'll save yourself much grief in the final stages of your project. Go to the Primary Sources.
Now you should have some detailed notes on the alliance system which many historians feel was a direct cause of World War I and II. Arrange your material in chronological order, then narrow down which twenty items you feel are most important. Use the information and citations you've gathered to construct one paragraph identifying each item on your chronology. If you feel you need more information or data, visit Other Sources.
Last of all, draw your conclusions about the alliance system in Europe. Did this system prove the driving force behind World War I or would other tensions and incidents have provoked the conflict without such alliances? Defend your position.
Thanks to Dr. Thomas Pearcy for this project's concept.
For writing and research helps, visit W.W. Norton's Webworks.