Topic of the research paper:
The topic I have chosen to do research on is the Divorce Reform Act of 1969. I believe this is important in British history because it instituted a social change and implemented it into law. I will examine what led to the reform and the effects of the act. I will do that by investigating social changes in gender roles, media portrayal, and the impact on society in Britain. I have chosen this subject because I have a natural interest in how the Divorce Reform Act impacted people and would like a historical understanding of the entire process.
The types of primary sources I will utilize to form my argument will be from: The Guardian, BBC News, the Divorce Reform Act itself from the UK National Archives Cabinet, The Office of National Statistics, and The Sun. I believe the contemporaneous records listed will be able to provide me with enough information to find the answers I am looking for and will give me the basis to complete my project. The sources I listed are essential to completing my project because it will give me the ability to write from different legitimate perspectives on society, government, and media. Another source I will look for are oral accounts of how the Act enabled individuals to submit for a divorce and the effects that resulted thereafter. Further, the newspaper coverage in the British newspaper archives will provide me with the ability to research how the media portrayed divorces in Britain. The published official document of the Divorce Reform Act will give specific details of how the law will be utilized and provide a base for my argument. Additionally, I will look into high profile cases such as the landmark case, White v. White that resulted in the courts granting an equal split of assets based on wealth.
A few of the secondary sources I will use are listed in the bibliography as requested in the assignment instructions. A few databases I have used in preparation for my research on this project are: FrogScholar, LexisNexis Academic, JSTOR, News Bank Inc., and EBSCOhost.
In summary, I am prepared to work on my final project for this course and will use the databases I have listed to provide additional sources for my work. I have an outline and will follow it to produce my interpretation what lead up to the Divorce Reform Act 1969, and what resulted in the law.
Some topics to touch on:
Cost of Government- Benefits, Prisons, Economy
Impact on Children – Education
Urban Neighborhoods - Crime and drugs
Name and title at the top. Must be double spaced New Times Roman font 12. Must have footnotes. Refer to sample paper in other attachment and follow the same format.
Introductory paragraph: Grab the attention and give a road map on where you will go highlighting the big themes of the paper. To alert the people to the so what method.
- Give big course themes and the shift to the era I am writing about.
- At the end of the intro be sure to have the thesis statement.
- How other historians have talked about it. Historiography. This is what we know so far, and talk about other sources and what are their arguments.
- Have like 2 or 3 secondary sources here
- How they talked about my theme or the bigger theme.
- Distill what other historians and scholars have done then towards the end explain why your project is different from theirs. You don’t have to agree and can reject them but you can if you would like. Or maybe something is missing. Or maybe your findings confirm what has been done.
Start off with strong topic sentences that is quick hitting at the beginning of the paragraphs.
The bedrock of the paper is the primary sources.
- There should be at least 10 primary sources.
- Look for patterns in these sources.
- How will these sources hold up
- Use some speeches, cabinet documents, political cartoons.
- Synthesize the sources.
- Should be just a paragraph
- Zoom back out and focus on the Thesis
- Last chance to make a good impression.
- Come back to the quick question, So What?
- Why should we care? Say it here.
- Communicate your findings and say why this is what you ought to know.
Be sure to drive things home.
Primary Source Databases:
Access Newspaper Archive [best for UK newspapers ca. 1980-present]
British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries
British Periodicals Collection I & II [up to about 1920]
Daily Mail Historical Archive
Guardian and the Observer
Irish Newspaper Archives
London Low Life [crime-related topics up to about 1940]
Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975
Times Digital Archive
Two Primary Sources that MUST be used in research paper:
Given the topic I have selected for my research project of the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, many primary sources are available for me to choose from on multiple databases. For the purpose of this assignment I will select two primary sources and explain how I will utilize them in my research.
In my proposal for the assignment, I explained that a major theme of my research would be dedicated to social changes the Divorce Reform Act had on society. One primary source I will use to help support my thesis is an article in The Times by David Walker titled, “Illegitimacy Sours and Divorce at Record Level: Social Trends.” In this article, the author provides critical statistics that I can utilize in my paper. For example, there are listed comparisons of illegitimate births from the 1960s through the 1980s where there was a drastic increase in births outside of marriage. The Divorce Reform Act was passed during an era in Britain when permissiveness had become a phenomenon. This gave way to more compromises when it came to sexuality. Sexual trends began to result in more divorces leading to insurmountable numbers provided in the document. A direct quote I will be sure to recognize in my research paper is: “There were 175,000 divorces in 1985, a record figure and more than double the total in 1971.” Further, the article provides a number of statistics I can incorporate as a result of the act. The last topic in this primary source I will use to help support my argument is the rise of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs). Hundreds of thousands of new cases of STDs were recorded in 1986 as a result of the shift from the Victorian Era to a looser society.
In summary, social changes will serve as a major theme in my research. This primary source will allow me to interpret historical data of illegitimate births, divorces, and STDs to provide my research with evidence of social changes after the act was enacted into law.
The second primary source I will use for my research project will be an article in The Sunday Times titled “Underclass – The Crisis Deepens – Focus,” by Charles Murray. This article covers a common theme of new divorce reform popular with British journalists in early to mid-1990s. This was the result of the Divorce Reform Act of 1969 and the impact it had in Britain. This article points out that the British government in the 1960s did not anticipate the backlash the Act would have on the economy, children, single mothers, and urban communities.
The author gives attribution to the Divorce Reform Act as one of the major reasons the economy was in shambles after the new law was enacted. Women were now able to apply for a divorce regardless of socioeconomic class, and as a result, rates increased every year placing a burden on the government to provide benefits to women of lower economic class. Providing a number of statistics to support his claims will give my research evidence to cover this theme. Further, the author explains that many women were single mothers and divorce played a major role in raising children. The media portrayed children of single mothers growing up in a hostile environment leading to crime. The author makes claims that environments these families typically lived in were in lower class urban communities and infested with drugs and high crime rates. “From 1987 to 1992 property crime in England and Wales rose by 42%.” In most cases children in these communities who were involved with crime and drugs would end up in the legal system resulting in imprisonment. These implications led to even more costs levied on the government. An insight I will add to this process with the assistance of other primary sources is the lack of education in these high crime environments. My interpretation of this article will help me depict the costly effect of high rates of divorce and its impact on British society after the Act.