History of Money
For your midterm, you will write a research report on a historical currency of your choice. Your report
is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, October 12th. It must be at least five full pages,
double-spaced. The paper will count for 25% of your final grade.
CHOOSING YOUR TOPIC
Choose any country, region, or people in history (ancient, medieval, or modern) and trace their
development of money and credit over the course of at least two centuries. The only country you may
not select is the United States: we will detail the history of the dollar later in the latter half of this
If your country of choice is a relatively new country, you must still report on at least two centuries of
monetary history. For example, if you wish to report on currency in modern Vietnam, you must also
include a section on what the currency looked like during the French colonial period. If you choose
modern Iran, you must also include a section on the Persian Empire from the nineteenth century. If you
choose the Czech Republic, you must include a section on the period when it was part of the AustroHungarian Empire and another section on the period when it was a satellite state of the Soviet Union.
Because the paper will span a period of at least two centuries, one of the predominant themes will be
change over time. How did the currency change over the years, decades, and centuries? Choose a
country or region with a demonstrable alteration in its currency and/or credit system over time.
RESEARCHING YOUR TOPIC
Sources are absolutely central to the historian’s craft. Historians use sources much like a scientist uses
data when generating and testing hypotheses. Sources are what permit us to generate a narrative,
interpretation, and argument regarding a particular event or period.
Your report must include at least five sources. Of those five, at least three must be from a book or
an academic journal article. You may, if you choose, select three books and no journal articles, or three
journal articles and no books, or a 2-1 combination. The rest of your sources may come from reputable
websites or news articles (including articles from reputable sites).
You do not have to include primary sources (materials produced in the time period under study), but
if you do, any of the following sources are appropriate: diaries, letters, newspaper editorials, speeches,
As you read your sources, take notes! This will save you time later. Jot down or type any information
into your notes that you think you may find useful once you start writing your paper. Organize your
notes by topic. Having notes in front of you while writing will make things much, much easier.
Do not fall into the trap of reading and research so much that you avoid getting started on the writing.
After you have a sufficient amount of information, begin writing. You can fill in the smaller gaps of
your research later if need be. You should aim to be done with your research by the end of September.
Do not hesitate to connect with an ASU librarian: https://lib.asu.edu/librarians. The librarians are
experts at finding the right kind of sources you need, and they are happy and eager to help. Take
advantage of it!
Finding journal articles on your subject:
The easiest way to find a journal article on your subject is to search JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/): a
digital database of academic journals dating back more than one hundred years. Magazine articles and
non-academic journals do not count as academic journals. Another good database is Project MUSE:
https://muse.jhu.edu/. Be sure to log into your ASU account to have full access to these database.
Finding books on your subject:
 ASU library catalogue
 Browse the library shelf that aligns with your country and time period. You may find the shelf by
getting the call number for any historical book on your country and period. Often times, a good book
for your topic may not show up on a simple search through the online catalogue.
 If your book was published many decades ago, there is a good chance that the book is free
online. Check https://archive.org/ or https://books.google.com.
 If you cannot find a book on your subject in the ASU catalogue, visit http://www.worldcat.org/.
WorldCat is a catalogue that searches the collections of all of the libraries in the United States. If you
find a book located at another library outside of ASU, order the book via Interlibrary Loan. For more
on how to use this free service, visit https://libguides.asu.edu/interlibraryloan. Books generally arrive
within a week of your order, and are available for pickup at Hayden Library.
 Check the footnotes and bibliographies of other books, articles, or websites. You might find a
book listed there that did not turn up in any of your previous searches.
A note on books: a good book for your topic may not necessarily have “money,” “banking,” or
“currency” in its title. If you wish to research the history of money in Nigeria, for example, your best
bet might be a more general book on Nigeria. Then check the back of the index for key words: chances
are, there are several paragraphs or pages on finance and currency.
Another note on books: you do not necessarily need to read the entire book. Learn to intelligently
scan books and journal articles for information most pertinent to your topic. You do not need to
meticulously read every single line or paragraph in the text.
Websites are generally reputable if they end in .gov or .edu, and websites ending in .org are often
reputable but may require more judgment.
You may use wikipedia to help you get started, BUT do not use wikipedia as your main source and do
not count wikipedia as one of your five sources. In fact, do not cite it at all. Wikipedia can be a very
valuable resource; however, its value lies in acting as a portal to the real sources that the wikipedia
article is based upon. If you read through a wikipedia article on your subject, check the references at
the bottom of the page, then visit those references and get the information from that source. If the
information on wikipedia does not include any citations, it may not be accurate, so do not use it.
While we are on the subject of wikipedia: a mere paraphrasing (or rewording) of a wikipedia article, at
best, will greatly lower your grade, and if the paraphrasing is severe, it crosses over into outright
plagiarism. That includes if you paraphrase the wikipedia article and then simply copy the references
into your paper without having actually checked them.
The policy in this class for wikipedia is necessarily and regrettably ambiguous. Not permitting it at all
is unrealistic. Nor is it desirable: many scholars use wikipedia in a proper way, and many academics
(including yours truly) have edited wikipedia articles and made other contributions to the site. If you’re
unsure whether or not your use of wikipedia crosses that prohibited line, just ask!
WRITING YOUR PAPER
Prior to writing your paper, sketch out an outline of what you plan to write. Include main points and
subpoints in your outline. On the basis of this outline, begin writing. (This is only recommended; I will
not grade or collect any outline).
The format of your paper should include:  introduction paragraph;  body paragraphs (the
meat of the paper);  conclusion.
The introductory paragraph should lay out the main theme of the paper, including your thesis
statement. It should touch on all the principal points you will make in the body of the paper.
For example, if you were permitted to report on the history of the U.S. dollar, you might make your
introduction akin to something like this: “Starting with only a small handful of banks and a gold and
silver currency in 1790s, the United States became a nation, first, of many hundreds of different
banknotes in the nineteenth century, all backed by gold and silver. By the mid- to late-twentieth
century, the United States boasted the world’s most robust and powerful financial sector on the globe,
coupled with a central bank that issued a fiat dollar that became the world’s most dominant reserve
currency. The history of the United States dollar mirrors the country’s equally momentous
transformation in economic and geopolitical relations and affairs.”
The conclusion should pull together your main points and consolidate your argument. The
conclusion should restate your thesis, explain concisely how your paper supports it, and affirm the
wider significance of your work.
Topic sentences: the first sentence of every paragraph should tell the reader what to expect from the
rest of the paragraph. The other sentences in the paragraph should flesh out the subject or idea that you
set forth in the topic sentence. The final sentence of the paragraph should provide a smooth transition
to the next paragraph.
Consider the interplay of currency with social and cultural change, politics, and economic progress
or decline. While currency is clearly the focus of your paper, it is important to note in your paper
(briefly) of any major political and societal changes that take place. Do not allot too much space to
matters unrelated directly to money, but do not neglect it entirely either: a few sentences are fine but
avoid whole paragraphs.
In your paper, do not get caught up in small, arcane, or intricate details. For example, do not spend
a long time detailing the precise history of a particular banking institution. Do not spend a long time
detailing the precise weights of gold and silver coins. Only include the necessary information that will
give me (the reader) an accurate sense of how the money in your country changed over time.
Pictures or photographs of coins or other currency are fine, and even encouraged. However, they do
not count as one of your five sources. Any picture or photograph must be appended to the end of the
paper, and do not count toward your page count.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF WRITING
Write in the past tense. Events in history took place in the past.
Write in a formal style. Avoid using the first or second person. Avoid phrases like “I think” or “in my
opinion.” Avoid contractions (write “was not” instead of “wasn’t”). Avoid slang and profanity. Murky
prose, bad grammar, and consistently poor spelling will lower your grade.
Write simply and directly. Your paper should be free of sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
Avoid long convoluted sentences. Avoid grandiose language. Do not use many words when a few will
suffice. Do not use words you do not understand. Use clear language that any educated person can
Use the active voice instead of the passive voice. The passive voice verb includes some form of the
auxiliary verb “to be.” These verbs typically leave the reader with questions about what the author is
trying to explain or describe. Avoid the use of passive verbs in almost all cases. Select active verbs
instead of constructions that use “was,” “had been,” and other tenses of “being” verbs.
Example of the passive voice: “The banking system was considered inadequate.” This begs the
question: who considered the banking system inadequate? Instead, write this: “Many merchants and
entrepreneurs considered the banking system inadequate.”
Use quotations sparingly. Only include a quotation if you feel like it would it would truly enhance
your paper. Sometimes it does! But many and probably most other times it doesn’t. If you include a
quotation, identify the author of the quotation within the body of the text itself (and not simply in the
footnote). And whatever you do, avoid long block quotations.
Proofread – and then proofread again. You’ll be doing yourself (and me) a massive favor.
Historians almost always use the Chicago style for citation. Because this class includes students of
many different majors, however, I will allow you the additional option of using APA or MLA. (And
besides, some economic historians use APA). However do not alternate between one style and another:
choose one and stick to it, and use it accurately.
You must also include a bibliography (works cited page) at the end of your paper, listing all of the
sources you used in writing your paper. The sources on this page should be organized alphabetically.
This page does not count toward your overall page count.
Plagiarism, the use of another’s words with intent to deceive the reader, is a very serious offense. If
you plagiarize, you will receive an automatic zero on your paper. No exceptions.
The font in your paper must be 12-point and Times New Roman. Your margins must be one-inch
wide. Print the essay on only one side of each page. The paper should be double-spaced, with no extra
spaces between paragraphs. You must indent the first line of every paragraph. Your pages must be
Your essay is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, October 12th. You will upload your
paper directly onto Canvas; you do not need to submit a hard copy. Please submit the paper in .doc
or .docx format only: no PDF submissions. Points will be deducted from late papers unless you have
a documented excuse. Papers submitted 1-2 days late will have 5 points deducted from the grade;
papers submitted 3-4 days late will have 10 points deducted; papers submitted 5-6 days late will have
15 points deducted; and so on.