For many college history classes, the 20th century is generally the area where they want you to kind of stop. Many professors will not ask you to pick a topic passed a certain year. Some professors might stop at the President prior to the current one. For example they would allow you to use topics up to George W. Bush.
The 20th century was filled with a substantial amount of topics that can be used for an interesting research paper. These topics also can be easily broken down, although some are very specific. Five very interesting and very different topics from the 20th century are the five wars that occurred. Each one has very intricate details that can draw out their own papers. World War I as a whole is a very interesting war. It was one that is best remembered for a fighting style known as trench warfare, where large trenches were dug and soldiers barricaded themselves in. Aside from trench warfare there is also the topic of what caused the war, if it was Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s death or something else. Something comparative that comes out of this subject is the United States entered into the 1920s in an economic boom, but much of the world was already in a recession. In a very short time frame America would enter World War II.
In regards to American history, World War II is a very interesting research topic especially at the college level. In college level history courses many times we are witness to a much more detailed version of World War II. While it is easy to write a paper about the war as a whole, there are many topics within the war that can be looked at. Some interesting World War II subtopics include the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese internment, or the bombing of Hiroshima. Three other wars Korea, Vietnam, and The Gulf War occurred during the 20th century. They too would make excellent paper topics. Also, especially in regards to Vietnam, there are many subtopics such as the anti-war movement that could be written about.
Outside of the wars in this century there are many other interesting topics. Many of them caused a great stir in the folds or American history. One large topic that can be broken down into subtopics if need be is The Great Depression. It is one of the most memorable and trying times in America. Some subtopics that can be written about are public works projects, tent cities, and deficit spending for all you economics majors. Another topic that can be looked at is McCarthyism. This topic can readily be referred to as a second great witch hunt in America. It can be tied into many aspects of the Cold War, which in itself has many great subtopics. Other great 20th century topics include the Civil Rights Movement, which has many subtopics. Watergate, the great Nixon controversy, and the May 4th, 1970 Kent State shootings in which the National Guard unleashed gunfire upon protesting students at Kent State in Ohio.