Recommendation Requests

Letters of Recommendation

If I have agreed to write a letter of recommendation for you, I will need the following materials by two weeks (at the latest) before the letter deadline:

  • your résumé (or list of accomplishments and awards)
  • the latest draft of your personal statement or letter of intent; or, if one isn’t required for the position for which you’re applying, instead a brief paragraph or two explaining what you’re applying for and why
  • ***for graduate school applications, a firm list of schools including due dates and letter formats (electronic or by mail) [the same would apply to multiple fellowship applications]***

I will also need your written responses to these prompts:

  1. Tell me about the class(es) you’ve taken with me (including dates, please). What have you learned, and how does what you’ve learned relate to the program or position for which I’m recommending you? How have you applied what you learned in our class(es) in other courses or contexts?
  2. Remind me of particular contributions to class discussion, paper-writing breakthroughs, projects, or outside-of-class conversations we’ve had that you think show something important about you or your development as a writer and thinker. If possible, send me a copy of your best writing for the class(es) you’ve taken with me—whether a formal paper, in-class write, or something else—so that I can refer to specific characteristics of your writing in my recommendation.
  3. If you’ve worked with me as a MAPP student, research assistant, or TA, tell me what you’ve learned from that work and reflect on its relevance to the program or position to which you’re applying. Tell me something concrete about your research/teaching experience, such as something about which you now think differently as a scholar or (future) teacher.
  4. Tell me how this recommendation letter fits in with the other recommendations you’ve asked for. Do you want me to emphasize your writing? your research? your participation in discussion? your work as an RA/TA? your development over time? your work with me on projects outside of class? some combination of these things? (I will shed light on as many aspects of you and your work as I can, but think about what you most want me to discuss.)

Your responses will help me write a specific and persuasive recommendation.


If I have agreed to serve as a job reference for you, please send me a couple of paragraphs in which you:

  • describe the job, internship, or fellowship for which you’re applying,
  • explain why you think you’re a good fit for this position, and
  • articulate how the work you’ve done for me in class and/or as an RA/TA is relevant to the work you’d be doing in this position.

(It’s fine to send me this information as specific positions come up over time.)

Considering Graduate School?

If you’re thinking about pursuing a PhD in history, you might find “Some Thoughts on Thinking About Graduate School and then Acting on Those Thoughts” by William North useful.