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What Is National History Day?


Each year, thousands of middle and high school students and teachers across the United States participate in National History Day, a year-long educational program that culminates in a national contest every June. Students compete in a local contest. The winners move on to a state competition. Those winners move on to the national competition in Washington. Along the way, every participant gains first-hand experience conducting historical research and producing a documentary, exhibit, essay, performance, or website.

Read about this year's theme.

Hear about it from two of our student participants:

Video by students Haftom Khasai & Malik Neal for NHD Philly

When and where are the local, state and national competitions?

See homepage of this website for upcoming dates.

Do all students compete together?

There are two divisions in the National History Day program:

Within these divisions are nine categories of participation at the local, state, and national competitions.

Groups may include 2-5 students.

For guidelines and judging criteria for all categories except web projects, see the Contest Rules.

How are projects judged?

Projects are evaluated on whether students completed original research based on the theme. Effective NHD entries address the following:

In addition, students must demonstrate the use of primary materials, such as quotes from historical figures and photographs of historical events, as well as secondary published sources by authors who were not eyewitnesses or participants.

See How Will Your Entry Be Judged?.

Can a student participate if his/her teacher isn't willing?

Yes. Contact Us and we'll help find a mentor for you!

How can a student enter?

The first step is to complete an Registration.

Next the student should ask his/her teachers to work with them and other students in the class to guide them in producing their projects. Many educators across the country incorporate National History Day into the classroom work. The National History Day program helps teachers to meet national and state learning standards and testing requirements.

How does NHD help students meet learning standards?

In addition to supporting content learning requirements, National History Day offers problem-based learning, portfolio assessment, integrated math, writing, and communicating. NHD also supports skills building:

Read the History Day, Pennsylvania Standards, and the PSSA Reading and Math Anchors

National History Day is a program that supports learning across the curriculum!