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.
Hear about it from two of our student participants:
When and where are the local, state and national competitions?
See homepage of this website for upcoming dates.
- Philadelphia regional competition
- Pennsylvania State competition
- National competition
Do all students compete together?
There are two divisions in the National History Day program:
- Junior Division — grades 6-8
- Senior Division — grades 9-12
Within these divisions are nine categories of participation at the local, state, and national competitions.
- Paper (individual only)
- Individual exhibit
- Group exhibit
- Individual performance
- Group performance
- Individual documentary
- Group documentary
- Individual web project
- Group web project
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:
- The topic's importance
- The topic's relevance to the Theme.
- How the topic influenced history. (Demonstration of the topic's importance or influence in history.)
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.
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:
- Planning and conducting an interview by writing open-ended questions and organizing them.
- Improved telephone and letter-writing skills.
- Taking notes and writing an outline.
- Using the library and keeping organized.
- Evaluating the importance of information to a topic and organizing it well to communicate to others.
National History Day is a program that supports learning across the curriculum!