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What is National History Day?

National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.

Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.

In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, NHD also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:

  • critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • research and reading skills
  • oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • self esteem and confidence
  • a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

More than 5 million students have gone on to careers in business, law, medicine and countless other disciplines where they are putting into practice what they learned through NHD.

Endorsements

  • American Association for State and Local History
  • American Historical Association
  • Federation of State Humanities Councils
  • Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Center for History in the Schools
  • National Council for History Education
  • National Council on Public History
  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • Organization of American Historians
  • Society of American Archivists