Past Themes


1980– The Individual
1981 – Trade & Industry
1982 – Work & Leisure
1983 – Turning Points
1984 – Family & Community
1985 – Triumph & Tragedy
1986 – Conflict & Compromise
1987 – Liberty: Rights and Responsibilities
1988 – Frontiers
1989 – The Individual
1990 – Science & Technology
1991 – Rights
1992 – Discovery, Encounter, Exchange
1993 – Communication
1994 – Geography
1995 – Conflict & Compromise
1996 – Taking a Stand
1997 – Triumph & Tragedy
1998 – Migration
1999 – Science & Technology
2000 – Turning Points
2001 – Frontiers
2002 – Revolution, Reaction, Reform
2003 – Rights & Responsibilities
2004 – Exploration, Encounter, Exchange
2005 – Communication
2006 – Taking a Stand
2007 – Triumph & Tragedy
2008 – Conflict & Compromise
2009 – The Individual
2010 – Innovation
2011 – Debate & Diplomacy
2012 – Revolution, Reaction, Reform
2013 – Turning Points
2014 – Rights & Responsibilities
2015 – Leadership & Legacy
2016 – Exploration, Encounter & Exchange

National History Day 2016

Exploration, Encounter & Exchange in History
June 12-16, 2016

Click here to download the full 2016 Theme Book

Why Teach a Theme?

Every year National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for the broad application to world, national or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. This year’s theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History. The intentional selection of the theme for NHD is to provide an opportunity for students to push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates and drill down into historical content to develop perspective and understanding.

The NHD theme provides a focused way to increase students’ historical understanding by developing a lens to read history, an organizational structure that helps students place information in the correct context and finally, the ability to see connections over time.

Download the following theme materials:

Theme Resources for Articles

Cultural Exchange and the Olympic Games, Teri Hedgpeth
From Calcutta to the Canefields of the Caribbean, Murali Balaji
Food for Thought, Kristine Schenk
Complex Encounters, Continuing Exchanges, Rebecca Newland
To Provide for the Enjoyment for Future Generations, Linda Rosenblum, Katherine Orr, Nicholas R. Murray
At the Crossroads of World War I and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Jessica Hopkins