The National Contest

2017 National Contest Award Winners


The National Contest is the final stage of a series of contests at local and state/affiliate levels. Students begin their journey by presenting their projects in classrooms, schools, and districts around the world. Top entries are invited to the state/affiliate level contests. The top two entries in every category at the state/affiliate level are then invited to the National Contest. The 2018 National Contest will be held June 10-14, 2018 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

About the Contest
Annual Theme
Contest Winners
Special Prizes and Scholarships
About the Contest

Each year nearly 3,000 students with their families and teachers gather at the University of Maryland, College Park for the week-long event. These enthusiastic groups come from all fifty United States, Washington, D.C., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia. The excitement can be felt across the campus. After spending months on project research and preparation, and competing at local and affiliate contests, these students are eager to show their hard work at the National Contest.

National History Day (NHD) programs are open to all students and teachers without regard to race, sex, religion, physical abilities, economic status, or sexual orientation. NHD does not discriminate against, or limit participation by, physically challenged students. NHD staff and affiliate coordinators strive to accommodate students with special needs.

Annual Theme

Each year NHD selects a theme for the contest. Although you may select a topic on any aspect of local, regional, national, or world history, your project’s research and conclusions must relate clearly to the annual theme. Be careful to limit the scope of your topic to focus on an issue that can be explained and interpreted within the category limits of size and time.

Contest Winners

At the National Contest, first, second, and third place awards are presented to the top entries in each category and division. All categories have a junior (middle school) and senior (high school) division. Each category, aside from papers, also has a group and an individual category. First place awards are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and those students earn the designation, NEH Scholar.

Award-winning projects from past contests

In addition to category awards, there are scholarships, outstanding affiliate entry awards, and special prizes. Three high school participants will receive full or partial scholarships from Case Western Reserve University, Chaminade University, and the University of Maryland, College Park. These awards are chosen by representatives of the universities. Two entries from each NHD affiliate receive an “Outstanding Affiliate Entry” award sponsored by the National Park Service. Numerous special prizes are awarded through the generous sponsorship of individuals, groups, and organizations.

Special Prizes and Scholarships

Special prizes are an excellent way for organizations and individuals to reward exceptional projects that explore specific areas of history at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest. Below is a list of current special prizes available to participants of the National Contest. To find out about special prizes at affiliate and local contests, contact your affiliate coordinator.

To see past special prize winners, visit NHD Awards.

African-American History Prize
This prize, sponsored by the National Park Service, is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the study of African-American history. The prize is awarded to an outstanding student project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyzes the African-American experience. The subject(s) can be an individual, group(s), a right, challenge(s), triumph(s), or any topic that has historical significance, influence or impact. The project should explain why the subject(s) is/are important and place it/them in historical context.

American Labor History
The American Labor Studies Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to collect, analyze, create and disseminate labor history and labor studies curricula and related materials. The American Labor Studies Center prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in any category, in either division, that involves an aspect of American labor history, including the role that individuals and/or labor organizations have played in American economic, political, legislative, social or cultural life.

Asian-American History Prize
This prize, sponsored by the National Park Service, is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the study of Asian-American history. The prize is awarded to an outstanding student project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyzes the Asian-American experience. The subject(s) can be an individual, group(s), a right, challenge(s), triumph(s), or any topic that has historical significance, influence or impact. The project should explain why the subject(s) is/are important and place it/them in historical context.

Captain Ken Coskey Naval History Prize
This prize is sponsored by the Naval Historical Foundation, which has focused on preservation, education and commemoration of naval history since 1926. The prize is named for the late Captain Ken Coskey, a Vietnam War combat aviator and Prisoner of War, and former executive director of the Naval Historical Foundation. During his fifteen years in leadership roles at the Naval Historical Center and the Naval Historical Foundation, he became a strong supporter of National History Day. The award is given to the best entry on naval history in any category and both divisions.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers Prize
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), this prize is awarded in both the Junior and Senior divisions to an outstanding entry in any category that utilizes the newspaper resources that are available on the Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers web site. Each content item from Chronicling America (article, image, etc.) used for the entry must be noted in the Primary Sources section of the Annotated Bibliography and follow proper NHD citation guidelines for Web content. The Chronicling America web site provides free access to over 10 million pages of select digitized historic newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. It is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a long-term partnership between NEH and the Library of Congress to digitize representative historic newspapers from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Chronicling America currently has digitized newspapers from 39 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, with new content added regularly, including newspapers published in foreign languages starting with Spanish, French, German, and Italian. Primary sources are not limited to newspaper articles, but also include advertisements, images, literary prose, and other content that appears in historic newspapers. In addition to providing basic factual details about an event or topic, historic newspapers can shed light on local perspectives about a major historical event, insight into social or cultural practices, traditions, political opinions, economic circumstances, and a wealth of other historical information. For more information on NEH visit their homepage at http://www.neh.gov/.

Civil War History Prize
Sponsored by the Civil War Trust, a non-profit organization that promotes appreciation and stewardship of our nation’s historical, cultural, and environmental heritage through preservation of significant Civil War battlefields and supporting preservation and education programs. This prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in any category and from either division which focuses on the history of the American Civil War.

Corps of Discovery Prize
Sponsored by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in any category, in both the Junior and Senior divisions, that best utilizes original sources [journals, letters, newspapers, maps, government records and/or oral histories, etc.] to focus on the Corps of Discovery. Topics could include the Corps of Discovery, an individual expedition member, government official, or tribal leader, natural history, international politics and exploration, cartography, the sciences, leadership, diplomacy, or the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail or a related historic site. For more information about the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, visit: www.lewisandclark.org.

Discovery or Exploration in History
Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this prize is awarded in the junior and senior divisions for an outstanding project in any category on American or international discovery or exploration. The Elizabeth Ridgway fund was established in memory of Ms. Ridgway, Library of Congress Education Outreach Director, for her passion for history, students, education, and the Library of Congress.

Equality in History
Sponsored by Celie and Tabitha Niehaus, this prize is awarded in both the junior and senior divisions to an outstanding entry in any category that illuminates the history of human equality, especially with respect to the role that individuals and/or organizations have played in the efforts for isolated groups (e.g., LGBT, women, and girls) to have the same status in certain respects, often including civil, voting, and property rights, freedom of speech, marriage and gender equality, and equal access to social goods and services.

George Washington Leadership in History Prize
Sponsored by George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, this prize will be awarded to an outstanding project in both the junior and senior divisions that demonstrates a clear understanding of Washington’s character and the ideas and events that defined his leadership in his roles as commander in chief of the Continental Army, presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention, entrepreneur, and/or first president and connects his legacy to events and ideas of the 21st century.

Global Peace Prize
This prize is sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the independent organization created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence. Created in 1984, USIP engages directly in conflict zones and provides analysis, education and resources to those working for peace around the world. This prize will be awarded in both the Junior and Senior Divisions to an outstanding entry that demonstrates America’s commitment to peace, including the role that individuals, organizations and/or the U.S. government have played in advancing the cause of global peace. Students are encouraged to think broadly about the concepts of peace and peacebuilding. They can encompass many forms and themes such as pursuing diplomatic solutions to international conflicts; bringing divided communities together; providing access to education, economic development, justice and the rule of law; addressing gender or other inequalities; or other initiatives intended to prevent or resolve violent conflict around the world. For more information visit www.buildingpeace.org.

History in the Federal Government
Sponsored by the Society for History in the Federal Government, a national professional organization open to all that are interested in federal history programs and the history of all branches of the U.S. government. The prize is awarded to the best entry in any category, in either division, which illuminates the history of the American federal government.

History of Agriculture and Rural Life
Sponsored by the Agricultural History Society the prize is awarded to the best project in either division, in any category, focused on the history of agriculture and/or rural life in any country or time period. The Agricultural Historical Society was founded in 1919 to promote the study of the history of agriculture and rural life in America and throughout the world.

Immigration History Award
Sponsored by the Lombardo Family, this prize is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the study of Immigration history. The prize is awarded to an outstanding student project in either division that documents and analyzes Immigration to the United States. The subject(s) can be an individual, group(s), a right, challenge(s), triumph(s), or any topic that has historical significance, influence or impact. The project should explain why the subjects (s) is/are important and place it/them in historical context.

Irish or Irish-American History
Sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) the prizes are awarded to two projects in either junior or senior divisions, in any category. The entries must demonstrate excellence in the study or presentation of Irish/Irish-American History. The AOH and LAOH are the oldest, largest and most prominent Irish Catholic fraternal organizations in the nation. Founded in New York and Pennsylvania in 1836, its membership exceeds 100,000. The medals awarded with these prizes are in honor of Commodore John Barry, USN (1745 – 1803) who was a native of Ireland and Founder of the U.S. Navy. The AOH award is two round trip tickets to Ireland or $2,000 and the LAOH Scholarship Assistance Award is $1,500. Awards given can both be in the same division.

Latino-American History Prize
Sponsored by the National Park Service, this prize is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the study of Latino-American history. The prize is awarded to an outstanding student project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyzes the Latino-American experience. The subject(s) can be an individual, group(s), a right, challenge(s), triumph(s), or any topic that has historical significance, influence or impact. The project should explain why the subject(s) is/are important and place it/them in historical context.

Lee Allen History of Baseball Award
Sponsored by the Society for American Baseball Research, an association of over 6,000 individuals who enjoy reading, writing, talking, and learning about all aspects of baseball. The Lee Allen prize honors the best entry in any category and in either division relating to baseball which best demonstrates research skills, accuracy, and an appreciation of the national pastime. The prize is named in honor of Lee Allen, the historian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum from 1950-1969.

Legacy Prize
Sponsored by the Creativity Foundation, this prize is awarded to a student in recognition of their unique creative talents and dedication to public service. Students are nominated by their teachers and must compete at the national contest to be considered. The award winner is decided on by a council of NHD state coordinators.

The National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine
Sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, this prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in any category, in the Senior division, that best utilizes the National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources, whether primary or secondary sources, obtained via an NLM database/service such as MEDLINE Plus, PubMed, PubMed Central, NLM’s DIgital Collections, Images from the History of Medicine or by visiting the library.

Native American History Prize
Sponsored by the National Park Service, this prize is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the study of Native American history. The prize is awarded to an outstanding student project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyzes the Native American experience. The subject(s) can be an individual, group(s), a right, challenge(s), triumph(s), or any topic that has historical significance, influence or impact. The project should explain why the subject(s) is/are important and place it/them in historical context.

United States Marine Corps History
Sponsored by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting the study of Marine Corps history and traditions, this prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in any category in either the junior or senior division that demonstrates an appreciation of Marine Corps History.

U.S. Constitution Award
Sponsored by the National Archives and Records Administration, the prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in any category and in both Junior and Senior divisions that uses the records of the Federal government to either illuminate the creation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution or to focus on Constitutional issues throughout American History.

Vietnam War Era Prize
Sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (the founders of the Vietnam Memorial), a nonprofit which works to educate future generations about the impact of the Vietnam war and era, this prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in the senior division that critically examines the history and ongoing legacy of the Vietnam War era.

White House History
Sponsored by the White House Historical Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion, this prize is awarded to an outstanding project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyzes White House history through such subjects as individual presidents, first ladies, residence staff, White House art and architecture, or important events that took place in the White House.

Women’s History
Sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum, this prize is awarded to the best project in either division, in any category, that focuses on the contribution, accomplishments, experiences, and perspectives of women in U.S. history.

World War I History Prize
The World War I History Prize, sponsored by the US World War I Centennial Commission, is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the study of World War I and its impact, nationally or internationally. The prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in both the junior and senior divisions that documents and analyzes a significant aspect of World War I, clearly demonstrating historical relevance to the theme of World War I.

World War II
Sponsored by the National World War II Museum, which illuminates the American experience during the WWII era with moving personal stories, historic artifacts and powerful interactive displays. This prize is awarded to an outstanding entry in both the junior and senior divisions that involves World War II history.


There are three collegiate scholarships awarded at the National History Day Contest. Eligible National History Day Contest participants should review the requirements below for each of the college scholarships. Students are welcome to apply to all three.

The three scholarships are to the following institutions:
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Maryland, College Park

Procedure:
To complete the application, click the link to the form for the university of your choice, below. This will download a Word document application that you can complete on your computer. Print your completed forms and mail them along with an official copy of your transcripts and cover letter with your name, address, telephone and school. YOU MUST SEND A TRANSCRIPT IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP.

Application for Case Western Reserve University
Application for University of Maryland
Application for Chaminade University

You will need to know your cumulative GPA [on a 4.0 scale], and your SAT or ACT scores, if available. The following questions must be answered in essay form as part of the application for each scholarship:

  • Describe your National History Day project, why it was important to you, and what it taught you about the process of historical research.
  • If you were to do a follow-up project, what additional questions or issues would you want to explore and why?
  • What impact has your participation in National History Day had on you?
  • What are your personal and educational goals, and how would attending this university help you attain them?
  • How many years have you participated in National History Day (at any level)?
  • Send your scholarship materials to:
    SCHOLARSHIPS
    National History Day
    4511 Knox Road
    Suite 205
    College Park, MD 20740

    Materials must be received by May 16, 2017 to be eligible.

    Find Your State/Affiliate

    For contact info, contest dates, and resources

    NHD Rule Book

    Contact your regional or affiliate coordinator to learn if any rules have been revised since the publication of this rule book, and for more information on topics, sources, and deadlines.

    Winning Projects

    View the award-winning projects from previous contests.

    Special Prizes at the National Contest

    There are numerous special prizes awarded at the National Contest. Visit the Special Prizes page to learn more.