National History Day Student Documentaries To Be Featured by Smithsonian

National Museum of African American History & Culture Will Select Student Films to be Showcased by Smithsonian Learning Lab

WASHINGTON, DC—A select group of documentary films produced by middle and high school students competing in the 2020 National History Day® (NHD) National Contest will be chosen by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and featured online by the Smithsonian Learning Lab in June.

To be selected for the showcase, students must address in their documentaries topics and stories consistent with the mission of the NMAAHC. The projects also will reflect the 2020 NHD theme, Breaking Barriers in History. Films may be no longer than ten minutes each.

The documentary showcase was originally planned to be screened in the Oprah Winfrey Theater of the NMAAHC, but will now take place online because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whether on the big screen of the awe-inspiring Oprah Winfrey Theater, or as a featured collection hosted by the invaluable Smithsonian Learning Lab, the documentary showcase is a phenomenal opportunity for our young documentarians,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “The meaning of having their Breaking Barriers films selected by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a barrier-breaking institution in its own right, will not be lost on the students. We are grateful to our Smithsonian partners and friends for providing this platform, and I cannot wait to see the documentaries selected for the showcase.”

On Tuesday, June 16, NHD and NMAAHC will announce the films and students selected for the documentary showcase. The films will then be available to stream online for one week via the Smithsonian Learning Lab from Wednesday, June 17 through Wednesday, June 24.

About National History Day® (NHD)
NHD is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, The Better Angels Society, Jacqueline B. Mars, and BBVA. For more information, visit

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 7 million visitors. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000 square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit visit, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

About Smithsonian Learning Lab
The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, libraries, archives and more. The site allows teachers and students to create and adapt personalized interactive instructional materials with online tools and share in the Smithsonian's expansive community of knowledge and learning. Prepackaged collections contain lessons, activities and recommended resources made by Smithsonian museum educators and thousands of classroom teachers across the country. For more information about the Smithsonian Learning Lab, visit, follow @SmithsonianLab on Twitter, or email

Colleen Kennedy
Communications Director
Phone: 301-405-0536
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