Breaking Barriers in History


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. The 2019-2020 theme is Breaking Barriers in History.

Webinar theme slides

To enter the National History Day Contest start by reading the Creating a Project page and contacting your State/Affiliate Coordinator to inquire about entering at the local or school level of your contest. The top two entries in each category at the Affiliate Contest level will be invited to the National Contest. The National Contest will be held June 14-18, 2020 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

JANUARY 2020 Update! So you have been working on your Breaking Barriers in History project for several weeks or months now. Maybe you have already competed at the school or regional level. Now what? Here's Ken Burns with some advice about what to do next! WATCH:

WATCH Ken's introduction to his curated Breaking Barriers playlist for ideas and inspiration:

WATCH the full playlist on Ken's UNUM website hosted by PBS HERE.



Helpful Links
Partner Resources for Research

Creating a Project

Student Resources

Project Categories

Project Examples



See past annual themes.

2020 Contest Theme Book

Download the Breaking Barriers in History theme book.

2020 Theme Graphic Organizer

This SEARCH graphic organizer helps students examine historical context within the theme Breaking Barriers in History.

Theme Narrative

This PDF contains the 2020 theme narrative as well as some topic suggestions.