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National History Day: Teacher Resources and Curriculum Connections

Classroom Connections

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

National History Day motivates students to discover history by

  • Cultivating interest: students research a topic of their choice
  • Developing research skills: students act as historians discovering how to uncover primary sources, build historical context and form historical interpretations
  • Becoming experts on their research topic: presenting their research to teachers, students, and historians

NHD alignment to Common Core