National History Day

NHDBy Tori Peck

What is National History Day?

It is an event that is independently sponsored by organizations that will hold local and state competitions where elementary, middle school and secondary school students present historical research done on a predetermined topic. Around 3,000 students attend the final competition and they come from all around the world. There are students from all fifty states along with students from Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, China, Korea, and South Asia.

SC student performance at 2017 Nationals

These students are mentored by a teacher, and that teacher gets to join the students at the competitions.  They can also present work as an individual or group. The research can be presented in many forms including; papers, websites, plays/ performances, documentaries, and exhibits. They are then judged on presentation, explanation, and content. This year the winners of the state competitions will get a chance to compete in the National contest held at the University of Maryland, College Park from June 10th to the 14th.

The goals of NHD

The goal of National History Day is to get students involved with history and to get them to delve deep into a topic that would normally only be covered briefly in the classroom. It teaches students important life skills like collaborating and teamwork, listen to advise from mentors, and critical thinking. It also helps prepare them for the future. They learn presentation skills, how to take critiques, and teaches them good researching skills. National History Day wants to encourage students of all age groups to be involved with history and take a hands on approach to learning about it.

SC student’s exhibit at 2017 Nationals


Winners of National History Day and participants who covered a subject well can be awarded a number of prices. Different groups give prizes depending on the subject of the work done by the student. Examples include the Women’s history prize sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum, the Global Peace Prize sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Discovery or Exploration in History prize which is sponsored by the Library of Congress, and many more. To find out which special prizes are available at affiliate and local contests, the affiliate coordinator can be contacted. Along with special prizes three collegiate scholarships are awarded at the National History Day Completion. Certain requirements need to be met before being eligible for these awards. An official transcript needs to be sent to the location of the NHD competition as well as an essay answering questions about the student’s history day experience and future plans. The colleges that award scholarships are Case Western Reserve University, University of Maryland, and Chaminade University.

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Students speaking with different institutions at a Fall 2017 workshop at Coastal

Volunteers and the community

National History Day relies heavily on volunteers and the community. To set up for a regional competition takes planning and hours of work. All the judges are volunteers. They are people who live in the community and who have some authority on the subject. For a local competition, a judge can be anyone from a college student majoring in history to a local high school teacher. Judging is done in pairs and then discussed and compared to scores given by other judges. With local and state completions occurring all around the world it would be impossible to run NHD without volunteers.


“Affiliates.” 2016.,

“The National Contest.” 2016.

“2017 South Carolina History Day”. 2017.

Images courtesy of South Carolina National History Day coordinator Angela Dembiczak


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