What is National History Day?
    National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for middle school and high school students. It began in April of 1974 on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. The idea was the brainchild of history professor David Van Tassel, who was worried about the decline of the humanities in general and history in particular in America’s schools. Professor Van Tassel was particularly distressed by the boring rote memorization he saw in most history classrooms.  He wanted to reinvigorate the teaching and learning of history. 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

    More than 5 million students have gone on to careers in business, law, medicine and countless other disciplines where they are putting into practice what they learned through NHD.

     Contest Categories
    (click the picture to learn more about each category)
     Historical Papers
    Documentaries  Performances  Web Sites
    ResearchClip292982992 exhibit202929922 Camera202929922 Theatre202929922 website202929922
    What is Mr H's Background with NHD?
    Mr H has had a long and distinguished career with National History Day. Starting in 1999, Mr H was a regular student-competitor of the Pennsylvania National History Day competition, mainly in the Individual Exhibit category at both the Junior and Senior levels. He represented the Lancaster-York-Lebanon-Berks Region 9 at the State level on four different contests (2000-2003) and was ranked in the Top 5 of best projects in Pennsylvania his final year (2003). Mr H was also a four-time winner of the distinguished V. Ronald Smith Local History Award through the Region 9 National History Day competition, given to a young historian at the annual National History Day regional competition whose project shows a unique take on local history and local historical resources. During his undergraduate years at Shippensburg University, Mr H continued his connection to NHD, interning at the NHD national office at the University of Maryland, College Park for the 2006 NHD national contest and working as a judge and organizer for the Cumberland-Adams-Franklin-Dauphin-Perry-Fulton Region 8 regional contest at Shippensburg University. Since coming to Etown in 2008, Mr H has continued to serve as a contest judge at the regional level for the Region 9 contest. 

    What is Etown's Role in NHD?
    With all the academic benefits that National History Day has to offer, the NHD advisor(s) from the Elizabethtown Area School District would love to get perspective students who have a passion for history involved and dedicated to this program. National History Day motivates students to discover history in ways they don't normally see in everyday classrooms by cultivating specific student interests as students research a topic of their choice, developing research skills as students act as historians discovering how to uncover primary sources, build historical context and form historical interpretations (all skills in demand at colleges and universities all over Pennsylvania and the US), becoming experts on their research topic by presenting their research to teachers, students, and historians, and achieving success through the power of competition and joys of recognition for their hard work.

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Past NHD Documentary Projects

Past NHD Research Papers

NHD "Ask An Expert" Videos

  • As part of the preparation for the NHD contest, consider some of these "Ask the NEH Experts" videos on the different project categories of the contest.

     Performances  Documentaries   Papers

NHD Bibliography Resources

    Start building your NHD bibliography today with the help of CiteThisForMe.com
    Start building your NHD bibliography today with the help of MyBib.com
    NHD Bibliography Tips Video
    Primary vs. Secondary Source Tips