National History Day

Erin Jeon, Section Editor

Club Overview

  • National History Day is a history research project competition similar to Science Fair. Every year, there is a theme that the organization establishes, such as Conflict and Compromise. From there, it is up to you to pick a historical topic that fits under that theme and do a research project on that topic. You can work by yourself or in groups for all categories except for the paper category, and your project can take the form of any of the following event categories.

Event Categories

  • Group and Individual Exhibit: An exhibit is most like the classic tri-fold board display used in science fairs, but people who do exhibits in NHD usually take it a step further. Many people will make their own boards out of wood or make an interactive exhibit. Exhibits can consist of a mix of decorations, images, objects, and documents.
  • Group and Individual Documentary: If you compete in the documentary category, you will create a 10 minute documentary on your topic using photos and videos of the historical event or topic your project revolves around. It is up to you to write the script, conduct and film interviews, edit in videos, and choose music for the documentary.
  • Group and Individual Website: The website category is best if you like to work with many different forms of media or if you are good at web design. Many NHD websites include music, photographs, videos, documents, the competitor’s own historical analysis, or other types of interactive media.
  • Group and Individual Performance: The performance is the only category performed live, and it is a dramatic portrayal of your historical topic. You write the script, stage the performance, choose the costumes, and choose props based on your research.
  • Individual Paper: If you compete in the paper category, you will write a 1500 to 2500 word paper on your topic. Creative writing is allowed, but most papers take the form of a classic research paper.

*group and individual projects are in separate categories and not judged together

How the competitions work

  • Depending on how many UHS students want to do the category you are competing in, there might be a school-wide competition to determine which projects move on to the county competition. 
  • The county competition takes place in March. During the competition, you will be assigned a time to go in and answer questions in front of a panel of two to three judges on your project. Depending on the category, one to two projects will move on to the state competition. 
  • The interview process is similar for the state competition, and the top two projects from each category at the state level will move on to nationals in Maryland.

The workload

  • National History Day involves a lot of work. Even though the club only meets once a month, members need to put in effort outside of meetings. Every category requires an annotated bibliography, and the research process, which includes reading books, scouring the internet, and conducting interviews, can take months. However, if you pick a topic and category you are truly interested in, the research and work process can be engaging and fun.

How to join

  • The club meets the first Tuesday of every month. The interest meeting takes place towards the beginning of every year, and it is best to join as soon as possible in the school year because the projects take time. Go to @uhsnhd on Instagram for updates about meetings.