National History Day
When Anna was a sixth grader, a teacher suggested that she enter a competetive academic program called National History Day. We'd never heard of it, and had no idea what we were getting into.
NHD is an annual program to encourage significant research in history by students in grades 6 through 12. A theme is set each year; students choose a topic, and work on creating an entry in one of four categories:
- Exhibit — a display such as might be found at a history museum or historic site
- Performance — a live performance, often involving both narrration and portrayal of historic figures
- Documentary — a taped or filmed multi-media presentation
- Paper — a traditional research paper, such as would appear in a scholarly journal
When the students have completed their research and finished their projects, they begin a series of competitions at the school, regional, state, and national level. At each competition, judges evaluate the work, and the students defend their research in an interview with the judging panel. Between competitions, the students may use comments from the judges to improve their projects.
Advancing isn't easy. Between 700,000 and 800,000 students enter NHD every year — and ultimately, each state sends only two entries in each category to the national finals, held each June at the University of Maryland. As you can imagine, by the time one reaches the state competition, the quality of the entries is very high indeed.
(All of the papers presented here are stored in Portable Document Format. A free PDF reader is available from Adobe. To guard against misrepresentation, the papers feature a somewhat garish copyright notice on every page. We regret the imposition on legitimate researchers.)