The National Contest is the culmination of a series of regional, state, and affiliate-level competitions. Presenting their work in classes, schools, and districts all across the world is how students start their adventure. The state/affiliate level competitions invite the best entries. The top two submissions from each category at the state/affiliate level are subsequently given invitations to the national contest. The University of Maryland, College Park will host the 2023 National Contest from June 11–15 of that year.
National NHD Contest Please note that National History Day does not restrict entries for the National Contest based on their content. This indicates that the ideas and viewpoints presented by students in their contributions are their own or that they are based on the materials they used for their projects. They might not represent the opinions of National History Day, Inc., or those of its contributors, sponsors, supporters, partners, or affiliates, and this is frequently the case.
Every year for the week-long event, up to 3,000 kids, their families, and teachers congregate at the University of Maryland, College Park. All fifty of the United States, Washington, D.C., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia are represented by these fervent teams. The campus is buzzing with enthusiasm. These youngsters are anxious to showcase their hard work at the National Contest after spending months on project research and preparation and competing at local and affiliate contests.
All students and teachers are welcome to participate in National History Day (NHD) events regardless of their colour, gender, religion, physical capabilities, socioeconomic situation, or sexual orientation. Physically disabled students are not subject to discrimination or have their participation limits at NHD. The NHD staff and affiliate coordinators work hard to provide for the needs of students.
NHD chooses a theme for the competition each year. You may choose a topic from any area of local, regional, national, or even global history; but, the research you do and the conclusions you draw from it must be directly related to the year’s theme. Be sure to keep your topic’s scope in check so that it can be discussed and comprehended within the category’s size and time constraints.
The top entries in each category and division get first, second, and third place awards in the national competition. There are junior (middle school) and senior (high school) divisions for each category. Aside from papers, each category offers both a group and an individual category. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) sponsors first-place prizes, and the winners are given the title “NEH Scholar.”
In addition to category awards, there are special prizes and honours for excellent affiliate entries. The National Park Service’s “Outstanding Affiliate Entry” award is given to two entries from each NHD affiliate. Through the kind sponsorship of individuals, groups, and organisations, numerous special rewards are given out.
Special prizes are a fantastic way for businesses and people to recognise outstanding projects at the National History Day Contest that focus on certain periods of history. The National Contest’s current special rewards are listed below for contestants to choose from. Contact your affiliate coordinator to learn more about the unique rewards offered at local and affiliate contests.
African American History Prize
The National Park Service sponsors this award, which is granted in honour of outstanding work in the study of African American history. The honour is given to an exceptional student project that examines and documents the experience of African Americans in the Junior and Senior divisions. The topic(s) can be a person, a group, a right, a challenge, a victory, or any subject with historical importance, influence, or impact. The project should discuss the significance of the subject(s) and set them in historical context.
U.S. Labor History
The goal of the non-profit American Labor Studies Center is to gather, examine, develop, and disseminate labour studies curricula and related materials. The American Labor Studies Center prize is given to the best submission in any category, in either division, that addresses a historical aspect of American labour, such as the part that individuals or labour organisations have played in American politics, economics, law, social life, or culture.
Award for Asian American History
This award, presented by the National Park Service, honours those who have excelled in their research on Asian Americans in the past. The honour is given to an exceptional student project that examines and documents the experience of Asian Americans in the Junior and Senior divisions. The topic(s) can be a person, a group, a right, a challenge, a victory, or any subject with historical importance, influence, or impact. The project should discuss the significance of the subject(s) and set them in historical context.
Captain Ken Coskey Naval History Prize
The Naval Historical Foundation, which has focused on the preservation, teaching, and commemoration of naval history since 1926, is the sponsor of this award. The award bears the name of the late Captain Ken Coskey, a combat aviator in the Vietnam War and a POW as well as the previous executive director of the Naval Historical Foundation. He developed a strong commitment to National History Day during his fifteen years in senior positions at the Naval Historical Center and the Naval Historical Foundation. The prize is granted to the best entry on naval history across all divisions and categories.
Historical American Newspapers Prize for Chronicling America
This prize, which is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is given in the Junior and Senior divisions to a standout submission in any category that makes use of Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers’ newspaper resources. Each piece of content (article, photograph, etc.) from Chronicling America that is used for the entry must be properly cited in the Annotated Bibliography’s Primary Sources section. Free access to nearly 14 million pages of selected historic newspapers produced between 1690 and 1963 are available on the Chronicling America website. The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), an ongoing collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, creates it by digitising representative historical newspapers from all 50 states and U.S. territories. With new content being added on a regular basis, Chronicling America presently has digitised newspapers from 46 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. These include newspapers published in foreign languages, including Spanish, French, German, and Italian. Newspaper articles aren’t the only thing that counts as a primary source; there are also photos, literary prose, advertising, and other things that can be found in old newspapers. Historic newspapers can shed light on local perspectives on important historical events, insight into social or cultural practices, traditions, political opinions, economic conditions, and a wealth of other historical information in addition to providing basic factual information about an event or topic. Visit the NEH website at neh.gov to learn more about the organisation.
Prize for Corps of Discovery
This prize, sponsored by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, is given to an exceptional project in any category, in either the Junior or Senior divisions, that most effectively focuses on the Corps of Discovery using primary sources (journals, letters, newspapers, maps, public records, and/or oral histories, etc.). The Corps of Discovery, a specific member of an expedition, a government official, or a tribal leader, natural history, world politics and exploration, mapping, the sciences, leadership, diplomacy, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, or a linked historic monument, are all potential topics. Visit lewisandclark.org to learn more about the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
Historical Exploration or Discovery
This prize, sponsored by the Library of Congress, is given in the junior and senior divisions for an exceptional effort in any field pertaining to American or foreign discovery or exploration. The Elizabeth Ridgway fund was created in Ms. Ridgway’s honour because of her dedication to history, students, education, and the Library of Congress. She served as the outreach director for the Library of Congress.
E Pluribus Unum in History
The winner of this award in either the junior or senior divisions may be in any category. The winning entries will examine how people or organisations have pushed the boundaries of the status quo to forge “a more perfect union.” “Coming together as a nation recognises the strength of our unique tales while never losing sight of our common links as Americans,” reads the vision statement for the America 250 celebration. This statement emphasises the balance between preserving individual freedom and guaranteeing the common good. Our democratic institutions, nonprofit organisations, and cooperative businesses all demonstrate this oneness. As we exercise our individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while respecting the freedom of others to do the same, it is ideal that we work together to further the common good. The America 250 Foundation and the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission are the sponsors of the E Pluribus Unum Prize.
The History of Equality
This prize, which is sponsored by Celie and Tabitha Niehaus, is given in both the junior and senior divisions to a standout submission in any category that sheds light on the history of human equality, particularly in relation to the role that individuals and/or organisations have played in the efforts for marginalised groups (such as LGBT, women, and girls) to have the same status in certain respects, which is frequently inclusive of civil, voting, and property rights, freedom of speech, marriage, and gender identity.
George Washington Leadership in History Prize
The second part of the 18th century saw George Washington occupy the centre of the international stage, and he has remained there ever since his death in 1799. In his capacities as Commander in Chief, President of the Constitutional Convention, Citizen Farmer, and President of the United States of America, he played a crucial part in every significant event surrounding the formation of our nation. Over time, his activities have served as illustrative cases of civic duty, patriotism, and historical intricacy; they are still important to current national discourse. The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon is offering the $1000 George Washington Leadership in History Prize. It will be given to outstanding junior and senior projects that show a thorough understanding of the concepts and occasions that define Washington’s life, leadership, and legacy. We give projects that explore creative and appealing methods to portray the story of George Washington so that his timeless and relevant life is available to the world with special consideration in addition to efforts that provide great historical interpretation.
The Federal Government’s History
Sponsored by the Society for History in the Federal Government, a professional association with a nationwide membership base for anybody with a passion for the history of the federal government and all its constituent institutions. The prize is given to the best submission that sheds light on the history of the United States federal government in either division and in any category.
Agriculture and rural life in history
The prize is given to the best project in either division, in any category, that focuses on the history of agriculture and/or rural life in any nation or historical period, and is sponsored by the Agricultural History Society. In order to encourage the study of the history of agriculture and rural life in America and around the world, the Agricultural Historical Society was established in 1919.
Physical science and technological history
The American Institute of Physics Niels Bohr Library & Archives, whose goal is to conserve and disseminate knowledge about the history of physics and the physical sciences, is the sponsor of the History of the Physical Sciences and Technology Prize. The prize is given to the best submission in any category, in both the Junior and Senior divisions, that examines a significant figure or moment in the history of science and technology. The project should discuss the significance of the subject(s) and set them in historical context. (Note that this award does not cover work in the biological or psychological sciences.)
Award for Immigration History
This award, sponsored by the Lombardo Family, honours those who have excelled in the study of immigration history. An outstanding student project in either level that examines and documents immigration to the United States is given the prize. The topic(s) can be a person, a group, a right, a challenge, a victory, or any subject with historical importance, influence, or impact. The project should discuss the significance of the subject(s) and set it(they) in historical context.
History of Ireland or Irish Americans
There are two prizes given in both the junior and senior divisions, for a total of four prizes, in this competition that is jointly sponsored by The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America (AOH) and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians in America (LAOH). Excellence in the research and presentation of Irish/Irish American history must be shown in the winning submissions. First and second place honours in the senior division go to the AOH, and first and second place awards in the junior division go to the LAOH.
The oldest and largest Irish organisation in the United States is the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, an Irish Catholic fraternal society formed in 1836. The Ancient Order of Hibernians has members in all 50 states as well as Washington, DC, making it the biggest Irish organisation outside of Ireland.
The oldest and biggest Irish Catholic women’s organisation in the United States is the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, formed in 1894. They are a sorority of American Catholic women dedicated to preserving Irish heritage and culture. Along with Washington, DC, the LAOH has members in each of the 50 states and commonwealths.
Prize for Latino American History
This award, which is sponsored by the National Park Service, is granted in honour of outstanding work in the study of Latino-American history. The honour is given to an exceptional student project that examines and documents the experience of Latino Americans in the Junior and Senior divisions. The topic(s) can be a person, a group, a right, a challenge, a victory, or any subject with historical importance, influence, or impact. The project should discuss the significance of the subject(s) and set them in historical context.
Lee Allen Award for Baseball History
Sponsored by the Society for American Baseball Research, a group of more than 6,300 people who love to read, write, talk, and learn about baseball in all its facets. The Lee Allen prize recognises the outstanding baseball-related submission in any category or division that most effectively exhibits research prowess, accuracy, and a love of the sport. The award bears Lee Allen’s name, who served as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s historian from 1950 to 1969.
Prize for Native American History
This award, sponsored by the National Park Service, honours those who have excelled in their research on Native American history. The honour is given to an exceptional student project that examines and documents the Native American experience in the Junior and Senior divisions. The topic(s) can be a person, a group, a right, a challenge, a victory, or any subject with historical importance, influence, or impact. The project should discuss the significance of the subject(s) and set them in historical context.
Awards for Next-Generation Angels
These honours, sponsored by The Better Angels Society, are given to the top three finishers in each division of the individual documentary category in appreciation of their outstanding historical filmmaking. The Anne Harrington Award, named after the late Ken Burns friend and colleague, is also given to the senior category winner in first place. The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, an initiative to help professional filmmakers exploring themes in American history, has a youth component called the Next Generation Angels Awards. Here you may see the six top student documentaries from 2021.
History of the United States Marine Corps
This prize is given to an exceptional entry in any category in either the junior or senior division that exhibits an awareness of Marine Corps history. It is sponsored by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, an organisation devoted to fostering the study of Marine Corps history and traditions.
American Constitution Prize
The prize, which is sponsored by the National Archives and Records Administration, is given to an exceptional submission in any category, in both the Junior and Senior divisions, that makes use of federal government records to either shed light on the drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution or to highlight constitutional issues that have arisen throughout American history.
This prize is given to an outstanding project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyses White House history through topics like specific presidents, first ladies, residence staff, White House art and architecture, or significant events that took place in the White House. It is sponsored by the White House Historical Association, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion.
This prize, which is sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum, is given to the best project in any division that emphasises the contributions, successes, experiences, and perspectives of women in American history.
World War II
Sponsored by the National World War II Museum, which uses poignant personal narratives, historical relics, and potent interactive exhibits to provide light on the American experience during the Second World War. This honour is given to an exceptional submission that addresses World War II history in both the junior and senior divisions.