Education & Outreach

Contest Information

The National History Day program includes a progressive contest cycle open to students in grades 6-12. District History Day events are normally held in March. Many schools have a local event prior to the district contest. Please click on the “District Coordinators” tab to locate your district contest site and contact the district coordinator for entry information. District winners advance to the state events held at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines in late April or early May.

State winners advance to the national contest held in June at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.

Generally, the top two entries in a category advance to the next level of competition. Students in grades 6 through 8 participate in the Junior Division; students in grades 9 through 12 participate in the Senior Division. Participants may work individually or collaboratively in groups of 2 to 5. Youth Division students (grades 4-5) do not participate in the competitive event cycle but showcase their work in conjunction with Senior State History Day. (Those interested in the Youth Division should contact State History staff directly.)

Register for District and State Contest Events

2015 Theme: Leadership & Legacy in History

Good research is the key to a great National History Day project. Students are encouraged to examine both primary and secondary sources as they explore their chosen topic. Good history investigators look at a wide variety of source types like books, newspapers, journal articles, interviews, artifacts, documents, and so much more. 

To get started, visit the National History Day website for outstanding research suggestions and related resources. 

Current Theme Book for Teachers

Current Theme Book for Teachers

Rules and Categories

Review the Contest Rule Book for a complete description of program guidelines.

Participants May Enter in the Following Categories

  • Junior Paper (individual only)
  • Junior Individual Exhibit
  • Junior Group Exhibit
  • Junior Individual Documentary
  • Junior Group Documentary
  • Junior Individual Performance
  • Junior Group Performance
  • Junior Individual Web sites
  • Junior Group Web sites
  • Senior Paper (individual only)
  • Senior Individual Exhibit
  • Senior Group Exhibit
  • Senior Individual Documentary
  • Senior Group Documentary
  • Senior Individual Performance
  • Senior Group Performance
  • Senior Individual Web sites
  • Senior Group Web sites

National History Day Evaluation Criteria

Volunteers that have an interest in history and education are asked to assess student work based on NHD’s Judging Criteria.  Students and teachers are encouraged to review the assessment materials to better understand the judging process. 

For assistance with interpreting the judging criteria as they relate to student work, read about “The History Day 6” under “Student Tips.”

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