Interested in participating in Maryland History Day and want to know how to get started? Explore this page for more details.
- Getting StartedBefore selecting your topic and beginning your research, you, your teacher, and your parents should review the contest rule book. The rule book is your guide to a successful project.
You should also determine whether your district is hosting a local contest. Then you and your teacher should contact the district coordinator for registration deadlines and contest details. If your district is not hosting a local contest, please contact Maryland History Day staff to inquire about participation.
Each year National History Day chooses a different theme to help students focus their research. The 2017 theme is “Taking a Stand in History.”
To take a stand, one must take a firm position on an issue.This could include groups, individuals, and movements.You can also think about what it means when people fail to take a stand.
- Topic SelectionThe great thing about History Day is that you can choose a topic that interests you! You can research an event or individual in any area of history: science, music, sports, politics – the list goes on and on. Just remember to start broad (the Civil Rights Movement) and then narrow your focus (think Rosa Parks).
- DivisionsThere are two History Day divisions based on school grade:
- Junior Division – grades 6-8
- Senior Division – grades 9-12
Students can compete as individuals or in groups (the paper category is individual-only). Groups may include two to five students, however, teachers can determine the number of students permitted in a group. Group participants do not have to be in the same grade, but they must be in the same division.
- Conducting Research
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
These are six questions you should be asking yourself as you conduct your research. Answering these questions will help you develop your thesis.
A thesis statement is a summary of the main purpose of your project. It explains what you believe to be the impact and significance of your topic in history, and it demonstrates how your topic connects to the National History Day theme. A good thesis statement is specific and does not include generalizations.
- Good thesis statement: Child labor laws in the early 1900s were necessary in order to protect the human rights of children.
- Bad thesis statement: I am going to tell you about child labor laws.
Primary and Secondary Sources
The basic definition of a primary source is material written or produced by a participant in, or an eyewitness to the event being investigated. Examples are diaries, letters, images, music, historic sites, autobiographies, or other items created during the time of the event. A secondary source is a book or article written by an author who was not an eyewitness or participant in the historical event. Examples are textbooks, encyclopedias, biographies, and other things written after the event occurred.
Where can students go to find primary and secondary sources?
Libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies are the perfect place to start. The staff at these cultural institutions are eager to help students like you!
- Creating Your EntryThere are five different categories to choose from: paper, exhibit, documentary, website, and performance. Choose carefully and make sure you read the category-specific requirements in the rule book. No category is easier than another. Play to your strengths!
If you would like another pair of eyes to look over your project before you submit it to the state contest, take advantage of our electronic review service.
Interviews (also known as oral histories) are not required for NHD. However, if you are interested in conducting an interview, there are some guidelines.
Citations, Annotated Bibliography, and Process Paper
National History Day requires that citations be formatted in Turabian or MLA style. Style guides can be found at your local library or you can consult the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).
Annotated bibliographies not only show the reader the quantity and quality of your sources, the annotations inform the reader how you used your sources. Check out the National History Day Annotated Bibliography Resource Guide! Another great resources is NoodleTools, an online platform that helps students organize resources and create their bibliography.
The process paper is required for all categories except paper. In no more than 500 words, you must answer four questions: how you chose your topic, how you conducted your research, how you selected your category, and how your project relates to the theme.
- Submitting an EntryPre-registration is required to participate in all levels of competition. Registration for the state contest opens in February.
Before you submit an entry, make sure you check that your project meets all the requirements for the competition by using the National History Day Rules Verification Checklist!