About the Contest

Maryland History Day is a program of Maryland Humanities and is an affiliate of National History Day, which has affiliates throughout the nation and the world. In addition to coordinating the state contest, Maryland History Day provides professional development for teachers and works in partnership with district coordinators who operate the program and conduct contests at the local level.

Each year more than 31,000 middle and high school students in classrooms throughout Maryland immerse themselves in in-depth research and create original documentaries, exhibits, performances, research papers, or websites exploring a breadth of historical topics within an annual theme.

  • Getting Started

    Before selecting your topic and beginning your research, you, your teacher, and your parents should review the contest rule book. The rulebook is your guide to a successful project.

    rulebook in English (PDF) Manual De Reglas En EspaÑol (PDF)

    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.

    Annual Theme

    Each year National History Day chooses a different theme to help students focus their research. The 2024 theme is Turning Points in History.


  • Topic Selection
    The 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).

  • Divisions

    History Day divisions are 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.

    Youth Division – grades 4-5:
    Youth Division is a scaled-down version of MHD and is designed to introduce students in the 4th and 5th grades to skills-driven history and civics education that students will continue to develop in middle and high school. Projects are completed based on the NHD annual theme and consist of virtual or physical posters, similar to the exhibit category of the Junior/Senior levels of NHD. View our Youth Division Teacher Resource Packet for more information.

  • Creating Your Entry
    There 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.

    Conducting Interviews

    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. 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 Entry
    Pre-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.

  • “I had never done anything like this before so it was a totally new experience to write a paper, be interviewed, and defend my positions. I now really know how to do research and it has improved my writing skills.”

    ​Maryland History Day 2015 Student
  • “The part of History Day that had the most impact on me was seeing all the other entries and entry categories. It was really inspiring to see so many different people of history honored for their leadership and legacy as that was this years theme. You forget that the whole world has a history and there are so many different people and leaders who make up that history. The fact that this day brings together all of us students, our imaginations, our creativity, research skills, and history really reminds you how much of us would be lost if we didn’t remember those who made an impact.”

    ​Maryland History Day student participant
  • “[The students] learned a variety of ways to present their material and they could focus on what they wanted to learn about. The students had a choice in their learning. It was about their learning NOT what someone else felt they need to learn.”

    ​Maryland History Day teacher
  • “By using a variety of sources, I was able to get angles on my topic that I wasn’t able to before. Also, I learned so much about a topic near and dear to my heart that will enrich my learning later in life.”

    Maryland History Day 2015 Student
  • “I think the continual process of improving her research and presentation through the various levels of competition has been incredibly valuable. It has caused her to dig deeper in her research and build upon and refine her work and presentation.”

    ​Maryland History Day parent
  • “The students are now far more prepared for the high level of scholarship and achievement that will be expected of them in future years. MHD also elevated many other skills too. These include public speaking, the use of technology, learning to collaborate.”

    ​Maryland History Day teacher
  • “We were very impressed with the depth of research all the students did for their History Day projects. It was fun to see them interacting with each other during the competition and events.”

    Lori and Josh Skillman, History Day Parents
  • “History Day inspired me to become deeply invested in historical topics which I never thought I’d enjoy. It is an amazing experience that has the ability to make learning fun for everyone, no matter what you’re interested in.”

    Addie Skillman, National History Day Gold Winner
  • “My students went deeper with primary and secondary sources than ever before. They used critical thinking skills and applied the transfer goals and essential questions on a deeper level than they could have in class. It challenged them to think deeper and defend their findings.”

    Maryland History Day 2019 Teacher
  • “I had never done anything like this before so it was a totally new experience to write a paper, be interviewed, and defend my positions. I now really know how to do research and it has improved my writing skills.”

    ​Maryland History Day student
  • “My students became more competent researchers, and took ownership of their work. They had total free reign to choose their topic, direct their research, and create their final project.”

    ​Maryland History Day 2015 Teacher
  • “The excitement of the research was wonderful for my students’ academic progress. They now feel capable of doing any research paper that may be assigned in college!”

    Maryland History Day 2019 Teacher
  • “Maryland History Day challenged my daughter to go deeper, deeper in research analysis and presentation. It took her to a whole new level academically.”

    ​Maryland History Day parent
  • “The researching and communicating skills have made me a more confident person in all academic endeavors. These are skills that will last me a lifetime.”

    ​Maryland History Day student participant
  • “It provided an opportunity for my child to learn through experiential opportunities. He had interviews and tours that were relevant to his topic that helped the history come alive and create unforgettable memories.”

    Maryland History Day 2015 Parent
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