For Judges and Other Volunteers

Important 2020 Contest Update

Due to COVID-19, the Maryland History Day contest will now be held digitally. Though our contest will be a little different this year, we are still looking for 230 volunteer judges to provide meaningful feedback to the students and to select advancers to the national competition. With this new format, there are now several dates available to volunteer as a judge:

  • April 17–27: first round paper, website, or documentary
  • April 29–May 2: final round paper, website, or documentary (experienced judges only)
  • May 5–13: first round exhibits or performances
  • May 14–16: final round exhibits or performances (experienced judges only)

Depending on which round you are assigned, you will have anywhere from 3 to 6 days to complete your judging. To register as a judge visit this link and create an account.

In addition to our regular training, we will hold judge trainings for our Digital Contest via zoom. Once you have been assigned your category, we will email you with more details about the training, including the links. Can’t make the meeting? We will send a recording of the training for your to watch at a time that works better for your schedule

    • April 18th, 2020,10:00am-11:00am: Documentary Judge Training
    • May 5th, 2020, 5:00pm-6:00pm: Exhibit and Performance Judge Training
    •  Paper and websites judges will receive an email with trianing materials 

Help us promote research skills and a love of learning in students throughout Maryland!

As they progress through competitions at the school, district, state, and national levels, students rely on volunteers like you to evaluate their projects and help them to improve their skills that they have developed throughout the process.

Maryland Humanities invites you to serve as a judge for the 2020 Maryland History Day competition at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County when nearly 700 students will arrive with History Day projects focused on the theme of “Breaking Barriers in History.”

While most judges include humanities scholars, teachers, librarians, and museum professionals, anyone who wants to support students in this exciting learning experience may judge. You can play an important role by volunteering as a History Day judge – reviewing student projects, interviewing contestants, selecting the winners to advance to the national contest, and providing constructive feedback.

Please note: This is only for the Maryland History Day state contest. If you would like to judge for your local contest, please contact the district coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why Judge?
    Judging is a fantastic way to connect with students, support your community, and learn about history. Be a part of Maryland students’ successes as they learn and grow through History Day. Why?

    • Community involvement
    • Networking opportunities
    • Learn something new
    • Free breakfast and lunch
    • Help the youth of Maryland

  • Who Can Serve as a Judge?
    While most judges include humanities scholars, teachers, librarians, and museum professionals, anyone who wants to support students in this exciting learning experience may judge. You do not need to have any prior experience to judge – we will train you!

    For the state contest, we need at least 200 judges so please invite your friends and family!

  • What's Involved?
    Maryland History Day judges review student projects in a preferred division and category, interview students, rank projects and select winners to advance to the national contest, and provide constructive written feedback via evaluation forms.

    You will be assigned to a team of three judges, one of whom will be designated as the captain. It is important that everyone on your team agrees on the overall rankings of the entries you judge. Your comment forms will eventually make their way back to the students, so make sure you write comments that are similar and complementary to one another.

  • How Do I Prepare?

    Judges’ orientations will be held to help prepare you for the main event. In addition to in-person orientation, we will host an online orientation, using zoom, for those who cannot make it to our offices in Baltimore. If you would like more information or plan on attending either of these sessions please contact Isabella Altherr at You can also learn more via a previous year’s online webinar.

    Training Materials: Upon registering to judge, you are encouraged to review the National History Day rulebook to see specific details about the categories and procedures, as well as the annual contest theme. You can also look at sample projects from previous competitions.

    Judging instructions and evaluation forms for specific categories are also available.

    Tips and Sample Questions

  • Expectations of Judges
    As a judge, you will:

    • Sign up in advance.
    • Attend a judge orientation
    • Work with another volunteer to review projects and interview students.
    • Select the strongest projects to advance to the next level of competition.
    • Provide thorough written feedback about each project you view.
    As a judge, you are responsible to:
    • Arrive on time to all events for which you sign up and stay until the judging process is completed.
    • Let us know as soon as possible if your schedule changes and you are unable to judge.
    • Remember the age of your audience. Some students are as young as 6th grade and may be nervous to discuss their work.  Ask questions which prompt students to provide information, and be patient if they are shy or anxious.
    • Pay careful attention so you can evaluate well. Students have worked for months on their projects and are looking forward this opportunity to share their work.
    • Judges should avoid distractions such as personal phone calls, texts, etc. during the event.  Judges may not bring minor children that they need to supervise to the event.
    • Let the History Day staff know right away if there are problems. We are here to help!

  • What to Expect on Judging Day
    Detailed instructions will be sent in the weeks leading up to the contest. On the day of the contest, you will be given a packet with important information such as the schedule for your team, evaluation forms, and other contest forms.

    There are two rounds of judging: the first round takes place in the morning, beginning at 9 and usually ending around noon. First round judges should set aside at least six hours. The second round of judging (runoffs) takes place in the afternoon, usually between 1:30-3:30. Because of the shorter time frame, second round judges do not interview students; however, they make the final decision regarding who advances on to the national competition.

    Judges for the paper, website, and documentaries categories will review the projects electronically at least one week before the competition and will interview students the day of.

    Tentative Schedule
    7:30 a.m. – Judges arrive for breakfast/brief orienation
    9:00 a.m. – Judging in all categories begins
    12:00 p.m. – First-round of judging is finished
    1:00-1:30 p.m. – Second round of judging begins
    3:30 p.m. – Awards Ceremony begins

  • Are there other volunteer opportunities?

    I don’t feel comfortable judging, but want to help. Are there other roles I can help with?

    At any contest, our biggest need is for judges. However, we do have multiple opportunities to assist with the big day!
    • Administrative: Stuffing and labeling student packets, making copies, etc. This work mostly takes place in month leading up to the state contest. The time and amount of hours is flexible.
    • Electronic Project Review: Students advancing from county History Day competitions to the state Maryland History Day competition can take advantage of our electronic review process. Volunteer reviewers will provide a thorough project review with constructive critique for improvement in quality and competitiveness. The time and amount of hours is semi-flexible.
    • Logistical: Building monitors and other assistance the day of the contest. The Maryland History Day contest takes place at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Volunteers can be expected to work anywhere from three to eight hours dependent upon the specific assignment.

    Sign up to be a volunteer here!

    If you have any other questions about serving as a non-judge volunteer, please contact Isabella Altherr at

  • “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
  • “[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
  • “The thing that had the most impact were the skills that I got from this project. I developed better hunting skills in terms of looking for reliable sources and I also learned to work hard and not procrastinate to achieve something great.”

    Maryland History Day student participant
  • “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
  • I’ve loved judging! It’s exciting to see the passion the middle schoolers have put in their projects. I hope that my critiques have helped strive for excellence throughout their lives.

    Dee Krasnansky, Maryland History Day Judge
  • “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
  • “History Day has taught men how to interpret and effective use primary sources in my writing to create and support claims. Now I am much more likely to explore databases, go to libraries, and explore further external sources for credible and effective sources.”

    Maryland History Day 2019 Student
  • “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 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
  • “[My son] became a real expert in his topic and, he says, developed a life-long love of history, especially the history of music. I cannot thank you enough for this rare and incredible opportunity.”

    Andrea LeWinter, parent of Maryland History Day 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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “MHD illustrated the applicability of the study of history to contemporary issues and current events. It was very motivating to converse with the students about their historical topic and observe how they applied it to current events and their own life circumstances.”

    ​Maryland History Day parent
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Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities.
Maryland Humanities
108 West Centre Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-4565
(410) 685-0095
(410) 685-0795 fax
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