Welcome to National History Day!

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Welcome to National History Day!

What is the National History Day Contest, you ask? Each year more than half a million students just like you participate. National History Day leaders choose an annual theme for which students should relate their projects to participate. The theme is quite broad which allows students much leeway when choosing topics. Students can select local, regional, state, national or world history topics for their projects. However, the presentation and conclusions of the research MUST clearly relate to the annual theme. The annual theme helps students go beyond just describing a person or historical event. It forces them to research and show clear analysis as well as draw a conclusion about the topic’s significance in history. The annual theme gives the students the frame work to begin their research and analysis of a historical topic.

You will choose a historical topic related to the annual theme, and then conduct primary and secondary research. Since this project is part of our curriculum, the topic must be related to course content and your topic must meet teacher approval. In your research, you will look for rich and diverse sources from libraries, online databases, print, audio, and visual media, archives and museums, conduct oral history interviews, and visit historical sites. After you analyzed and interpreted your sources, and have drawn a conclusion about the significance of your topic, you will then present your work in the form of an exhibit, documentary, performance, paper, or website.
In December or January, a committee of social studies teachers will recommend the top projects in each category to advance to regionals. The local contest is held in March, usually at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum here in Shreveport. You don’t have to win first place in your category to advance to the next level. Lastly, if you win at the state level, and the contest will be held at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans in April, you will be eligible to attend the National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland-College Park in June. This is where the best NHD projects from across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, International School, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe all meet and compete.
Congratulations on embarking on your National History Day journey! It is sure to be a memorable one. You never know what information you might find, or whom you may get to meet. And the skills you will learn along the way will last a lifetime.

To find out more about the program, go to: http://www.nhd.org

Particularly helpful pages within the National History Day web site:



http://www.nhd.org/TeacherResources.htm (use the high school resources)

This packet used original text and sections, and modified some, of the NHD teacher/student booklets at: http://www.msubillings.edu/historyday/teachers/MTNHD%20Teachers%20Toolkit.pdf http://library.lexingtonma.org/lhs/projects/NationalHistoryDay/NHDpacket.pdf


and the National History Day web site

National History Day: Rights and Responsibilities in History

Timeline of Assignments

**Dates are subject to change! Please listen carefully in class for changes!

Key Date**



Before the next due


Week of

August 26

Write specific due date your teacher gives you for

your class:


~Project and theme are


~Discussion of sources

1. Introductory packet

2. Topic selection worksheet

3. Individual/ group decision contract

4. Topic and right/responsibility table

~Use the “Topic selection

worksheet” to brainstorm which topic you would like to do and the format in which you will

do it. The topic is a time, place, event, or theme in history.

~Use the “Who do I work with, if anyone?” worksheet to decide if you will worth alone or in a group. You and your parents will need to sign the contract on the back.

~Keep track of all of your sources using MLA format! Use Organizing Research Sheets.

Turn in topic and right/responsibility table.

Week of September 3

Due for your class: ________

~Topic and right/responsibility table.

Receive feedback on suggested topics and discuss possible groups with teacher.

Week of

September 16

Due for your class: ________

~Topic selection


~Individual/ group decision and contract

~Note-taking methods

~MLA format and annotations

~Do some background reading

and take notes in your chosen method

~Annotated bibliography in

MLA format with 3-5 sources, at least 1 primary source. Separate primary and secondary sources.

Week of

October 18

Due for your class: ________


reading notes

~Annotated bibliography with

3-5 sources, 1 of which must be primary. Separate primary and secondary sources.

~Background reading

notes and sources will be checked off.

~Thesis development

~Finalize annotated bibliography with 10 minimum sources, 3 must be primary. (Add to the sources you already have.) Make sure you are using a variety of sources. (Internet, book) Use example annotated bibliography as model.

~~Use your research to develop

and finalize a thesis.

Week of

October 28

Due for your class: ________

~Working thesis

~Annotated bibliography with

10 sources, 3 must be primary. Separate primary and secondary sources.

~Final thesis submitted

~Finalize your project: paper, exhibit, documentary, web site, or performance.

~Write your process paper

Week of November 18
Due for your class: ________



DUE (Including final process Paper and annotated bibliography)

~Once you get your project

back, think about whether or not you want to compete in the school-wide competition. If you do, take the feedback you got on your project and fix things so that they are perfect for the school-wide competition.


Faculty Recommendation to advance to regionals

Details TBA




Details TBA




Details TBA




Name ________________________ Class ______Date_______

Web Organizer: Generate details about your History Day topic. Develop some basic research questions based on your brainstorm.

Research Questions

1. ________________________________________________________________
2. ________________________________________________________________
3. ________________________________________________________________
4. ________________________________________________________________
5. ________________________________________________________________
6. ________________________________________________________________
7. ________________________________________________________________
8. ________________________________________________________________

Eight Steps of Historical Research

Preparation Process

Step 1: Develop a paperwork management system
Organization is a key factor in successful research. The students should select a paperwork management system at the beginning of the project. Students can…

Keep notes on note cards, as you did in the FRP.

Keep notes organized by source in a running Word document.

Keep notes organized by sub topic. Make sure you keep track of all your sources! Use the source tracking sheet.

Step 2: Understand the theme and select a topic
Students must select a topic related to the annual theme. Make sure you read the document in this packet that explains the theme very carefully. Brainstorming ideas or looking through the history textbook are great ways to begin thinking about potential topics. For ideas on theme connection and topic selection please see the NHD annual theme book. You will complete a Topic Selection Worksheet to get you thinking about your project.
Step 3: Background Reading for Historical Context
In the excitement of getting started students sometimes skip one of the most important steps: building historical context for their research topic. Students should read widely about their topic. You must have a solid foundation of knowledge before you can build the rest of your argument. If there is a flaw or gap in your understanding, your entire argument could easily come crumbling down! Look at several different history books about the time period in which the topic takes place.
Step 4: Narrowing Your Topic
Selecting a National History Day topic is a process of narrowing the area of history (period or event) that interests the students. For example, if the student is interested in Native Americans and the theme is Rights and Responsibilities in History, a natural topic would be treaty rights. After reading several texts and journals about Native Americans and treaties, the process might look something like this:
Theme: Rights in History Interest: Native Americans Topic: Treaty Rights Issue: 1788 Fort

Schuyler Treaty

Or, if the student expressed an interest in Women's Rights and the theme is the Rights and Responsibilities in History, the student might consider voting rights. After a library search and reading several texts about the struggle for suffrage in a particular region or era, you might want to narrow down to a particular person involved in the movement in your suggested region or era.

For more topic ideas on this year's theme, see the Sample Topics: Rights and Responsibilities Sheet in this packet. You can use some of these topics if they relate to your course content.

Step 5: Gathering and Recording Information
To be responsible researchers, students must credit sources from which they gathered information. To begin the process, however, it is important for the student to collect the critical information from each source as they read. Use the Organizing Research Sheets.
Historians prefer to use Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian, but because you are more familiar with MLA in high school, we’ll be using MLA for our citations.

For help with citations, use the MLA citation guide in this packet or visit Purdue’s Online Writing Lab and select MLA.

Annotated bibliography
An annotated bibliography is required for all categories. The annotations for each source must explain how the source was used and how it helped the student understand the topic. The student should also use the annotation to explain why the source was categorized as primary or

secondary. Historians do sometimes disagree and there's not always one right answer, so students should use the annotation to explain why they classified their sources as they did. Students

should list only those sources used to develop their entry. An annotation normally should be about 2-3 sentences.
Example: Source

Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock. 1st ed. New York: David McKay Co. Inc.,

1962. Annotation

Daisy Bates was the president of the Arkansas NAACP and the one who met and listened to the students each day. This first-hand account was very important to my paper because it made me more aware of the feelings of the people involved.

Step 6: Analyzing and Interpreting Sources and the Topic's Significance in History
Historians do more than describe events. They analyze and interpret information gathered from their sources to draw conclusions about a topic's significance in history. Students should do the same and consider the following:
* Elements of change and continuity (what stays the same)]

* Historical context: economic, political, social and cultural atmosphere of the time period

Students must critically examine their sources:
* Who created the source?

* When was the source created?

* What was the intent or purpose of the source?

Step 7: Developing a thesis
The thesis statement is usually one sentence that presents an argument about the topic. The body of the paper or website, the script of the performance or documentary, the headings and captions in an exhibit then are used to support the thesis using evidence from the research.
A good thesis statement:
* Addresses a narrow topic

* Explains what the researcher believes to be the historical significance of the topic

* Connects the topic to the National History Day theme
We will be doing an activity to help you write your thesis after you have done much of your research.
Step 8: Finalizing an NHD research project
When research is completed and ready to present to an audience, must make sure their final product includes:
* Analysis and interpretation

* Significance and impact

* In depth research

* Historical accuracy

* Historical context

* Adherence to the theme

National History Day

Rubric/ Judging Criteria


Quality (60%)

Excellent/ Exemplary

Good/ Proficient

Needs Improvement/



Entry is

historically accurate

Well-chosen, sophisticated, and

focused evidence that clearly supports thesis.

All evidence is accurate, and all

evidence supports thesis.

Some inaccuracies in evidence.

Evidence does not necessarily support thesis.

Significant historical

inaccuracies. Evidence does not relate to thesis.

Shows analysis and


Analyzes historical evidence

with sophistication, clarity, and originality. Evidence is consistently interpreted in relation to the theme and is clearly stated in the thesis. Thoroughly and consistently evaluates the successes, failures, and consequences of the chosen debate/diplomacy.

Analyzes historical evidence.

Interpretation of evidence is stated in the thesis. Consistently evaluates the successes,

failures, and consequences of the chosen debate/diplomacy.

Weak analysis of evidence.

Analysis may not necessarily relate to the theme. Thesis does not reflect interpretation of evidence. Inconsistently and weakly evaluates the successes, failures, and consequences of the chosen debate/diplomacy.

No interpretation of

evidence. Analysis does not relate to the theme. Does not assess the successes, failures, and consequences of the debate/diplomacy.

Places Topic in

Historical Context

Accurately and appropriately

places the topic within the social, political, economic, and/or cultural atmosphere of the time; clearly demonstrates the relationship between

the topic and larger events.

Displays some connections to

the social, political, economic, and/or cultural atmosphere of the time; relationship between the topic and larger events is evident.

Product focuses on the

specifics of the topic itself and may not relate to the overall atmosphere; does not clearly illustrate the relationship between the topic and larger events.

Product focuses exclusively

on the specific topic and does not connect to larger events; virtually no historical context provided.

Shows wide


Evidence gleaned from current

and older sources; print and non- print; journals and well-chosen internet sites

Evidence taken from a variety of

print and non-print sources.

Evidence used from a

narrow collection of sources.

Research has no variety in

types of sources.

Uses Available

primary sources

Primary sources are above and

beyond the expected for the topic

Solid primary sources expected

for the topic

Primary sources are limited.

No primary sources used.

Research is


Multi-faceted approach to

evidence; many conflicting positions presented with care.

At least two sides of topic are

presented equally

Lopsided research; not enough

evidence from different perspectives.

Research illustrates only

one perspective. Competing perspectives are missing.

Relation to

Theme (20%)

Excellent/ Exemplary

Good/ Proficient

Needs Improvement/



Clearly relates

topic to theme

Chooses an interesting topic that

is relevant to the theme. Demonstrates a superior understanding of how the topic relates to the theme.

Chooses a topic that connects to

the theme.

Analyzes how the topic relates to the theme.

Chooses a topic that connects

to the theme.

Fails to clearly connect the topic and the theme.

The topic is not relevant to

the theme.


significance of

topic in history and draws conclusions

Demonstrates a sophisticated

and thorough understanding of the significance of the topic in history.

Clearly and convincingly evaluates the topic as a success or failure in history.

Draws original and compelling conclusions about the consequences of the topic in history.

Analyzes how the atmosphere

of the time period influenced the topic.

Demonstrates the significance of

the topic in history.

Evaluates the topic as a success or failure in history.

Draws conclusions about the consequences of the topic in history.

Considers how the atmosphere

of the time period influenced the topic.

Attempts to demonstrate the

significance of the topic in history.

Evaluation of the topic as a success or failure in history is unclear.

Draws some conclusions about the consequences of the topic

in history.

Provides little consideration of how the atmosphere of the time period influenced the topic.

Neglects to demonstrate the

significance of the topic in history.

Does not evaluate the topic as a success or failure in history.

Fails to draw conclusions about the consequences of the topic in history.

Does not consider how

the atmosphere of the time period influenced the topic.

Clarity of

Presentation (20%)

Excellent/ Exemplary

Good/ Proficient

Needs Improvement/



Written material

is original, clear, appropriate, organized, and articulate

Written material is captivating,

creative, original, appropriate and clear. Includes no

spelling or grammar mistakes.
Written material is organized a “visual essay” with distinguishable sections that support different elements of the thesis and demonstrate a well-balanced project. Written material shows an excellent comprehension of the material.

Written material is original,

clear, appropriate, organized, and articulate

Written material shows some distinguishable sections that support various elements of the thesis and show some balance.
Includes few spelling or grammar mistakes.

Written material attempts to

be original, clear, appropriate, organized, and articulate.

Written material attempts to show balance and support the thesis
Includes spelling and grammar mistakes

Written material

neglects to be original, clear, appropriate, organized, and articulate.

Written material does not support the thesis
Includes many spelling and grammar mistakes

Has visual impact,

uses multi-media effectively and actively involves viewer

Project is striking, clear, and

obviously organized in a manner that best supports the thesis. A variety of visual or other media are used to actively involve

the viewer in an engaging, appropriate, and original manner.

Project has visual impact, uses

multi-media effectively and actively involves viewer

Project attempts to have visual

impact. It uses some multi media and involves the viewer.

Project neglects to have

visual impact and uses few visuals. Does not actively involve the viewer.

National History Day

Topic Selection Worksheet

This year’s theme: Rights and Responsibilities in History
1. My/our general area of interest:

For example: Modern Warfare, Cold War, India, and Terrorism

2. Preliminary topic ideas:

3. Issues/questions that could be explored within the topic regarding the theme. In other words, right or responsibility* that falls within your area and topic of interest.

4. How is this right or responsibility important in history? Provide historical context. What ideas or events led to this right or responsibility? Who fought for this right or responsibility? Who has earned this right or responsibility? Who should have this right or responsibility? Who has protected this right or responsibility?
5. How might you best present your research? Your choices are a tri-fold exhibit (like you see at science fair), a website, a performance, a paper, or a documentary. Which are you most comfortable using? Which do you think would be most effective in displaying your research?
Name(s) ___________________________________________________________ Class __________________ Date _________________


Right or Responsibility

Why is this historically important?

Name ________________________ Class __________
National History Day

Individual/ Group Contract

Please check the box below to indicate if you work individually or as a group. If you are working as a group, list your group members. Please sign below, and then have your parents sign also.
This is due on .
For National History Day this semester, I will be working…


By signing this document, I verify that I have read and understand this packet. I am prepared to take on this project by myself and I understand that I will be graded the same way that students who are working in groups will be graded.

Student Signature: Date:
Parent Signature: Date:

In a group
If you checked this box, list the group members here:
By signing below, you are acknowledging the following:

I agree to work with the people above I have listed above on the project.

I understand that the groups cannot change no matter what after .

I accept that everyone who is in my group, as listed above, will receive the same grade on the project unless there is definitive proof that a group member did not do their assigned work.

Student Signature: Date:

Parent Signature: Date:

Please note that for the final product, papers must be individual projects. All project categories require a short process paper and an annotated bibliography. If in a group, each group will have to complete a handout during every phase of the project detailing the tasks and responsibilities of each group member, and each group member and his/her parent must sign off on the sheet when that phase of the project is assigned. When that phase of the project is due, each member must specify what they completed during that phase, and each member and his/her parent must sign off on the sheet when that phase is due.




The purpose of your National History Day project will be to present evidence in support of a thesis. Everything about your project evolves from your thesis statement.

As you look at your History Day topic you will develop some conclusions or ideas about your topic. There will some overall ideas that express what your project is truly and will show the point you are trying to make. This is the thesis statement. When a scientist wants to prove a hypothesis in science, he/she will run tests or an experiment to prove or support the hypothesis. Your project is like that experiment to prove and support your thesis statement.


 It takes a stand on the topic

 It incorporates the History Day theme.

 It is a clear statement with a strong focus.

 It shows that your project is an important event in history.

 Just by reading it, a person will know what your whole project is about!


 Once you have a topic start your research. Use a secondary source to get an overview of the topic.

 Develop your own research questions once you have read the general information.

 Decide what really gets your attention and makes you want to know more about the topic. Your thesis should be able to answer your largest questions.

 Think about how your topic matches the theme. Use a two column chart or a web to evaluate how it fits in with “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”

 Use the Thesis Statement handout to develop your thesis.

 What to do if you prove yourself wrong? Don’t panic! You just modify your thesis and continue with your project.

Name: __________________________ Class: ___________Date: ___________


It is often one of the most difficult tasks in writing a paper or doing a project. Use this worksheet to help develop and refine a topic for National History Day.





Name(s) _______________________________________ Class __________ Date ____________

Organizing Your Research

Notes on Source (attach additional pages of notes on the source behind this sheet if needed and write the name of the source at the top or insert page numbers to keep organized):

Type of Resource:



 Credible Book

Academic Journal Article

 Credible Web Site

Newspaper or other reputable periodical

 Other: _______________________


URL (if applicable):

Author(s)/Editor (s):


Place of Publication:

Date Published:

Place I found it:

How is this source helpful?

MLA format of citation:


The final part of your History Day project is to write a process paper.


A process paper is a description, in no more than 500 words, explaining how you conducted your research and created and developed your project. You must conclude your description with an explanation of the relationship of your topic to the National History Day theme.

A title page is required as the first page of written material in every category. You title page MUST include only the title of your entry, your name(s) and the contest division and the category for which you are entered. DO NOT include your age, grade, school or state (once you have reached the national competition).The following is how your process paper should be arranged by section:

First section – Explain how you chose your topic

Second section – Explain how you did your research

Third section – Explain how you selected your presentation category and created your project

Fourth section – Explain how your project relates to the NHD theme


“I” statements are called “a first person narrative style and must contain “I.” Use these “I” statements to describe what actions you took researching and creating your project. Also be sure to you transition words that indicate the passage of time.

“I” Statements:

I went to the library to research…

I contacted the inventor …

I decided to do a web site because…

I went to the local historical society and found three good sources…

Transitional Words


After a few hours


At the same time

At last






First of all


In the end

In the future

In the meantime








In order to get a good grade on your process paper, you must meet the following criteria:

 Formatted cover sheet  Effectively use transition words

 Paper is word processed Answers major questions

 Checked for spelling & grammar Clearly addresses each of the 4 sections

 Less than 500 but more than 350 words Connects the theme with the project



*Formatted cover sheet

*Paper is word processed

*Paper is checked for spelling & grammar

*Paper is 350-500 words

Possible Points: 10

Points Received:

Teacher comments:


*Topic sentences sum up what is contained in the paragraph

*Paragraphs are well developed

Possible Points: 10

Points Received:

Teacher comments:


*Paper address the 4 sections

*Paper contains I statements that

help demonstrate the creation of

the project

*Theme is connected to project

Possible Points: 10

Points Received:

Teacher comments:


*Paper takes the reader through

the process from start to finish

*Use of time transition words indicate the order in which

events took place

Possible Points: 10

Points Received:

Teacher comments:

GRADE: _____________________

Albert Einstein:

The Man Behind the Manhattan Project

Albert Einstein has always stood out as a prominent figure in history. I had selected several other possibilities for creating a project for National History Day, but he stood out prominently in my mind. My fascination with the amount and complexity of his work—the work that added to what Sir Isaac Newton had begun—the story behind his life, his strive for peace in the world, and his role in the development of atomic weaponry that led the United States and the Soviet Union into the development of the Cold War led me to select him for my National History Day Project.

Upon my selection, I began my research in a biography and a book explaining the development of the atomic bomb. In these books, I examined the story of his life and his

development of the Theory of Relativity, which included in depth discussions, as well as

attempted to discover his connection to the process of creating the atomic bomb. I discovered he had been used as a political tool and performed a minute amount of work on the actual process. As my research progressed, I began examining Einstein’s article on the Theory of Relativity. With the understanding of the concepts outlined in his article, a clear connection between his work and nuclear weaponry was made.

Afterwards, I continued my research with the examination of Einstein’s letters to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other articles that discussed his association with the atomic bomb and his attempts at supporting peace. From these, I gathered that he had originally thought the idea of producing atomic weaponry through nuclear fission was a very distant, if not impossible idea. I discovered that he had also supported the effort of the atomic bomb’s creation out of fear that Germany would produce one. After Germany’s fall he realized the mistake he had made and advocated for peace. From there, I examined other secondary sources, such as the AIP Center for the History of Physics and doug-long.com, which discussed Albert Einstein’s political role in the atomic bomb’s development as well as analyzing his frame of thought when he advocated the creation of the weapon.

Albert Einstein fits this year’s topic of the “Individual in History,” for he altered he world stage. With his letters to the president, he placed into effect the Briggs Committee that later became the Manhattan Project. From the Manhattan Project, came a worldwide nuclear arms race, which resulted in the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as well as the Soviet Union’s procurement of nuclear weaponry. Although this was not Einstein’s initial intent, he plunged the world forward into the realms of the Cold War, one of the most terrifying times in United States history. He also created ground-breaking steps in the development of physics. With the publication of his Theory of Relativity, his ideas are currently being applied to such applications as time travel. He changed the world with an equation, and the signing of his name.

Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources

Einstein, Albert. "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies." Annalen der Physik 17 (1905).

Fourmilab. 7 Jan. 2009 .

This is an article by Einstein outlining his theory of Relativity. It provides an in-depth discussion and explanation of the General Theory of Relativity. Also, this article provides the missing link between mass and energy connection.

"Einstein Deplores Use of Atomic Bomb." New York Times 19 Aug. 1946: 1.
This article shows the reaction of Albert Einstein to the dropping of the atomic bomb. It

reveals his pacifism and depicted Einstein as an advocate for peace. Finally, it expresses

the irony of what Einstein had previously believed and had done in regards to the atomic

bomb development.

"Einstein's Letters to Roosevelt." Hypertextbook.com. 20 Feb. 1997. 19 Dec. 2008


This source provides a detailed look at the letters of Albert Einstein to Franklin Delano

Roosevelt. With extra comments left by the creator, this site allows an in-depth look

behind the scenes. This site is a combination of primary and secondary sources.

Secondary Sources

"Albert Einstein and the Atomic Bomb." Hiroshima: Was It Necessary? The Atomic

Bombing of Japan. 7 Jan. 2009 .

This website gives a brief analysis of Albert Einstein's role in the development of the

Atomic Bomb. This source takes a look at both the political aspects as well as the

scientific aid of Albert Einstein. This source also supplies an account of Einstein's beliefs

on the dropping of the bomb.
Clark, Ronald W. Einstein : The Life and Times. New York: HarperPerennial, 2007.
This book, is a biography that covers the entire span of Albert Einstein's life. It discusses

his Theory of Relativity and his role in atomic bomb development. Finally, it depicts

Einstein as a political tool in the process of creating the atomic bomb.

"Einstein Exhibit -- Nuclear Age." The American Institute of Physics – Physics Publications

and Resources. 19 Dec. 2008


This website provides an analysis of Einstein and his role in the development of the

atomic bomb. This site also examines the work of other individuals in a microscopic

view. Finally, this site discusses Einstein's pacifism and his personal beliefs.

Rhodes, Richard. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon & Schuster, Limited,


This book covers, in depth, the entire process of creating the atomic bomb. It provides a

brief and concise background on Einstein's life and his contributions to the scientific

domain. Also, it provides his role in creating the Manhattan Project.

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