X Ny History

Contest Info

General contest Information


When you arrive at the contest site, you must check in at a registration desk. You will receive a schedule of events that explains where and when to set up your entry and the time of your judging interview. The contest will be divided by format: documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and web sites and each format includes two divisions, a senior level and a junior level. Dress Code Plan to wear what the working world refers to as “business casual.” Basically this means skirts, slacks or khakis, button down shirts, nice sweaters, etc. Being clean and neat is most important. Also, don’t forget that costumes are not allowed unless you are competing in a performance.

Judging Overview

Each individual or group will speak with a set of judges once during the contest. Judges will be divided into groups of two or three qualified volunteers who are eager to learn about your project. You should expect these types of questions:

• How did you start your research?

• What drew you to this topic?

• How does your topic relate to the theme?

• What is the significance in history of your topic?

• Why did you choose these colors?

• How did you decide how to organize your exhibit, documentary, paper, etc.?

• What primary sources did you use and where did you find them?

Be prepared for all of these and more questions, but do not script your answers. You will be more comfortable and sound more natural if you think about what you might say but do not try to memorize it.

Judging Rounds

In a large contest, your entry may compete in two rounds of judging. In the first round, every entry is reviewed and judged. The top entries from this round will then compete in a final run-off round of judging. For exhibits, papers, and web sites, you will not be told if your project advances to the final run offs. For performances and documentaries, you will be notified if you are selected for the final run-off because you must perform again or replay your entry. During the final run-off rounds, you will not be asked any further questions by the judges. Please make sure you have extra copies of your process paper and bibliography for the run-off judges.

Award Ceremony

Winners in each division and all categories will be announced at the awards ceremony. Students progressing on to the next level of competition should receive information about the next contest at this time.

After the contest

After the contest you will receive the evaluation sheets filled out by each of the judges who interviewed you. Use their comments to improve your project if you are advancing to the next level or to improve your entry for next year’s contest.



Outline your script. It should include both your verbal commentary and storyboard of video clips, images, and audio. In order to make your argument in an organized way, think about introducing the topic, presenting your evidence, and show how it supports your conclusion.


Gather the images that support your conclusion. An exhibit is a visual story and the text created helps the viewer understand the message. Consider a layout that clearly expresses your conclusion, whether it is chronological or shows opposing viewpoints. The visual layout is important, only second to content and research.

Historical Papers

Start with an outline. It will consist of a introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Ask yourself these questions: How will I lay out my argument? In what order will I present my research and information?


Outline your script. Make sure the performance is backed by your primary research and dramatically portrays your conclusion. Add your conclusion into the performance without saying “My conclusion is.” With a performance, consider sets, stage movement (called “blocking” in theater) and props.


You must create your website using the National History Day website builder, which you can find here.  Keep a copy of your Site Key to use during the registration process.


What are the differences between Local, Regional, State, and National History Day Contests?

Each level of the competition will be more challenging, but you will also find fun opportunities to meet new people, visit museums, and/or sample life on university campuses. The judging and the feel of the contest will become increasingly more formal as you advance. Luckily, you should be gaining confidence after each interview so by the time you reach the national level you will have had many opportunities to speak with judges and use their feedback to improve your project. Remember that you can and should make adjustments to your entry between contests. Regardless of which contest you attend, remember that you are representing New York, your region, your town, and your school to all of the people you meet, including judges, volunteers, teachers, and other students. Be proud! Everyone will be impressed by your scholarship and hard work!


For more detailed information about the judging process see pages 36-39 of the National History Day Contest Rule Book. There are three evaluation criteria that judges are required to use when evaluating a project:

Historical Quality (60%)
Clarity of Presentation (20%)
Relation to the Theme (20%)

Historical Quality

The most important aspect of your entry is its historical quality. You should ask yourself the following questions to help you focus on your historical analysis.

•     Is my entry historically accurate?

•     Does my entry provide analysis and interpretation of the historical data rather than just a description?

•     Does my entry demonstrate an understanding of historical context?

•     Does my annotated bibliography demonstrate wide research?

•     Does my entry demonstrate a balanced presentation of materials?

•     Does my entry demonstrate use of available primary sources?

Clarity of presentation

Although historical quality is most important, your entry must be presented in an effective manner. You should ask yourself the following questions to help you focus on your presentation.
•     Is my entry original, creative, and imaginative in subject and presentation?
•     Is my written material clear, grammatically correct, and accurately spelled?
•     Is my entry well-organized?
•     Do I display stage presence in a performance?
•     Is my visual material presented clearly?

relation to theme

Your entry must explain clearly the relation of your topic to the annual NHD theme. You should ask yourself the following questions to help focus your topic on the theme and its significance.
•     How does my topic relate to the theme?
•     Why is my topic important?
•     How is my topic significant in history and in relation to the NHD theme?
•     How did my topic influence history?
•     How did the events and atmosphere (social, economic, political, and cultural aspects of my topic’s time period)
influence my topic in history?

rule compliance

Rule infractions occur when you violate any of the rules stated in the Contest Rule Book. Infractions are not grounds for disqualification, but judges will take any rule infractions into consideration in their final rankings. Failure to comply with the rules will count against your entry. Any rule infractions should be corrected before a winning entry competes in the next level of competition.


A project may be disqualified from the contest on three grounds:
1.     Plagiarizing all or part of the NHD project. Please note that failing to give proper credit is plagiarism.
2.     Reusing, individually or as a group, a project (or research from a project from a previous year, or entering a project in multiple contests or entry categories within a contest year.
3.     Tampering with any part of the project of another student.


What is National and New York History Day?

National History Day, a year-long educational program hosted in New York State by the Fenimore Art Museum, encourages students to explore local, state, national, and world history. After selecting a historical topic that relates to an annual theme, students conduct extensive research by using libraries, archives, museums, and oral history interviews. They analyze and interpret their findings, draw conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, and create final projects that present their work. These projects can be entered into a series of competitions, from the local to the national level, where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators.

Can I participate in New York History Day?

History Day is open to all students in grades 6-12. All types of students participate in NHD–public, private, parochial and home-school students; urban, suburban and rural students; academically gifted and average students, and students with special needs.

How does History Day work?

There are two divisions of competition: junior and senior. There are eight categories of entries for each division: individual exhibit, group exhibit, individual documentary, group documentary, individual performance, group performance, individual paper, individual website, and group website. Students can compete at the school level to qualify for their local regional contest. Winning students in regional competitions may move on to state competition, and the top two entries in each category and division at the state contest are eligible to participate in the national contest.

What am I required to do to participate in New York History Day?

Students choose a history topic related to NHD’s annual contest theme, conduct extensive research over the course of the school year, and create performances, documentaries, papers or exhibits which they may enter in competition at the district, state and national level.

How do I get started with History Day?

First, students should find out if their school has an established History Day program. If not, they simply need to find a teacher who would be wiling to act as a sponsor for their projects. He or she just needs to be someone who can help the students with their time management, and serve as a mentor as they research and create their work. Students do not need to register to participate in the program unless they plan on competing. Some schools have their own contests first to determine who will move on to the regional contests. Regional registration forms are typically due in February. Check the regional homepages for more specific information. Top entries at the regional contest may move on to the state contest. Registration information for the state contest is online, and details will be given to the winners at the regional contests.

How many students and teachers participate in History Day?

In New York State, the program is growing by leaps and bounds. In 2007 we had over 7,200 students participate in 148 schools. Nationwide, 700,000 students and 40,000 teachers annually participate in National History Day programs. More than 2,000 students from across the country attend the national contest (from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools and American Samoa).

Who runs New York History Day?

Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown has been the state-level host of the program since 1980. Fenimore Art Museum partners with other organizations throughout the state, including historical societies, museums, teacher centers and BOCES, to run regional contest and recruit new participants. New York History Day 2020 is sponsored by a grant from Humanities New York and by Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum.

When is National History Day?

Every day is National History Day! History Day is a year-long program that culminates in a national contest in June in College Park, Md.

How did National History Day begin and how did it get its name?

National History Day started as a small contest in Cleveland in 1974. Members of the history department at Case Western Reserve University developed the initial idea for a history contest to make teaching and learning history a fun and exciting experience. Students gathered on campus to devote one day to history. They called it “National History Day.” Although the name has remained the same, NHD has grown into a national organization with year-round programs and a week-long national contest.

Is History Day just a contest?

History Day is more than a contest; it is reforming the way history is taught and learned. The contest provides teachers with an innovative teaching tool and fosters students’ enthusiasm for learning. In addition to the contest, NHD offers teacher workshops, summer student academies, summer teacher institutes, curricular materials and other resources for educators.

How long has New York History Day been around?

National History Day began in Cleveland in 1974 and expanded throughout Ohio and into surrounding Midwestern states. In 1980 it became a national program, and the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown became the official New York State sponsor. In 1992 National History Day moved its headquarters to the Washington, D.C. area.