National History Day is a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation, and creative expression for students in grades 6-12. By participating in National History Day, students become writers, filmmakers, web designers, playwrights, and artists as they create unique contemporary expressions of history.
Since 2008, the Foundation’s Education Department has managed and hosted National History Day in PA. Held as a statewide contest, students research a historical topic, develop a thesis, and create a project to present their research. Regional contests serve as qualifying events for the statewide contest. National History Day in PA contest winners are selected to attend a national competition held annually at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Participation in National History Day in PA begins in the classroom. Students and teachers are strongly encouraged to read the NHD Rule Book, review annual theme materials, and visit the National History Day website to review lessons and tutorials before starting their projects.
Participation in the contest aspect of the NHD program starts with your Regional Contest. To get started, contact your Regional Coordinator for to learn how to register for your Regional Contest using the following link:
The following special prizes are offered at the State Contest. Students may self-nominate for these prizes during the State Contest registration.
The Mayflower Prize
The Mayflower Prizes recognize NHD in PA projects at the State Contest level that best illustrate the values of the Mayflower Passengers: religious freedom, economic opportunity, self-governance and multicultural respect. Four $1,000 awards will be given, one each for best Junior and Senior paper, and one each for the best overall project (excluding papers) in the Junior and Senior division at the NHD in PA State Contest. Sponsor: The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
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Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ History Prize
This award will recognize an outstanding entry in any category, in either division, that involves an aspect of LGBTQ+ history that is entered in the National History Day in Pennsylvania State Contest. Student projects must clearly reflect the theme of History Day and demonstrate balanced research and a clear understanding of the topic and its place in history. The use of non-traditional research sources (such as oral histories, photos, newspaper clippings, etc.) is acceptable because LGBTQ+ history is often not recorded in traditional formats. The award consists of one $500 award for the best project, three $100 honorable mention awards for the runner’s up. Sponsors: The LGBT Center of Central PA History Project and the PA LGBT History Network.
The Irwin Marcus Award
The Irwin Marcus Award will be given for the best National History Day in Pennsylvania paper in the Senior Division relating to the history of Pennsylvania, broadly defined. The award is a cash prize of $100 and honors Dr. Irwin M. Marcus, History Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and judge of senior papers for History Day for more than a quarter-century. Sponsor: The Pennsylvania Historical Association.
JUDGE AND COORDINATOR RESOURCES