November 15, 2018

NHD 2019: Choosing a Topic for a History Project & Getting Started

The graphic above from the Chicago Metro History Fair (CMHF) is a great encapsulation of how to choose a topic for a history fair project. In addition, ask yourself the questions listed below.

  • Does the topic relate to the 2019 National History Day (NHD) theme: Triumph & Tragedy in History?
  • For Illinois students, does the topic relate to local or Illinois state history?
  • Does the topic really interest you?
  • Do you have a personal connection to the topic? (It’s not necessary but it can be a good thing.)
  • Will you be able to find enough primary and secondary sources to thoroughly research the topic?
  • Why is this topic important?
  • What will people learn from your project?

Below we dig a bit deeper and uncover some strategies from TPS-Barat and CMHF for selecting a topic for your history fair project.

Understanding NHD Projects

Exploring the theme

Each year NHD chooses a particular theme that must be the focus of student projects. For 2019, the theme is Triumph & Tragedy in History. Before doing anything else, make sure you understand the theme.

Investigating topics

  • Review NHD sample topic ideas and sample topic resource lists (links to primary sources & related resources).
  • Illinois students need to keep it local so it can help to review the CMHF suggested topic ideas and search the TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus for related resources.
  • Flip through newspaper and magazine articles about current events that you find interesting or concerning and then consider the historical and local angles to those topics. (Remember, the theme is Conflict & Compromise in History; your project may not be about a current event.)
  • Browse through a history textbook.
  • Check out local and state historical sites, museums and websites.

Narrowing topic choices

Getting started on your project

Selecting, Using & Citing Sources

Speak Your Mind

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