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National History Day. IT’S NOT JUST A DAY, IT’S AN EXPERIENCE. The Student’s role:. Select a topic related to the theme Investigate historical context, historical significance, and the topic’s relationship to the theme

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national history day

National History Day



the student s role
The Student’s role:
  • Select a topic related to the theme
  • Investigate historical context, historical significance, and the topic’s relationship to the theme
  • Conduct research in libraries, archives and museums, through oral history interviews, and by visiting historical sites
step 1
Step 1
  • Develop a paperwork management system
  • Organization is key
step 2

Step 2

Select a topic

the theme
The Theme
  • Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences

Debate OR Diplomacy: Some topics will deal with debate and others with diplomacy, but not both. That is okay! However, if your topic does deal with both debate and diplomacy, make certain that you deal with both in your entry.

successes failures consequences
Successes, Failures, Consequences
  • Your entry will need to explain how your topic was a success or a failure and its consequences. It is okay to deal with a diplomatic event that was a failure, just explain how and why it failed and what difference that made. As you do your research, remember to gather information so that you can decide if it was a success or failure.
why a theme
Why a theme?
  • The theme helps you ask questions and think deeply about your topic
  • Examine the arguments for and against
  • Explain the historical consequences of the outcome of the debate of diplomatic event
  • Whose success is it
  • Whose failure

A contention by words or arguments: as

a: the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure

b: a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides

examples of debates
Examples of debates
  • Lincoln/Douglas debates over slavery
  • Aristotle and Plato discussing “nature versus nurture”
  • Kennedy/Nixon televised debates in the 1960 presidential campaign
  • Who should be allowed to vote
  • Supreme Court cases
  • Constitutional amendments
more debate ideas
More debate ideas
  • The innovative music of Johann Sebastian Bach in the 17th century
  • Giuseppe Verdi opera lyrics in the 19th century
  • Rock music and juvenile delinquency
  • Rock music and drug abuse
  • Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
  • Formation of the NAACP
  • Topic—Constitutional Convention of 1787
  • Successes—The Constitutional Convention succeeded in continuous unity of the nation
  • Failures—The Constitutional Convention ignored the slavery question
  • Consequences—Civil War

1: the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations

2: skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility: TACT

examples of diplomacy
Examples of diplomacy
  • International conferences, treaties or summits
  • Land ownership in 18th century America and treaties with Native Americans
  • Black Hawk War of 1832
  • Dayton Peace Accords
  • Geneva Convention
  • Nixon’s 1972 trip to China
  • Missouri Compromise
  • Topic—Yalta Conference
  • Successes—Yalta Conference succeeded in bringing the U.S., England and Russia into diplomatic dialogue
  • Failures—U.S. and Britain compromised too much resulting in the establishment of the Eastern Block
  • Consequences—Spread of Communism
still have questions about the theme
Still have questions about the theme?

The National History Day staff will be holding an online discussion about this year’s theme where staff members will address questions from teachers, students and parents.

online discussion details
Online Discussion details

Wed., Oct. 20, 2010, 2:00-4:00 p.m. CT

You can send questions ahead of time Oct. 18-20, by emailing Make sure you have “NHD THEME DISCUSSION” in the subject line. You may also send questions to the same address during the discussion time.

Questions and answers will be posted online to read later at Look for the button on the home page that will take you to the online discussion page.

step 3

Step 3

Background reading for historical context

remember the context
Remember the context!
  • Identify that moment in time when your debate or diplomatic event occurred
  • What was happening that led to the debate or diplomatic event
  • What impact did your debate or diplomatic event have upon society
paperwork management reminder
Paperwork management reminder
  • Carefully record all your bibliography information as you use sources
start with secondary sources
Start with secondary sources
  • Secondary sources give you background
  • They help you put your information in historical context
  • Their bibliographies lead you to primary sources
  • They provide contrast
what are secondary sources
What are secondary sources?
  • Materials written by an author who was not an eyewitness or a participant in the historical event or period under investigation
examples of secondary sources
Examples of secondary sources
  • General historical works
  • Popular periodical literature
  • History texts
  • Journals
  • Monographs
step 4

Step 4

Narrow your topic

tips on selecting a topic
Tips on selecting a topic
  • Think about topics that interest you
  • Match your interest to the theme
  • Choose a specific issue within your interest area
  • Make sure your topic has depth
  • Verify the availability of resources
more tips
More tips
  • Do not overlook local history
  • Be sure you can illustrate effects (try to avoid events less than 20 years old)
  • Did I mention that it has to connect to the theme?
  • Munich agreement of 1938
  • Brown v. Board of Education
  • Federal Reserve Act
  • Ping Pong Diplomacy
  • Diplomacy at Versailles
  • The Buckley Report and rock music
  • The League of Nations
  • Women’s Fashion in the Gilded Age
  • Suffrage debates
  • Dropping the bomb
  • The Iran Hostage Crisis
  • Battle between the silver and gold standards
narrow with depth
Narrow, with depth
  • Theme—Debate & Diplomacy
  • Interest—music
  • Topic—Rock and Roll Music
  • Debate—The Buckley Report (the connection between rock music and drug abuse)
step 5

Step 5

Gather and record additional information

primary sources
Primary Sources
  • Primary sources are materials written or produced in the time period under investigation
examples of primary sources
Examples of primary sources
  • Letters, diaries and other first-person narratives
  • Photographs
  • Government records
  • Manuscript collections
  • Songs and hymns
  • Congressional Record
  • Tools, machines, furniture and other artifacts
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Court proceedings
  • Oral history interview
a note on the internet
A note on the Internet
  • Internet research is very popular
  • Not all resources are available on the Internet
  • Not all sources on the Internet are credible (no Wikipedia)
  • All sources must be evaluated
  • Research should be balanced
where can i find information
Where can I find information
  • Libraries
  • Historical societies and archives
  • Video stores
  • Museums
  • Family members
  • Your community
  • Community organizations
some questions to ask
Some questions to ask
  • What libraries, archives, museums or other organizations would have information on my topic
  • What are some key words, dates or people related to my topic that would help me find information in an index, card catalog or computer search
step 6

Step 6

Analyze and Interpret sources and the topic’s significance in history

examine how these factors contributed to your topic
Examine how these factors contributed to your topic
  • Economics
  • Social issues
  • Political events and ideologies
  • Technological developments
  • Cultural issues
  • Religious movements and ideologies
  • Analyze your topic and explain how it fits into historical context, why it is significant and what is its legacy
study cause and effect and change over time
Study cause and effect and change over time
  • Everyone is affected by prior events
  • Everyone’s action have an impact on others
  • People respond to events in different ways
  • Try to understand motivations
  • Explain the successes and failures
  • Examine consequences
questions to consider
Questions to consider
  • Why are my sources useful
  • What do these sources omit
  • Who is the author/producer/storyteller
  • Why was this document produced
  • Who was the intended audience
  • What biases are identifiable in these sources
  • Where should I look for more information
more questions
More questions
  • Do my sources agree or conflict? Why?
  • What do I know about the historical context that will help me understand this information
  • How does this relate to Debate and Diplomacy
step 7

Step 7

Develop a thesis

  • A one sentence statement that presents an argument about the topic that your project will then try to prove
thesis statements
Thesis statements
  • Addresses a narrow topic
  • Explain what the researcher believes to be the historical significance of the topic
  • Connects the topic to the theme
step 8
Step 8
  • See you at our National History Day Entry Construction Workshop on 9 November 2020. Thank you for attending. Email me if you have questions or suggestions for future workshops.