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National History Day Information Sheet

Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History
Resources at the LBJ Library and Museum for National History Day Projects, 2004

CenTex Region History Day Competition

The CenTex Region History Day competition will be held at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on Saturday, February 21, 2004.

What is National History Day?
National History Day is an exciting way for students to study and learn about historical issues, ideas, people and events. This year-long educational program fosters academic achievement and intellectual growth. In addition to acquiring useful historical knowledge and perspective while developing entries and competing in a series of district, state and national contests, students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that will help them manage and use information now and in the future.

National History Day is not just a day, but every day! The National History Day program is a year-long education program that culminates in a national contest every June. It engages students in grades 6-12 in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students produce dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries and research papers based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state, and national competitions.

The program begins at the start of the school year. Curriculum and contest materials are distributed to History Day coordinators and teachers throughout the country. The theme for 2004 is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History. In many states and districts, teachers are invited to workshops where they share ideas about how the year’s theme can be most effectively addressed and also receive bibliographies and other resources. Teachers then introduce the program to their students who, in turn, choose topics and begin their research. Students are encouraged to choose any topic in local, national or world history and investigate its historical significance and relationship to the theme by conducting extensive primary and secondary research. After analyzing and interpreting their information, students present their findings in papers, exhibits, performances, and documentaries that are evaluated by historians and educators.

National History Day has two divisions: the junior division (grades 6–8) and the senior division (grades 9–12). Students can enter one of the following seven categories: individual paper, individual or group exhibit (similar to a museum exhibit), individual or group performance (a dramatic portrayal of the topic), individual or group documentary (usually a slide show, a video, or a non-interactive computer program). Groups may consist of two to five students. District History Day contests are usually held in February or March. District winners then prepare for and compete at the state contests, usually held in April or early May. The top two finishers in each category at the state contest become eligible to advance to the national contest held in June at the University of Maryland at College Park. Go to www.nationalhistoryday.com for additional information.

Students, show your creativity by making history come alive in an exhibit, documentary, paper, or performance. By producing one of these projects, you have opportunities to win awards and scholarships, as well as learn about your history. If you are in grades 6-12, you may enter the contest in either the junior (grades 6-8) or senior (grades 9-12) divisions. You may participate individually, or as part of a group of up to five students. Public, private and home schools are welcome to participate.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum provides rich primary source documentation for your National History Day project. Visiting the Library to conduct your research would obviously provide the most information and documentation. However, many oral histories, a selection of telephone recordings, photographs, selections from the President’s Daily Diary, streaming media, and more are available online.

The theme, Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History is a broad one so topics should be carefully selected and developed in ways that best use students' talents and abilities. Whether a topic is a well-known event in world history or focuses on a little-known individual from a small community, students should be careful to place their topics into historical perspective, examine the significance of their topics in history, and show development over time. Studies should include an investigation into available primary and secondary sources, analysis of the evidence, and a clear explanation of the relationship of the topic to the theme. Then, students may develop papers, performances, documentaries, and exhibits for entry into National History Day competitions.

There are several guides students and teachers can use to create a project. Go to http://nationalhistoryday.org/02_contest/02.html to access forms, worksheets, tips, and more.

Numerous topics can be developed using resources from the LBJ Library and Museum. Some suggestions include:

  • Exploration of Space: The Decision to Go to the Moon

  • Encountering New Frontiers in Space: US reaction to Sputnik

  • Encountering a New Role of the Federal Government in Education: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1965

  • Encountering Medicare: Health Benefits for the Aged Guaranteed

  • Exchanging Grey Skies for Blue: The Clean Air Act

  • Encountering Beauty in Washington, D. C.: The Work of the First Lady's Committee for a More Beautiful Capital

  • Exchanging Blight for Beautification: The Highway Beautification Act of 1965

  • Encountering Tragedy: The Transition of Power following the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

  • Encountering Tragedy and Strife: The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and its Aftermath

  • Encountering Civil Rights: The March from Selma to Montgomery

  • Encountering Civil Rights: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • Encountering Civil Rights: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Encountering Violence: The 1967 Detroit Riots

  • Exploring Support for the Arts: The Establishment of the National Endowments for Arts and Humanities

  • Exploring Presidential Succession: The Ratification of the 25th Amendment

  • Encounter of the Great Powers: The Role of the US and the USSR in the Six-Day War

  • Encounter in the Middle East: The Attack on the USS Liberty

  • Encounter in Vietnam: The Attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin and the Resulting Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

  • Exchanging Nuclear Security: The Negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

  • Encountering Change: The Appointment of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court

  • Exchanging Poverty for Opportunity: The War on Poverty

  • Encounter With North Korea: The Capture of the USS Pueblo

  • Exchanging the Dark for Light: Bringing Electricity to the Texas Hill Country

  • Exploring Solutions to Famine: Food Aid to India

Related Links
National Archives and Records Administration
Meeting Educational Standards in the Classroom

For Program Rules and Information, contact:
National History Day
0119 Cecil Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
(301) 314-9739
National Contest: June 13-17th at the University of Maryland