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Getting Started:  Students

By participating in History Day, you are embarking on an exciting experience that will teach you new skills, and strengthen ones you already have.  History Day is an exciting way to understand history and explore the past.  The competition invites you to research topics related to this year’s theme. This broad theme allows you to select and research an endless number of topics. From local to world history, and from ancient time to the recent past. 


Every journey starts with a single step.  So what are the steps to creating a history day project?

Step 1:  Select a Topic


History Day is fun, but it’s also a lot of work. You’ll be working on this project for many months. It is important that you choose a topic that you are really interested in learning more about. 


Ask yourself several questions to determine a general subject area that you can narrow down to a more specific topic. Do you like music? Are you interested in Japanese shoguns?  Do you wonder who invented the microchip or how Haydn’s classical music is similar to the punk rock of the 1980s?  Do you admire Japanese animation and wonder where it got its start? Everything has a history, so let your imagination fly.  Then, start making lists.


  • What or who are you interested in?

  • What sports, hobbies or activities do you like?

  • What are you really good at?

  • What are your favorite subjects in school?

  • Were any of your relatives involved in key moments in history? Talk to them.  Many parents grew up during the Cold War Era, for example.  Ask them to tell you what it was like.

  • What is your town or local region famous for?

  • Are you curious about how our region in Sacramento coped during historical events like the Great Depression or Prohibition?


Step 2:  Determine How to Present Your Topic


Next, you’ll need to decide whether to do an individual project or a group project (2 - 5 people) and which medium of presentation (category) is a good fit for your interests and talents!


It’s important to keep in mind that every category will involve a lot of writing and research.  Even the performance and documentary categories involve a great deal of planning, research, locating of primary and secondary sources and analysis.


If you like to write, the paper category is a good choice.  Only individuals can compete in this category.


If you like technology, consider the web site category or the documentary category.  Web sites are fun if you like working with the internet and your computer.  Keep in mind that web sites require research that goes beyond the internet to libraries, archives and personal interviews just like any other category.  The documentary category is challenging for competitors who have not worked with editing software.  Look into what software is available at your school or if you will need to find software on your own.


The exhibit category is a great idea if you like design, or if your category has visual elements that you want to show in your topic analysis.


Take some time to explore the different types of projects (listed to the right) you can create for History Day to determine which category type would work best for your topic.


Step 3: Contact a History Day Mentor for Students


Once you’ve decided on a category to participate in and a topic to research, a History Day Mentor for Students can provide you additional assistance as you finish your project.


A History Day Mentor for Students is a working professional who has skills appropriate to the category (website, performance, exhibit, etc.) you’ve selected to participate in and have participated in the History Day program in various capacities. These professionals are donating their time to help guide students.  They understand the judging process and are willing to answer your category specific questions via email and/or telephone.  Think of these mentors as an extra coach with a special interest or expertise in your project category!  A mentor can teach you about a specific issue or coach you on a particular skill. They may help facilitate your growth by sharing resources and networks or may challenge you to move beyond your comfort zone.


Find complete guidelines about our History Day Mentor for Students program, as well as a list of all available mentors, here. 

Information & Downloads
Sacramento Local Topics
Competition Rules


It's important that you understand the general NHD Rules and the specific rules for your category before you create your entry. Please review the following Rule Book.

HD Project Categories:
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