Texas History Day, a part of the National History Day program, is a yearlong education program that culminates in an annual state-level history fair for students in grades six through twelve. It provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their interest in, and knowledge of, history through creative and original papers, performances, documentaries, individual interpretive web sites, or three-dimensional exhibits.
Over the course of the school year, students research and produce a History Day entry, the results of which are presented at a regional competition in early spring. From there, some students advance to the state fair in May, or even to the national contest held each June at the University of Maryland at College Park. At each level of competition, outstanding achievement may be recognized through certificates, medals, trophies, or monetary awards. The most important rewards are the skills and insight that students acquire as they move through the History Day program.
As many as 50,000 young Texans are involved in the program at the regional and state level each year. More than 1,000 students participate in Texas History Day, and approximately 80 students represent Texas at National History Day each year.
In Texas there are 23 regions. For a complete list, with contact information for each regional coordinator and an explanation of the area each region covers, click here. We will post regional fair dates and locations as soon as we receive them.
Yes, you may. All students participating in a regional fair must first have their work evaluated at the local level by a teacher using the National History Day criteria and rubrics. Home-schooled students are encouraged to work with their local associations or consortiums to set up such evaluations or local fairs. If you have questions regarding this process, you should contact the Educational Services Division.
Students may enter in one of eight categories: individual or group performance, individual or group exhibit, individual or group documentary, individual or group interpretive web site, and individual paper. A performance is defined as a dramatic portrayal of the topic. An exhibit is similar to a museum exhibit (typically a three-panel tabletop display). A documentary can use slides, video, or any noninteractive computer program such as Quicktime, Shockwave, or Microsoft Access. A paper must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words in length (about six to ten typed pages). The interpretive web site may include up to 1,200 student-composed words and no more than 100 MB file space.
No, there are separate divisions for junior high school (sixth through eighth grade) and senior high school (ninth through twelfth grade) students. Thus, for example, sixth graders do not compete against twelfth graders.
The top two finishers in each category — junior high school group performance, senior high school individual documentary, etc. — at Texas History Day advance to National History Day, just as the top two finishers in each category at the regional level advance to Texas History Day. Judges evaluate entries using three main criteria: historical quality, clarity of presentation, and adherence to theme.
The theme is determined at the national level, so students all over the United States are addressing the same sorts of topics. Although students may select topics on any aspect of local, regional, or world history, the presentation of their research and conclusions must clearly relate to the annual theme. While teachers and parents can offer help and advice on the mechanical aspects of the project, the students are solely responsible for the research, design, and creation of entries. The TSHA has compiled a list of entries from the Handbook of Texas Online that relate to this year's History Day theme.
You can view the contest rule book and curriculum guide at the National History Day Web site. Your regional coordinator can also provide History Day materials and details on your regional fair. For information on the state contest, contact the Educational Services Division.