Each year, National History Day selects an annual theme. The broad themes encourage students to research a wide variety of topics. Students should use the theme to frame their analysis and show why a topic is significant in history.
The 2021 theme is "Communication in History: The Key to Understanding." Projects can be about Massachusetts history, U.S., or world history - but all projects must relate to the theme.
This year's theme asks us to consider how people exchange information and interact with each other. Inventions like the telegraph, telephone, and the internet stand out as ways that communication has changed over time. Languages and linguistic politics are another critical way to look at communication. How did people learn about news and new ideas through letters, newspapers, conventions, posters, or television? How did political or social movements spread their ideas? What are examples of when communication, or a failure to communicate, changed the course of history?
The Massachusetts Historical Society has created a MHS Theme Page for you to explore "Communication in History" in our collections. Or check out the theme pages below from local historical sites and archives to get inspired!
A number of Massachusetts libraries, museums, and archives have created their own lists of resources related to the theme "Communication in History." Get inspired by history in your backyard, and contact the librarians and archivists who work there for more ideas:
- Massachusetts Historical Society
- American Archive of Public Broadcasting
- Boston Athenaeum
- Plimoth Patuxet Museum
- The Gibson House Museum
- The Mary Baker Eddy Library
- The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society
- Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Or check out these NHD Partner Resources Pages to see theme lists from organizations across the country!