Once you understand the rules and the theme for National History Day and have chosen your historical topic, it is time to choose how you want to present your work. But what are the categories? And how are they different?
Start by checking out the NEW NHD Contest Rule Book for an overview of each category and for specific details about requirements. The National History Day Massachusetts state contest is the qualifying contest for National History Day, so the rules are the same. You can also check out examples of past winning projects in each category to get inspired.
For 2022, all students must also submit a virtual version of their project, even if the competition itself is in person. For guidelines, please visit our Virtual Projects page.
Here are the five project categories:
The documentary category will help you to develop skills in working with photographs, film, video, audio, computers, and graphic presentations. Your presentation should include primary-source materials and also must be an original production. To produce a documentary, you must have access to equipment and be able to operate it.
- Documentary Description
- Documentary Project Checklist
- NEW Documentary Evaluation Form
- NHD Webinar: Documentary Production in the Classroom. Learn how to use video editing tools to create a documentary from start to finish! Presenter slide show.
An exhibit is a visual representation of your research and interpretation of your topic’s importance in history. Viewers should be able to follow your historical argument easily, and the analysis and interpretation of your topic must be clear. Labels and captions should be used creatively along with visual images, media, and objects to support the message of your exhibit.
A paper uses a traditional historical essay format to convey your research and historical argument. Creative writing (e.g., fictional diaries, poems, etc.) are allowed, but must conform to all general and category rules. Papers are the one category that must be individual and cannot be done as a group project.
A performance is a dramatic portrayal of your topic’s significance in history and must be an original production. It should be scripted based on research of your chosen topic and should have dramatic appeal, but the primary focus is historical information and research. You can support your performance through costumes, props, and set materials.
- Performance Description
- Performance Project Checklist
- NEW Performance Evaluation Form
- Performing Perspectives: Who Tells Your Story? This webinar offers great tips on how to approach your Historical Performance. Includes short highlight segments on how to avoid cultural appropriation and harmful stereotypes, researching historical clothing, and more.
Your historical website should be a collection of web pages, interconnected by hyperlinks, that presents both primary and secondary sources and your historical analysis. Viewers should be able to follow your historical argument clearly in your website. To engage and inform viewers, your website can incorporate interactive multimedia, text, non-textual descriptions (e.g., photographs, maps, music, etc.), and interpretations of sources.
Important 2022 Announcement: For the 2022 contest season, we will be accepting NHD websites created on a school account in alternative platforms such as Google websites or Microsoft for the Massachusetts Regional and State contests. This is ONLY applicable to the Massachusetts competitions, and students who advance to Nationals will have to recreate their websites in NHDWebCentral if they wish to compete. Please see our Virtual Project Guidelines page for rules and details of using an alternative website builder.