Texas History Day, and National History Day 2008

Your classes are gearing up for the competition, no?

Alfie Kohn might not like the idea of competition in history. In a state famous for competition in almost everything, but most famous for athletic competitions to the detriment of academics, I find great appeal in a contest that requires kids to find, analyze and write history.

Then the students get together to present and discuss history — and usually about 60 Texas kids go on to the National History Day festival. (Details here from the Texas State Historical Association)

Q. What is Texas History Day?

A. 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 33,000 young Texans are involved in the program at the regional and state level each year. More than 900 students participate in Texas History Day, and approximately 60 students represent Texas at National History Day each year.

The 2008 National History Day Theme is “Conflict and Compromise in History.”

Texas has 23 regions for preliminary rounds. Details here. A list of sample topics for Texas students should give lots of good ideas.

The topics and the papers promise a lot. These projects could make good lesson plans. (Who publishes the winning entries? I have not found that yet.)

Don’t forget the Texas History Day T-shirt Design Contest — entries are due by December 14, 2007.

3 Responses to Texas History Day, and National History Day 2008

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Glad you stumbled in! But I am not finding a link to the magazine from the TSHA site. Is it too obvious for me? What is the link?

    UPDATE: Here’s a link to the order form:

    Is the magazine available on-line?


  2. Stephen Cure says:

    In response to the question above about where to find historical papers from the Texas History Day program, the answer is, in the Texas Historian. The Texas Historian is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association which publishes the best writing from the organization’s Junior Historian and History Day programs since 1940. Subscription information can be found on the organization’s web site. I should know, I am the editor of the publication and the Texas History Day state coordinator who happened to accidentally stumble upon the information above.


  3. Rebecca says:

    Having judged local and regional National History Day competitions, I can attest to the value of the contest. While I’ve seen some kids (and, let’s face it, some teachers, too) get prize fever, most of the students involved benefit from the level of depth and responsibility involved. The level of excitement when kids get the chance to work hard on something they find interesting, even if it’s not in the textbook, is striking.
    You’ve rounded up some great resources, too — thanks for sharing!


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