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Student Toolkit

National History in Idaho 2019
NHDI 2019

Resources to guide students through the National History Day process! 

Welcome to National History Day in Idaho! We are an educational program that creates opportunities for students like you to engage in historical research!

You can learn more about NHD by watching these short videos:

What is NHD?
Explore NHD
Student Reflections on NHD

Every year, National History Day selects a theme. This year the theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Themes help historians identify connections across time periods and places. Think of the theme as a magnifying glass into a topic. The theme magnifies a specific event, person, or issue to help you focus on, learn about, and draw conclusions based on your research and investigation. Every NHD topic should connect to the theme in a meaningful way. The theme is intentionally broad so that you can explore topics from local, national, and world history topics from any historical time period.

Learn about this year’s theme by watching the theme video and reading the narrative below:

Theme video

Theme Narrative

Selecting a topic is your first and perhaps most significant step in the NHD process. You want to choose a topic that connects well to the annual theme, will hold your interest over time, has sufficient sources to research, and is historically significant.

How do I start to pick a topic?

Are you having a hard time thinking of a topic?

Help! I have too many topic ideas!

Do you have a good topic?


At its heart, NHD is a research journey. For most students, this will be the most in-depth, independent research project you have ever undertaken. Of all the aspects of the NHD process, conducting quality research will take you the most time.

It is really important to stay organized as you begin your research.

Cornell notes are a great way to keep your research notes organized

Step 1: Build your background knowledge and gather information about your topic. Find answers to the who, what, when, where and why questions around your topic. Look at secondary sources like books by historians, magazines, newspapers, biographies, and documentaries.

  • Kid friendly search engines that block ads and filter inappropriate content can make researching easier and more enjoyable for younger students
  •  Try:
    • Kiddle
    • DuckDuckGo
    • Kidtopia
    • KidRex

Step 2: Understand and analyze primary sources. Historians rely on primary sources to explore their topic and to share the argument they are making. IN NHD, you will do the same thing. You will use primary sources to learn how people in your time period experienced historical events, consider different perspectives on the same events or issues, think independently and draw your own conclusions , and provide evidence for your thesis.

Primary Source Collections are a great way to get started exploring primary sources:

Analyzing your sources is the next step of the NHD process.

  • Lesson Modules – helps you develop the skills you need to analyze the sources you have found
  • Research Analysis Tool – the Library of Congress can help you evaluate the information you are collecting from your sources

Once you’ve identified and analyzed your sources, it’s time to evaluate the evidence you’ve collected.

Use this E.A.R. to get started evaluating your evidence.

The thesis statement guides the direction of your project. Use these guides to help develop your thesis statement.

YOUTH (4th and 5th grade)

Madlibs activity

JUNIOR/SENIOR (6th – 12th grade)

Thesis Development Worksheet 

The following guide will help you with the creation of your project:

NHD Contest Rulebook

Creating an annotated bibliography lets your reader know what sources you used in the creation of your project. The annotation informs the reader how you used your sources and why they were valuable to understanding your topic.

Your process paper gives judges insight into your research process.

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