National History Day

National History Day in ND

State Competition
April 17, 2020*

ND Heritage Center & State Museum


Danielle “Dani” Stuckle
NHD in ND Affiliate Coordinator

*April 24 is reserved as an alternate day in case of inclement weather

What is National History Day?

National History Day in North Dakota is a project-based learning program that emphasizes critical reading and thinking skills, research, analysis, and the drawing of meaningful conclusions. Students can complete these projects in groups or as individuals in one of five categories: documentary, paper, exhibit, performance, or website. They then compete in either the junior (middle school) or senior (high school) division. Regional winners compete at the state contest in April at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum in Bismarck. First and second-place state winners are eligible to compete in the national contest at the University of Maryland, College Park in June. National History Day in North Dakota provides teacher training and classroom resources throughout the year.

2020 Theme-Breaking Barriers in History

The National History Day theme for 2020 is Breaking Barriers in History. Join us this year as we examine the people, places, and events of history within the broad framework of building and breaking barriers. What does “breaking barriers” mean? Is a barrier human-made, like the Berlin Wall, or natural, like the Atlantic Ocean? Is it physical, like barbed wire, or ideological, like the Iron Curtain? Are barriers always negative, or can they be a positive influence—like antibiotics as a barrier to spreading disease? Your project could focus on North Dakota or on a historical movement from around the world. There are plenty of potential research topics in North Dakota history that relate to breaking barriers.

Getting Started

When developing a National History Day project, consider all the important questions and factors that contributed to the development and breaking of a barrier. What happened? Who was involved? Where and when did it occur? Why did it happen? Most importantly, ask yourself, "so what?" What was the impact of breaking a barrier? How did it affect the culture, lives, or environment of a community or the world? What were the short- and long-term outcomes? Was the barrier broken? Why is this topic important, and why must we understand its effects today? Use this Graphic Organizer to help students examine all these questions and the greater historical context within the theme of Breaking Barriers in History.


With the help of the primary and secondary sources available at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, you are sure to find an interesting topic related to the Breaking Barriers in History theme. Using primary source material from the North Dakota State Archives will not only improve the quality of your project but will also provide you with a deeper understanding of North Dakota history. The following finding aids contain the collection number and a brief description for some collections that relate to popular topics in North Dakota history:


North Dakota Resources:

Teacher Resources:

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    National History Day in ND

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