National History Day 2015

National History Day Mentoring Program - Students

Welcome to the NHD Mentoring Program.  Our goal is to help you do the very best work you can on your National History Day project.  You should know that you are part of a global program and this year almost 500,000 students just like you will be conducting research and presenting their findings.  The contest is always very exciting but remember this:  no matter what level you compete at know that you are to be commended for your hard work and diligence. 

Click here for upcoming December 2014- January 2015 NHD Webinars and Google Hangouts

Leadership and Legacy Theme Webinar Notes for Students

Getting Started

By reviewing the rule and theme books you've already started your NHD journey. The next step is to have a look at NHD's 'Getting Started' Page. Then visit our NHD Library Guide .  You can also visit the Society of American Archivists National History Day and Archivists Page . Check out the LaGrange College Special Collections and Suber Archives Libguide for NHD students here .

Once you've reviewed those pages and selected a topic you're ready to begin the adventure!


The NHD website has a wonderful page that can link you to a variety of online primary source collections in US History. If you have chosen a US History topic spend some time  here !! The National Archives has built a page dedicated to History Day Resources. Visit it  here !  

The National Archives and Record Administration in Atlanta has prepared a suggested topics list for the 2015 theme: 'Leadership and Legacy in History'. Have a look  here !

The Georgia Historical Society has prepared a great guide to finding Primary Sources.  Take a look at:  'Where to Find Primary Sources'  

Leadership and Legacy: FDR - The legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is a natural 'fit' for this year's theme.  The good folk at Lewis Library have prepared a Library Guide dedicated to FDR.  Given the ties between FDR and Georgia (especially West Georgia) its definitely worth a look. Find it  here!    

Also, great FDR information is available at the  Roosevelt President Library . Note, in particular, the online database  FRANKLIN .

Sources in Georgia History.   
Regional and local topics can be very powerful and successful NHD projects. You can explore the possibilities in Georgia by visiting the following: 

Digital Library of Georgia   

A gateway to Georgia's history and culture found in digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, government documents, newspapers, maps, audio, video, and other resources. The collection currently totals over a million documents. You can visit the library  here .

Our Georgia resources also include - 

The University of Florida Digital Collections - The George Smathers Library hosts a digitized collection consisting of over 8 million pages.  The collections include a wide variety of material from literature and newspapers to oral history's by veterans. Have a look  here

Oral History 
An important tool used by researchers is oral history.  While documents of state and even newspapers tend to focus on the policy makers and decision takers.  Oral history allows those most impacted by those decisions to be heard.  Their stories can be powerful tools in your NHD 'kit.' 

An excellent guide to oral history has been prepared by the Minnesota Historical Society and can be found  here

Contacting the Expert

The Chicago History Education center has a page dedicated to contacting the expert you wish to interview about your topic. Have a look  here .

Online Resources Check out these websites:

Creating an Entry

The heart and soul of any history day project is the thesis statement.  It is the fundamental point you wish to make. Building them requires time and effort.  When building one remember the general guidelines - 

  • Keep it short. Thesis statements should hover between 40-60 words. Too short, and there's not enough information to explain the argument. Too long, and too many details have been included. Plus, if the students are creating an exhibit, and they only have 500 student-composed words to use, it doesn't make sense to use up 100 of those words on just the thesis.
  • Include all five W's. The thesis is the first thing the viewer reads, so we should know immediately the who-what-where-when, and also the why-is-this-important.
  • Include the theme words. Judges and teachers need to know how the topic relates to the theme, especially if the topic is obscure, extremely narrow, or isn't immediately clear in its connection to the theme words.
  • Leave facts out, put arguments in. We don't need to see every detail of the topic in the thesis. Leave those for the project itself. What we need to see in the thesis is the student's argument, or the point he/she is trying to make.
  • Write, revise, research, revise. Students should not use the first draft of their thesis statement, but instead should revise based on feedback, go back to their research or conduct new research to make sure the thesis is accurate, and then revise once more.  (

The good folks at Minnesota National History Day also produced a really good video on the importance of the thesis statement.  Have a look  here

The staff of Lewis Library developed a Library Guide for LaGrange College Cornerstone students that introduces you to the basics of conducting research, proper citation and even avoiding plagiarism.  You might find this useful at various points in the building process.  Have a look  here .

There are five categories you can choose from and information about each can be found below.

Website guide  (Courtesy NHD Texas and NHD Washington) - Powerpoint presentation (loaded as a pdf) that introduces and reviews the Website category. 

Documentary - The guide to Documentary building can be found  here . Notice the page includes the 2009 junior individual documentary winner.    

Exhibits - The NHD Exhibit guide can be found  here . Notice it includes a national winner sample. 

Performance - The NHD Historical Performance guide can be found  here .  Here's an example of an  NHD winner  from 2009.

Historical Paper - The NHD Paper guide can be found  here .  It includes a link to a 2009 National winning paper. 

The Annotated Bibliography The annotated bibliography is critical to every NHD project.  It is the story of your research.  Through it you tell your reader (teacher, parents and judges) the story behind your exhibit, website, documentary, paper or performance. It must be organized, detailed, correctly formatted and complete.  Each entry must have an annotation that explains the source's thesis, place in the topic's scholarship and role it played in your work.  It can be daunting and intimidating! Fear not intrepid NHDer for the Lewis Library has come to your rescue!!!!  Joe Marciniak and Dr. Arthur Robinson have prepared a LibGuide on the Annotated Bibliography. Check it out  here !

Contact Information

Kevin Shirley
Program Coordinator
Phone 706-880-8033

Contact the Program
Phone 706-880-8174