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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between NHD and Social Studies Fair?
A: The main differences are that NHD is discipline specific and emphasizes historical research, students can choose from five categories (documentary, exhibition, performance, website, or paper), and winning state entries have the opportunity to compete in the national competition in College Park, MD, June 11-15, 2017

Q: Can I participate in both NHD and the WV Social Studies Fair?
A: Yes (exhibit entries only)

Q: Is there a fee to participate?
A: No. It is free to participate.

Q: How do students qualify to compete in the WV state NHD competition?
A: Individual schools will select entries that are to advance to the state competition by either holding their own competition or other means of selection. We have set a limit of 3 entries in each category for groups and individuals per school. There are 5 categories (paper, exhibit, performance, documentary, website) and for all of them except papers, groups and individuals can enter. If you had 3 entries for each category for group (except papers) and individuals, that is feasibly 27 entries per school.

Q: Can I choose a West Virginia topic? 
A: Absolutely. You will have greater access to primary sources if you choose a WV topic.

Q: Can I revise my entry after my school and state competitions?
A: Absolutely. This is one of the most important aspects of NHD. Students incorporate feedback from the judges to strengthen their entries before advancing to the next competition. Students cannot change categories after the state competition.

Q: What are the different research project categories for National History Day?
A: There are five different categories, each with their own unique requirements and challenges. They are: a documentary, an exhibit, a paper, a performance, and a website.

Q: How many sources should my project use?
A: The average national winner uses about 25-30 primary sources and about 25-30 secondary sources…for about 50-60 sources total.

Q: What if I can’t find any primary sources on my topic? 
A: There are primary sources for every topic. It might be useful to think about the place your topic took place and start by searching the state archives and state historical societies. All states have a state archives. You can also review the citations for your secondary sources. You cannot list these in your bibliography unless you actually consult the original sources. Because most secondary sources only include excerpts from an original source, you need to examine the original source in its entirety if you are going to use it to inform your research.

If you are still having trouble, feel free to contact  Lori.Hostuttler@mail.wvu.edu with research questions.

Q: How can I write a good thesis statement? 
A: Every research project needs a thesis - an idea that you are arguing. A good thesis should be short and to the point and it should sum up your main idea in just a sentence or two. Furthermore, a good thesis should tell what the project is going to prove, while addressing exploration, encounter, and exchange.

Q: What is Chronicling America and do I have to use it?
A: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers is a free database that enables users to read historic local and regional American newspapers from the 1830s to 1922 created through a partnership of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Library of Congress. You don’t have to use it, but all entries need primary sources, including available newspaper articles and this is a great source for enhancing your research. At the national competition, a $1,000 prize will be offered in both junior and senior divisions to entries that make the best use of newspaper resources available on Chronicling America. To be eligible, projects must properly cite content from Chronic America and note it in the primary sources section of their annotated bibliographies.
Learn more about Chronicling America prize

Q: What is the judging like?
A: All students will meet with a team of 3 judges during the state competition. Unlike the WV Social Studies Fair, NHD entries must stand on their own. The student interviews do not count toward the final scoring. It is a chance for students to discuss their research in a collegial manner with professional historians. There is no need for students to prepare a presentation but simply converse with the judges. They might ask you to justify why you listed a sources as “primary,” how you came up with your topic, or what you learned through the research process.

Q: If I win the state competition, how do I register for the national competition?
A: We will submit information about the state winners to the national office to open the WV registration within a week after the state competition. There is a $110 per student fee and a $45 teacher fee to enter the national competition.