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National History Day: Theme and Topic Suggestions

Choose & Narrow Your Topic

Topics for research are everywhere! Think about a time in history or individuals or events that are interesting to you. Start a list.
• Read books, newspapers or other sources of information and add to your list.
• Talk with relatives, neighbors, or people you know who have lived through a particular time in history that interests you and add more ideas.
• Keep thinking, reading and talking to people until you have many ideas that are interesting.

Now go back through the list and circle the ideas that connect with the theme. From the ideas that you circled, select one to begin your research. Keep your list because you might need it again. Selecting a National History Day Contest topic is a process of gradually narrowing down the area of history (period or event) that interests you to a manageable subject.

You must choose a topic that is historically important, relates to the theme of the contest, and one in which you have a genuine interest. Narrow your topic. For example, the Pony Express is an interesting phenomenon that was an innovative approach to transcontinental mail service. However, the topic of the Pony Express in general is very broad. You should consider what made the Pony Express so innovative and explore its legacy to American history to focus your research. Narrowing your topic is essential to a successful History Day project!

Generating a Topic of Interest Student Template

Where do you even begin to decide on a topic? Use this template (you'll be forced to create your own copy) to go through the steps to find a topic that will work for you.

Choosing a Topic of Interest Student Template

Please make a copy of this template to help you think through how you can choose a topic that is the most interesting to you.

Theme Graphic Organizer

During the 2023-2024 school year all National History Day students will dive into a topic based on the theme: Turning Points in History.

You will ask questions about time, place and context, cause and effect, change over time, and impact and significance.

It is important to consider not only when and where events happened, but also why they occurred, and what factors contributed to their development.

NHD Theme graphic organizer 

Introduction to 2024 Theme

United States History Sample Topics

Can I Do a Local History Topic?