Who else does History Day?
Some students participate as part of history class. Others do History Day as an independent project or for extra credit. Students in schools and home schools participate. Creating a project for Vermont History Day can help you learn history and new skills!
What is the theme this year?
The 2013 theme is Turning Points in History; People, Ideas, Events. Your project can be about Vermont history, US history or world history - but it must relate to the theme. A turning point in history is when something changes. As the theme explains, the turning point can be a person who initiates change, or an idea or event that causes change. You can also focus on the effects of the turning point on people or ideas or events – or some combination of the three. (You don’t have to include all three concepts in your project.)
Can you give me an example of a topic that fits the theme?
The construction of the interstate could be considered a turning point in Vermont history. The new highways, built between 1957 and 1982, allowed both Vermonters and tourists to drive throughout the state more quickly and easily than before.
A project about the interstate system in Vermont might highlight the location and construction of the roads. But a good History Day project includes research and analysis and investigates WHY the construction of the interstate was a turning point and HOW it led to changes in Vermont’s population, economy, landscape and/or culture. You could also focus on the new “people” who came to Vermont on the interstate. Or you could investigate “ideas” by looking at how the new people who came to Vermont after the construction of the interstate brought new ideas and changed the politics of Vermont.
Some questions to consider would be: What was Vermont like before the construction of the interstate? What changed during construction of the interstate or right after construction? How has Vermont changed in the 30 years after completion of the interstate highways? Are the demographics of towns near the interstate different from towns far away from the interstate? How has the interstate affected tourism or business in Vermont? What other events happened in Vermont in the 1960s that changed the culture and economy of the state? What happened when interstates were built in other rural states?
When you create a History Day project, you are the historian and you get to decide your direction based on your interests and research!
What is a primary source and why do I need to use them?
Primary sources are the building blocks of history that help us know what happened in the past.
A primary source for this topic would be an article from Vermont Life magazine in 1966 that talks about what people thought of the interstate while it was being constructed.
A secondary source would be a book like Freedom & Unity, A History of Vermont that describes the construction of the interstate and how it changed the economy and population of Vermont.
The Freedom and Unity website contains a primary source photograph and quote and a secondary source analysis of the topic.
Historians – and History Day students – use primary sources to know what happened and to develop our own interpretations of the past.
Learn more about primary sources and where to find them online.
What are some other Vermont topics that fit the theme?
Read this list of possible Vermont topics (PDF).
Where can I go in Vermont to find primary sources?
Many museums, libraries and archives have primary sources like diaries, letters, maps and photographs. The Vermont Historical Society library and archives has a great collection of primary sources. Some of these are even available online. There are many museums and libraries in Vermont that have primary source collections (PDF).
What type of project should I do?
There are five categories for History Day projects. You should choose the category that best matches with your strengths. If you are artistic, you might want to create an exhibit or a performance. If you are good with computers, you could make a website or documentary. And if you like to write, you might want to do a research paper. All of the categories require research - and a bibliography. If you need more help deciding, see what National History Day has to say about starting a project and creating an entry. You also need to decide whether you want to create an individual entry or a group entry - with a group of 2 to 5 students. (Papers must be individual projects.)
Are there examples of projects?
The National History Day web site has examples of winning entries in each category. Follow this link and then click on a particular category to find the sample entry. You can also borrow examples from the Vermont Historical Society lending library.
Are there rules I need to follow to create my entry?
Yes, there are rules about things like how many words can be in your exhibit (500) or how long your documentary can be (10 minutes). Click here for the official rule book. (The 2010/11 rulebook is the most recent version.) And if you want to make a web site, you must create your entry using the NHD/Weebly portal.
What will judging at the Vermont History Day contest be like?
At the state contest, you will talk with two or three judges about your project. They will probably ask you questions like why did you choose your topic and what did you learn from your research. The judges will also provide feedback about your entry - which is really helpful if you qualify for National History Day. Click here for more information about what the judges will be looking for.
Can I win any prizes?
The main reason to participate in History Day is to learn! But there are some prizes. The top two entries in each category with an superior or excellent rating qualify to attend National History Day in June in College Park, Maryland. (Each category is also split into Junior and Senior divisions, so you are competing against students your own age.) There are also Special Prizes, some of which offer prize money that some students use to pay for their trip to National History Day.
Do you have any resources about creating History Day projects?
We do - and you can borrow them from our lending library. Check out the list of helpful books and videos.
Can I get some feedback or suggestions before the contest?
Yes! Come to the Student Help & Research Day (PDF) on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the Vermont History Center in Barre. Help will be available from 10:00-4:00. You can also research at the Vermont Historical Society Library that day if your project involves Vermont history.
What's the deadline to enter Vermont History Day?
March 15, 2013 is the registration deadline. The entry fee is $5.00 for per student. For example, the registration fee for a group of 2 is $10.00 and the fee for a group of 5 is $25.00.