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 2014 theme is "Rights and Responsibilities in History." Your project can be about Vermont history, US history or world history - but it must relate to the theme. The theme is broad and open to varying levels of interpretation. What are rights? Are responsibilities always attached to rights? You'll want to think about how your historical event, person or place generated "rights" or "responsibilities." Were these rights for the better? Was it a responsible action? You can also focus on the effects of rights and responsibilities on people through certain historic events. (You don’t have to include both concepts in your project but you might find that they are connected in further study of your topic.)
Can you give me an example of a topic that fits the theme?
One example of Rights and Responsibilities in Vermont History would be the Barre granite workers' strike in 1933. The granite workers went on strike for better wages and better working conditions. Many stonecutters suffered from silicosis, a lung disease caused by granite dust. The workers wanted the shed owners to install ventilation systems to remove the dust. The owners did not want to pay for new equipment or pay higher wages to the workers. During the strike, Governor Stanley Wilson sent the Vermont National Guard to Barre to patrol the streets and protect strike-breakers.
A good History Day project includes research and analysis and investigates what happened during the strike, how the industry changed (or didn't change) after the strike, and why this strike happened at this place and at this time. Historians examine the context of an event by looking at the time and place. How does this Barre granite strike relate to other strikes before and after? How were strikes in the granite industry similar to or different from strikes in the marble or other industries? A good History Day project also looks at the significance of the story and answers the question "So what?" Why is this story important to tell? How did this strike affect individuals and the community? How did this strike affect the history of Barre and of Vermont?
Your task as a researcher is to explore the ideas of rights and responsibilities within the topic you have chosen. Consider what rights the granite workers had or didn't have. Consider what rights they may have wanted and how this motivated their actions. Consider what the granite workers thought their responsibilities were versus the responsibilities of the shed owners. While this topic focuses on both rights and responsibilities, your topic can and may focus on either idea.
When you create a History Day project, you are the historian and you get to decide the direction of your research based on your interests and ideas.
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 oral history interview used in the Green Mountain Chronicles radio program "Fighting Silicosis: Dust Control in the Granite Industry." The interviewee discusses problems with granite dust in the sheds. What can you learn from the transcripts of the oral history interviews? The radio program itself is a secondary source because the producer used only clips from the interview and created a narrative story.
A secondary source would be a book like Freedom & Unity, A History of Vermont that describes the actions leading up to the strike, what happened during the strike, and how this and other strikes were resolved over several years.
The Freedom and Unity website contains secondary source analysis of the topic along with a related primary source quote and photograph.
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 8, 2014 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 14, 2014 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.