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!
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What is the theme this year?
The 2018 theme is "Conflict and Compromise in History." Your project can be about Vermont history, US history or world history - but it must relate to the theme. And you should address both conflict AND compromise.
Can you give me an example of a topic that fits the theme?
One example of a Vermont topic that fits the theme is the controversy over the Green Mountain Parkway. In 1933, Col. William Wilgus proposed building a road that would run from Massachusetts to Canada along the peaks of the Green Mountains. You can see this map with the proposed path of the parkway at the Vermont Historical Society Library. Some people thought the road was a good idea; other people thought it was a bad idea. Exploring the arguments of the two sides would cover the “conflict” part of the theme.
What about the compromise? The construction of the parkway was very controversial. In 1935, the Vermont Senate supported funding to purchase land for the roadway. The Vermont House of Representatives opposed the funding. The legislature compromised and approved the funding – but only if voters also approved. On Town Meeting Day in 1936, Vermonters were asked to vote to support or oppose the legislature’s compromise. Since there is no road on top of the Green Mountains, you might guess that Vermonters voted against the Green Mountain Parkway.
It is an interesting Vermont story, but it is also connected to the Great Depression, public works and other roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway. The bigger picture is part of the context – what was happening during the time of the conflict? You also need to look at the significance of the topic – why is this an important compromise in Vermont history?
A good History Day project includes research and analysis and investigates what happened, how things changed (or didn't change), and why this topic happened at this place and at this time. Historians examine the context of an event by looking at the time and place. 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?
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. You can support your argument with evidence from primary and secondary sources. You get to explore how conflict and compromise have changed history.
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. The Vermont Historical Society Library has a box of primary sources that were collected by James P. Taylor, a strong supporter of the parkway. A finding aid explains what resources are in the collection. By reading these primary sources, you can learn more about what he and others said about the conflict at the time.
Secondary sources are also necessary to understand the context and significance of a topic. This article written by historian Hal Goldman provides background about the Green Mountain Club and their reaction to the Parkway. This video clip from Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie includes historians talking about the parkway and uses actors to show the controversy.
Historians – and History Day students – use both primary and secondary 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.
Practice analyzing, evaluating and citing primary sources at Thinkport.org.
What are some other Vermont topics that fit the theme?
Read this list of potential 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 conducting research. 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 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 2014/15 rule book is the most recent. And if you want to make a website, 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 on February 10 at the Vermont Historical Society Library in Barre.
What's the deadline to enter Vermont History Day?
March 13, 2018 is the registration deadline. The entry fee is $8.00 for per student. For example, the registration fee for a group of 2 is $16.00 and the fee for a group of 5 is $40.00.
Print and submit the entry form (pdf). Or use the online registration form. (Preview the questions for the online entry form.) See the Important Dates page for all the details.
If you have any more questions, contact Victoria at (802) 828-1413 or email email@example.com