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 2015 theme is "Leadership and Legacy 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 defines leadership? What qualities do we associate with a good leader? What legacy developed from the leadership? Did the legacy create positive changes or did it leave a negative impression on history? You'll want to think about how your historical event, person or place generated "leadership" and what "legacy" was left behind. You should address both leadership and legacy in your project.
Can you give me an example of a topic that fits the theme?
If you wanted to focus on Vermont history, a sample topic could be the leadership and legacy of James P. Taylor, the founder of the Green Mountain Club and the Long Trail hiking path through Vermont. The Green Mountain Club (GMC) has been around for over 100 years and the Long Trail runs the length of Vermont, so you would need to narrow the topic. You could investigate the context (time period) of the movement to start the GMC. You could investigate Taylor's role in the starting the club and gaining supporters for the Long Trail. What legacy did Taylor leave behind? Fortunately, many records from the GMC and James P. Taylor are available for researchers at the Vermont Historical Society library in Barre.
One option to narrow the topic - and focus on legacy - is to look at the leadership of James P. Taylor and the Green Mountain Club regarding the building of the Green Mountain Parkway. The Parkway, a proposed road, would have crossed through Vermont's highest mountain peaks, similar to the path of the Long Trail. Taylor, also the leader of the Vermont State Chamber of Commerce, supported the construction of the road. The Green Mountain Club opposed the road, as did the majority of Vermonters on Town Meeting Day in 1936. How and why was Taylor on the opposite side of the club that he founded? How is Taylor's legacy different from the GMC legacy?
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?A good History Day project includes
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 get to explore the ideas of leadership and legacy within the topic you have chosen.
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 the papers of James P. Taylor. This finding aid describes what resources are in the papers. You could also read the transcripts of the oral history interviews used in the Green Mountain Chronicles radio program "The Long Trail." One interviewee discusses her memories of hiking on the Long Trail. Why was the Long Trail important to her? 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 journal article like "No Parking: Vermont Rejects the Green Mountain Parkway" that describes the debate between Taylor and the GMC over the Green Mountain Parkway.
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.
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 rule book has been updated for 2014/15 and contains several new rules. Please read the summary of rule changes (PDF). 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 (PDF) on Saturday, February 14, 2015 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 4, 2015 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.
Use the online registration form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VTHistoryDay2015