Wisconsin Historical Society National History Day in Wisconsin Update

November 2008
National History Day logo Greetings!

Welcome to a new issue - and format - for the NHD in Wisconsin monthly update. We hope this will give you a more convenient and exciting way to learn about the National History Day program and opportunities for you and your students. Read on!
Changes to the Wisconsin Historical Society Library Reading Room renovation project allow us to schedule research field trips through mid-March. Research field trips are a truly engaging and hands-on experience! Experts will guide students in researching their projects at the WHS Library and Archives, which comprise one of the world's top American history research institutions. The itinerary for the day is tailored to accommodate each individual group's goals and schedule. Student researchers must have topics identified and a basic knowledge of their topic before arrival. Visits are most worthwhile when all topics relate to American or Wisconsin history. An ideal group size is fewer than 30 students, but we can often accommodate larger groups with enough advance notice. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a date.
The new NHD Rulebook contains updated website category rules for the 2008-2009 school year. These updates include changes to submission requirements for web site entries:
  • For regional and state competitions, students will submit the following with their registration materials, in advance of the day of competition: 
    • 4 copies of their website on CD
    • 4 copies of their process paper and bibliography
    • 1 print-out of their website
  • For the national competition, students will submit their websites online. Additional information will be provided at a later date to national finalists.

Students should remember that it is their responsibility to make sure all copies of their website are functional! Students should triple-check each CD by testing it on a different computer from the one used to build the website and on a computer not connected to the Internet. They should be sure to look at all pages and make sure the links and images are working correctly.

Let the NHD in Wisconsin staff bring the excitement of History Day into your classroom. This interactive program is designed to fit into one class period. We will introduce your students to the National History Day program, familiarize them with the presentation categories and discuss this year's theme. The presentation also includes the "Three Hats of the Historian" (a visual demonstration of the research process), a discussion of the importance of topic narrowing, and tips on creating projects in NHD project categories. Contact us for available dates!

High-quality exhibit boards are again available from the Minnesota History Day program. Unlike the typical science fair boards that can be purchased at office supply stores, these exhibit boards have proportional panels and more height.  This creates a more balanced display of images, sources, and text. The double-thick, corrugated boards are 48 inches tall and 72 inches wide. When displayed there are 23.5 inch wide side panels and a 25 inch wide center panel.  Optional title panels extend to the maximum 40 inch width allowed by History Day rules and are 10 inches tall.
In order to be shipped, boards and title panels must be ordered in increments of 10.  Exhibit boards are $7.00 each and title panels are $2.00 each. Prices include shipping and handling. More information and an order form are available on the NHD in Wisconsin web site (PDF, 30KB).
 Elementary School Children
Students across the state are selecting, narrowing, and finalizing their topics for NHD 2009. As they are making this difficult and important decision, extra feedback from you can help to lead them in the right direction.
  • Keep Brainstorming: Encourage students to brainstorm a wide variety of topics before finally committing to one. Basic research into a list of topic can reveal potential problems (or payoffs) before students get too involved.
  • Primary and Secondary Source Availability: No matter if students are looking at local, national, or international topics, they should check the availability of research resources for the topics topic they are considering. Good research is the foundation for successful NHD projects.
  • Narrow the Topic: Students are going to need to take an additional step this year in narrowing their topics. After they have done their initial research, encourage your students to narrow in on a particular aspect (event, idea, issue, etc.) that is related to their individual's life or legacy. This additional focus will help students to more effectively convey an argument through their project, rather than attempting to narrate an individual's entire biography
  • Is it History?: In light of how engaged some students have been in the presidential election, it's especially important to encourage students to look for topics that have taken place far enough in the past. Topics that are too recent make it challenging, if not impossible, for students to make an argument about the significance of that topic in history.
Applications are now being accepted for 40 summer seminars on a wide variety of topics sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. The Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminars are designed to strengthen participants' commitment to high quality history teaching. Public, parochial, independent school teachers, and National Park Service rangers are eligible. These weeklong seminars provide intellectual stimulation and a collaborative context for developing practical resources and strategies to take back to the classroom.

Seminars include:
  • Room and board
  • Books and teaching resources
  • Stipends of $400 (international seminar stipend of $500)
Seminars are limited to 30 participants by competitive application. Preference is given to new applicants. The application deadline is February 15, 2009. More information and application materials are available on The Gilder Lehrman Institutes' website.
Image of Abraham Lincoln.  WHS Image ID 48683
Abraham Lincoln Special Awards
In recognition of the 200th anniversary of his birth, Wisconsin's Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission will be sponsoring special awards at the 2009 state and regional National History Day in Wisconsin events. These awards will recognize students creating projects that explore Lincoln's importance to America's history. Find out more in the Lincoln Special Award and Topic Idea Sheet.
Please note: All students in grades 6-12 are welcome to create a project about Lincoln, even if they are not in a participating NHD classroom! Students can work independently to create a Lincoln-related project that meets NHD criteria and enter it in one of our seven NHD in Wisconsin regional events. View the Abraham Lincoln Special Awards page for more information.

Picket Line at Milwaukee City Hall, WHS Image ID 2941. American Labor History Special Awards
The Wisconsin Labor History Society, an affiliate of the Wisconsin Historical Society, will be awarding prizes to middle and high school students participating in the National History Day in Wisconsin competition in 2009. These awards will recognize projects focused on  American labor history.  Through these prizes the Wisconsin Labor History Society hopes to increase awareness of the role of working people in building a more just and equitable America. Find more information in the Labor History Award and Topic Idea Sheet.

Thanks for reading. We are excited to have you as part of National History Day in Wisconsin!

Sarah Clement, State Coordinator
National History Day in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Historical Society