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History Day
What is History Day?
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Getting Started on Your Research Journey

And the question is: where do I start?

Read the Contest Rulebook for an overview of the program and its guidelines.

Read Introducing History Day: Almost Everything you Need to Know to Get Started on your History Day Adventure. This is a great starter manual for any History day project.

Following these steps to get your History Day project going!

Choosing a Topic

What interests you? Think of a historical period, time, place or person that you interested in or intrigued by.
Once you have an idea in mind, make sure it relates to the annual theme.
Make sure the topic is narrow enough to cover in a History Day project. Narrow the topic by time, geography or people involved or afffected. For example: Women's suffrage is a broad topic. It can be narrowed to: Carrie Chapman Catt's 1916 "Winning Plan" for Suffrage Victory.
Check back for a list of Ohio topics that relate to the 2012 theme.


Where to find sources? There are lots of locations in your won backyard to conduct research! Local libraries, historical societies, archives, museums, and university libaries to name a few.
Use caution when doing Internet research. Take a tutorial on using internet sources. Wikipedia is a good starting point, but should not be cited in a scholarly bibliography. Look at the list of reliable internet sources identified by NHD-OH. The Directory of Ohio Historical Organizations can help you find a research institution in your neighborhood.

Additional Research Resources and Tips
Good to Know

  • Sometimes hours and staff working vary. Call the organization ahead of time to make sure that they will be open when you plan to be there and that any staff interested in your topic also will be there.
  • You will not be able to check out material. Since most of the items are one-of-a-kind, many places do not allow you to remove any items or books from their buildings or reading rooms. Be sure to bring plenty of paper or note cards for note taking and a pencil! Because of the rarety of the materials you could be looking at, most historical societies only allow pencils to be used when looking at the books and materials.
  • Don't forget to bring money for admission and copying!
  • Expect to stay at the historical organization researching for a while. Often you will not be able to select books and materials yourself from the shelves. You will have to request that someone bring the information to you. Taking notes will also add to your time.
  • Get the big picture before you go! It is a good idea to do some research even before you go to a historical society or museum. Check out books from your school or local public library to find out general information about your topic before you go looking for the details.
  • Ask for help! Librarians and archivists can help you make the most of your research time. They are often able to talk with you about their collections and other related research. They might be able to recommend other research facilities to try, books to read, or professors to interview.

Writing a Thesis: Each History Day project will have a thesis statement.
Tips on creating a thesis:
A History Day thesis statement should help show why the event, person, place or topic is significant to history.

Historical Significance can be defined in many ways. An event, person, place or idea is historically significant if they:

  • Are unique to the time period, transcends time and place,
  • Explain relationships in history, how people, ideas or events are connected or related to each other.
  • Influence many subsequent events
  • Affect a large number of people
  • Help discern patterns to explain the world around us
  • Help show history from many different perspectives or from multiple voices
  • Help understand past motivations and actions within the historical context of the time the event occurred.

A Thesis Statement is one sentence that:

  • States the writer's central idea;
  • Predicts or values to the main points that from the backbone of the project;
  • Makes a judgment or interpretation; and
  • Steps:
  • Read over research
  • Identify common ideas, thoughts or images.
  • Develop a thesis statement that can be supported by all texts reads.
  • Use at least one piece of information from each source on the project to support the thesis.
  • Writing Your Process Paper
    Each project (except papers) must include a process paper as outline in the Contest Rulebook. The process paper must describe:

  • How the topic was selected
  • How the research was conducted
  • How the project was created
  • How the topic related to the annual theme
  • Annotated Bibliography

    Annotated bibliographies are required for all projects. They must be divided into primary and secondary sources. Look at some sample annotated bibliographies or read about them in the Contest Rulebook

    Choosing a Type of Project

    Selecting a project type can depend on the topic or your personal interests.

    Are you dramatic? Do you love getting into character, building sets, making costumes? Do you have a topic that lends itself to scenes and dramatic portrayals? Then a performance is a great choice!

    Does your topic have lots of images, video clips and/or interviews associated with it? Do you enjoy filming and creating video? Then try a documentary!

    Do you love technology and design? Are you a web guru? Can your topic be illustrated with text, graphics and video? A website may be the way to go!

    Do you enjoy creating a visual story? Are you artistic? Is your topic better presented through still images and text? Try out an exhibit!

    Do you enjoy writing? Are you a born author or journalist? Will your topic work best as a narrative? Sounds like you're a paper writer!

    Thank you for your interest in the Ohio Historical Society!

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