Read the Rules
Before you begin work on an entry for competition, you, your teacher, and your parents should carefully read the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish). Contact the state coordinator to learn if any rules have been revised since the publication of this rule book, and for more information on topics, sources, and deadlines.
Understand the Theme
Each year your research must connect to the annual National History Day theme. Themes for each contest year are chosen to be broad enough to encourage investigation of topics ranging from local history to world history, and from ancient time to the recent past. To understand the historical importance of your topic you need to ask questions about time, place and context, cause and effect, change over time, and impact and significance. You must consider not only when and where events happened, but also why they occurred and what factors contributed to their development.
Choose a Topic
Topics for research are everywhere! Think about a time in history or individuals or events that are interesting to you.
- Read books, newspapers or other sources of information and add to your list.
- Talk with relatives, neighbors, or people you know who have lived through a particular time in history that interests you and add more ideas.
- Keep thinking, reading and talking to people until you have many ideas that are interesting.
- View the list of topics related to Iowa history if you are interested in exploring a local topic.
Now go back through the list and circle the ideas that connect with the theme. From the ideas that you circled, select one to begin your research. Keep your list because you might need it again. Selecting a National History Day Contest topic is a process of gradually narrowing down the area of history (period or event) that interests you to a manageable subject.