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National History Day Competition

Finger Lakes Regional – National History Day Ontario, Wayne, Seneca, Yates and Cayuga Counties • Email:

What is National History Day?

National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.

Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Our Winners

Congratulations to 2019 Winners! Congratulations to 2018 Winners!


History Day and Student Success

In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, NHD also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:

•   Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

•   Research and reading skills

•   Oral and written communication and presentation skills

•   Self-esteem and confidence

•   A sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

More than 5 million students have gone on to careers in business, law, medicine and countless other disciplines where they are putting into practice what they learned through NHD. (Taken from


What we do here at the Ontario County Historical Society

naplesboysThe Ontario County Historical Society is the Finger Lakes regional coordinator for National History Day, a primary document based research process that results in a final project. National History Day is a competition for junior and senior high school students. Students begin research in the fall, produce a project, and then enter spring competitions to advance from regional to state to national level History Day events.

For more information on National History Day or to become involved as a teacher, student, or volunteer, contact the Ontario County Historical Society’s Museum Educator, Preston Pierce by phone at (585) 394-4975. You can also learn more about regional, state, and national History Day competitions by clicking on the links to the State and National webpages below. The Finger Lakes Region encompasses Ontario, Wayne, Seneca Yates and Cayuga Counties.  We invite your school to participate.


Common Core and History Day Program

“My focus as a classroom teacher is how do to structure a research and literary unit around the CCSS while incorporating the standards for NHD. The good news is that NHD meets or exceeds most CCSS for New York State. It is a perfect match for the close reading and critical thinking skills that are currently required for all secondary teachers. So any teachers that want to begin NHD at their schools will be in a win-win situation regarding the CCSS initiatives from the state.”
– Darlene Cowles, Teacher at Victor Central Schools

National History Day Links

The Ontario County Historical Society would like to thank the many teachers, students, volunteers, donors, and sponsors that help to make the NHD event successful as well as the Canandaigua United Church for co-hosting the competitions.