National History Day

Education is at the center of LancasterHistory’s mission and we are delighted to help students of all ages engage in historical research. National History Day offers students a special opportunity to do historical research in a museum like LancasterHistory. LancasterHistory’s historic collections contain more than 2 million primary source documents, thousands of scholarly books and materials, 3-Dimensional objects. We also have a professional staff with years of experience in historical research.

What Is National History Day?

National History Day logo.

National History Day is an academic competition focusing on history for students in grades 6-12. Students construct entries as an individual or in a group in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Students then compete in a series of contests – school, local, and regional/state – to proceed to the national contest held each June at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The mission of National History Day is to provide students with opportunities to learn historical content and develop research, thinking, and communication skills through the study of history and to provide educators with resources and training to enhance classroom teaching.

2023 – 2024 Theme for National History Day

The National History Day (NHD) theme for the 2023 – 2024 school year is Turning Points in History.

Please contact the Pennsylvania NHD Program Coordinator, Jeffrey G. Hawks, at (717) 258-1102 or for local, regional, and national contest dates, submission deadlines, materials, and any updates or revisions to the NHD Rule Book

To read more about this year’s theme, we encourage students and teachers to view the 2024 Contest Theme Book on the National History Day website. With the prevalence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), National History Day has created a helpful tip sheet on how students can use AI responsibly with their projects.

For more resources, such as the National History Day Rule Book, theme organizers, or other project resources, please visit the National History Day website.

How To Get Involved

For Students

We’re so excited that you’re interested in becoming involved in National History Day! Before getting started, we encourage students and their parents, guardians, or teachers, to contact the Pennsylvania NHD Program Coordinator, Jeffrey G. Hawks, at (717) 258-1102 or for local, regional, and national contest dates, submission deadlines, materials, and any updates or revisions to the NHD Rule Book.

Ready to get started? Visit the NHD website for rules and more information on getting started on your NHD project! There are also plenty of other resources such as a theme graphic organizer, webinars (and webinar recordings), and other guides on how to create a strong NHD project.

For Teachers

National History Day has prepared a wide array of information and educational tools to help you help your students and implement National History Day in your classroom. We encourage you to visit NHD’s website for information on the contest and view teacher resources. (New to NHD? There are resources there for you too!)

How Can LancasterHistory Help with History Day Projects?

LancasterHistory exists to engage and educate the public about the people, places, and events that shaped Lancaster County within the broader context of the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America. We house over 16,000 books, 2 million manuscripts and documents, 95,000 historic photographs, and a large historic artifact and decorative arts collection of three-dimensional objects related the history of Lancaster County and important historical figures such as President James Buchanan and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, to name a few.

Online Resources & Project Ideas

Students can visit the Research Center’s homepage to get a sense of what LancasterHistory’s collection includes, and how it is organized. They can also search our Collections Database online to see what materials are available.

Visiting LancasterHistory’s Research Center

  • In Person: At this time, our Research Center is open Tuesdays – Saturdays from 9:30am – 2pm. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged. If you wish to visit the Research Center in person, appointments can be made online or by calling (717) 392-4633 for a day/timeslot of your choice. Students under 16 years of age should bring a parent, guardian, or trusted adult with them. Both the student and adult must have tickets to the Research Center to be admitted.
  • Virtual Assistance: Students who are unable to visit our Research Center in person may request assistance remotely by calling (717) 392-4633, ext. 126 or emailing

Requesting Photocopies & Appointments

If you wish to make an appointment to view historic objects or documents up-close (we allow you to take free pictures of resources) during your appointment on site, please contact If you wish to have a PDF scan of specific primary source documents from our archival collection or a digital image of a historic photograph, please contact


LancasterHistory is pleased to offer awards for the best projects in any category covering topics related to the history of Lancaster County. Projects will be judged by LancasterHistory staff according to the official NHD judging criteria. Once completed, students will also be invited to display their projects on site at LancasterHistory. 

  • 1st Place: $60 and a 1-year Membership at LancasterHistory for each team member.
  • 2nd Place: $40 and a 1-year Membership at LancasterHistory for each team member.
  • 3rd Place: $20 and a 1-year Membership at LancasterHistory for each team member.

For projects on local history, we also offer grants to help participants from Pennsylvania’s Region 9 with the purchase of materials or the cost of entry to regional, state, and national competitions. For more information or to submit a project for award consideration, contact Mabel Rosenheck, Director of Education, at or 717.392.4633, ext. 137.