The History of National History Day

History of National History Day

National History Day (NHD) originated as a small, local contest in Cleveland, Ohio in 1974, when Dr. David Van Tassel and members of the Department of History at Case Western Reserve University created a program to help reinvigorate the teaching and learning of history in elementary and secondary schools. The program quickly expanded throughout Ohio and into surrounding Midwestern states before becoming a national program in 1980. With initial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, NHD expanded during the 1980s and 1990s. Now, 2 million people are engaged annually from nearly every state in the union. While the competition itself remains the core of the program, NHD has expanded its services to provide workshops, seminars, and curriculum materials for teachers and summer internships for students.

Now based in the Washington, DC area, the NHD organization is supported by volunteers across the country, including those who coordinate its state and local programs. Thousands support the program by serving as contest judges, workshop presenters, mentors, and advisers to students and teachers. Hundreds, based at colleges and universities, historical agencies, and educational organizations, serve as state and district coordinators who direct History Day programs in their areas.