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National History Day, NHD | Wisconsin Historical Society

National History Day - Volunteers

  • National History Day would not be possible without volunteers. Hundreds of people volunteer every year to create a strong educational experience for our students.

 

NHD contests take place around the state from February to April. Volunteer registration opens in November.

WHY VOLUNTEER?

Do you like history? Do you enjoy working with kids? National History Day in Wisconsin is gearing up for a fantastic virtual contest season, but we can’t do it without your help! We are looking for judges with diverse professional experiences, different background knowledge, and a passion for history to give students the best feedback.

Each year through National History Day, thousands of middle and high school students present their work at contests. Students select and research a topic connected to a yearly theme. They then create an exhibit, documentary, research paper, website, or performance.

Judges view between five and eight projects online. An evaluation form is provided prompting judges to look for balanced research, context, and an argument. The excitement and energy of these young history lovers reaffirms our own passion for the past. Contact us to learn more!

What Our Volunteers Do

  • Volunteers from around the state review students' history-themed projects.
  • Volunteers read the students' research and view their projects, giving thoughtful feedback.
  • About a week before the contest, you will log in and review the student's process paper and bibliography. At the contest, you will view the project itself and chat with the student for a few minutes about their project. Then you and your judging team will choose which projects to advance to the next level and provide written comments on how they can improve.

Who Are Volunteers Are

  • Our volunteers come from all background all over the state.
  • No experience with history is required!
  • We will provide all the training you need. We offer virtual training webinars in addition to the morning orientation at the contest.

 Judging Tips

  • No one is an expert on all of the topics you will see.
  • Focus on the thesis statement, support of that thesis statement and their research.
    • What is a thesis statement? A couple of sentences and argument on what the project is about. A strong thesis is a roadmap for the project. Everything included in the project should support what is said in the thesis.
    • Analyze the bibliography by looking for primary sources that are not just newspapers and secondary sources that are not just websites. Balanced research also means they tried to find sources looking at the subject from various perspectives.
  • Look for the effort. This will not be and is not meant to be the most comprehensive work on the subject.
  • Take your time. We know you juggle a lot of responsibilities but make sure to give the student the kind of written feedback you would like on your work. Without written comments, our students don’t know what they did well or what they could improve.

Top 5 things you need to know for judging

Exhibits

  • Glitz and glamour make up 0% of judging.
  • Does the theme stand out to you? Make sure it does!
  • Can you easily identify the thesis, evidence, and significance in history?
  • Does each visual/image/photo include the required credit?
  • Watch for word count—no more than 500!

Website

  • Is there a solid connection to the theme? There should be!
  • Does the thesis support the evidence and vice versa?
  • Watch out for word count—no more than 1,200 words.
  • Does the student give credit for each visual?
  • No links out to external websites, such as an archives or a museum. No more than 4 minutes of embedded media (songs, film clips).

Documentary

  • Can you spot the theme throughout the presentation?
  • Does the evidence support the thesis?
  • Be sure the project goes beyond explaining facts, listen for historical analysis.
  • The quality of the technology is not important, focus on the research!
  • Is there a conclusion, followed by required (brief) credits?

Performance

  • Does the theme stand out to you? It should!
  • Can you find the thesis, does it hold up?
  • Listen for historical analysis, not scriptwriting.
  • Pay attention to the research student(s) incorporate.
  • Props and acting experience are not requirements for a winning performance!

Papers

  • Does the theme stand out to you?
  • Does the thesis hold throughout the paper?
  • Keep an eye out for citations.
  • Word count must be between 1,500 - 2,500.
  • Does the student communicate their argument well?

Have Questions?

Get information and advice from our helpful staff! Get answers to commonly asked questions about National History Day in Wisconsin.

Frequently Asked Questions