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What Is South Dakota History Day?

National History Day is not just a day, but every day! The National History Day program is a year-long education program that culminates in a national contest every June.

For more than thirty years, the National History Day program has promoted systemic educational reform related to the teaching and learning of history in America's schools. The combination of creativity and scholarship built into the NHD program anticipated current educational reforms, making National History Day a leading model of performance-based learning.

NHD is a year-long education program that engages students in grades 6-12 in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students produce dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries, websites, and research papers based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state, and national competitions.

State Competition is scheduled for Thursday, April 7, 2016, on the campus of South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. The back-up weather date is Wednesday, April 28, 2016.  The National Contest will be held at the University of Maryland at College Park.

The 2016 SD NHD program and state contest is sponsored by NorthWestern Energy, along with South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum, SDSU Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion, and South Dakota State University.

The 2015 SD NHD program and state contest is sponsored by the The Mary Chilton DAR Foundation, Sioux Valley Energy, and Codington-Clark Electric Cooperative, Inc., along with South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum, SDSU Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion, and South Dakota State University.


The 2016 NHD theme is "Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in History."

Questions about the program may be directed to State Coordinator Chris Hummel (  Check out our Facebook Page, South Dakota NHD, for additional and updated information.


Why Participate?

Many different people participate in the NHD program:

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Libraries, Museums, and Archives
  • Community Businesses

The NHD program serves as a vehicle to teach students important literacy skills and to engage them in the use and understanding of museum and library resources. The program inspires students to study local history, and then challenges them to expand their thinking and apply knowledge of local events to the national, or even worldwide scene. The program also teaches students to become technologically literate through the use of computer and Internet research methods, and the use of technologically advanced applications in their presentations.

"NHD has elements to it that cannot be found in most other educational experiences.  The idea that students can choose a topic that is interesting to them, in a category that they are comfortable with, definitely allows the students to produce the best project possible… (M)y goal has been to introduce NHD to as many schools as possible… I would like all area students to have the same great experiences that my students at Summit have had with NHD." -- Nathan Bloom, Summit, 2015 SD NHD Teacher of the Year.
"History Day enhances my classroom as no other part of the Social Studies curriculum does.  The research methods the students learn carries over for secondary and college use.  The writing skills developed during the project phase have been very beneficial to other classes for the students.  The communication and oral presentation skills gained in the HD experience have changed some students’ academic life and goals.  History comes alive in the History Day classroom with students sharing their findings with each other.  The ‘ah-ha’ moments bring excitement to the history of each project."--GeneVon Bickerdyke, Buffalo, 2015 SD NHD Teacher of the Year.

"The true benefits from participating in National History Day go way past a certificate or medal. The program teaches kids the writing, analytical understanding, and reading comprehension skills that will make them a success in life, no matter what their career," states parent Susan Moose.