WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Saturday, June 19, National History Day® (NHD) presented the awards for the 2021 NHD National Contest in a livestreamed ceremony. More than a half-million middle and high school students entered the competition in late 2020. Just over 2,600 of them successfully advanced through the local and state/affiliate rounds during another challenging school year disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic to earn their place in the NHD National Contest, which took place virtually for the second year in a row.

Through documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and websites, students presented research projects addressing topics related to the 2021 NHD theme, Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.

“National History Day students impress me year after year,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn, “and our second consecutive virtual national contest provided another challenge for this year’s students to meet and overcome. NHD students and teachers have once again shown they have the fortitude to address whatever they face. These experiences and memories will serve them well as they progress through their academic and professional careers, and I congratulate all of this year’s National History Day participants.” At the conclusion of Saturday’s awards ceremony, Dr. Gorn announced the 2022 National History Day theme, Debate and Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.

More than 400 historians and education professionals served as judges for the students’ work. As with all other aspects of the contest this year, the judging was conducted remotely online. More than 100 students from across the country will receive cash prizes between $500 and $2,000, each, for superior work in specific judging categories.

Numerous awards are granted to students, including the following:
• First-place entries in the Junior and Senior divisions’ five categories of documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, and website are given the title, “National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Scholar” and receive a $1,000 award sponsored by NEH.
• Second and third-place entries in all categories receive $500 and $250, respectively.
• Two entries from each NHD state/affiliate receive an “Outstanding Affiliate Entry” award sponsored by the National Park Service.
• First, second, and third-place entries in the Junior and Senior individual documentary categories also receive The Next Generation Angels Awards from The Better Angels Society. The first-place senior winner is given the Anne Harrington Award, named for the late longtime friend and colleague of filmmaker Ken Burns.
• Two dozen special awards are presented for topics ranging from African American History to World War II. Sponsored by organizations from around the country, they are presented to outstanding entries in any category and range in value from $250 to $10,000.

Here are the winners of the 2021 National History Day National Contest:

About National History Day® (NHD)

NHD is a nonprofit organization based in College Park, Maryland, that seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Crown Family Foundation, The Better Angels Society, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, and the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation. Visit nhd.org for more information.

June 22, 2021 •

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