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Do you have questions about the rules for the National History Day contest? We are here to answer them!



Feel free to have a look at the NHD Rule Book, available hereYou may also want to review the NHD theme page, available here.


Does an interview in text form count as words on a website? I interviewed my aunt who gave the answers. She went to china and adopted and witnessed this... our topic is China's One Child Policy so would she be primary?
 
If your aunt was a primary source (a witness to the event) then quotes from her interview would be primary and not count toward the word limit. I would suggest not including the entire transcript of the interview, but choose the best quotes and use those.  If she's talking about her experience regarding adoption in China, then yes, she can be primary.
 
 
Do you need to cite every image in a documentary?
 
In your annotated bibliography for your documentary you will need to cite all images you use. If they are part of the same image collection however, you can cite them together. Consult your style guide (MLA or Turabian) for details on how to do that.
 
 
Are we being graded for the website on the design...because my website has a white background.
 
Websites are visual projects. There is no rule for having / not having a colored background, but you should work to make the website visually appealing to the reader. Would you want to read a website that was just paragraphs of black text on a white background?
 
 
With our performance projects, can we have props?
 
Yes, in the performance category, props are part of your project. Just remember that sometimes, simple is better.
 
 
Can Rosa Parks be our play subject?
 
Rosa Parks could certainly be a subject of your performance. However, you will want to think carefully about how she and her story fit into the theme, Rights and Responsibilities in History. You want to make sure that your topic relates well to the NHD theme.
 
 
What is the limit of time we are going to have to do the performance?
 
Time limits and other category rules can be found in the NHD Rule Book, on our website: http://www.nhd.org/images/uploads/RuleBook14.pdf.
 
 
Are you considering having documentaries being uploaded to a website instead of bringing files to the contests? There are always problems. It would be so much easier to just stream them.
 
We are considering documentaries be uploaded to a web based system in coming contests but this year's contest we do not have an upload system in place.
 
 
I have been telling my students that five sources (primary and secondary) are a good start to a paper. Do the judges like to see a specific number and would it be better to have more primary or secondary?
 
There is no magic number of sources. That's where you as the teacher come in. The requirements for a sixth grade teacher should be different from an 11th grade honors teacher. Also, some students will have more, smaller sources while others will have fewer, better sources. A general rule is quality over quantity.
 
 
I thought projects had to be about topics at least 25 years old. There was a winning project on 9/11.
 
There is no official rule as to "how old" a project needs to be. However, it does need to be historical and not a current event. Enough time must have passed for historians to evaluate the event, so that we can understand the historical significance.
 
 
Several of my students have mutiple images they'd like to use from the same source (for instance, a page of political cartoons). Despite using multiple cartoons, they are still citing the source only once, correct?
 
If images are part of the same collection, you can cite them together in your annotated bibliography. I always suggest consulting whichever style guide you are using (MLA or Turabian) for details on how to do that.
 
 
Are you allowed to do a topic that is happening now, but started in say the early 1900's? Say the China's One Child Policy?
 
Yes, that is an acceptable topic. Every project needs to determine their time frame, and it's always good to make connections to today.
 
 
One of my students wants to do a project on how the polices of U.S Slavery still affects us today, is that okay?
 
US slavery is a huge and broad topic. I would suggest that they focus on a particular aspect of slavery (maybe slave codes or religion) to make the topic more manageable.
 
 
I am making a website on Rights and Responsibilities of Militiamen during the American Revolution. Is the minimum time a video can last really 45 seconds or can I have it be the full 1:35 because it is a really good clip? Would I get penalized by much if I kept the 1:35 clip?
 
No, 45 seconds is the limit. Judges always consider rules infractions (over time limits, word limits) when they are ranking. In my experience judging, when there were two projects that were close, and one had rules violation(s), they tended not to move on to the next level of the contest. I would hate for that to happen to your project - focus on what's most important about the video.
 
 
In the NHD rulebook it says that multimedia clips can only be 45 seconds long (Section III, Rule E4). Does this include audio clips (such as parts of speeches, songs, etc.) or just video clips?
 
Yes, that includes audio clips and video clips. 
 
 
Do we have to have our annotated bibliography and process paper downloaded as a pdf file for a website?
 
There is no rule about annotated bibs or process papers needing to be PDFs but they do work extremely well on a website. The text can be posted on a page or uploaded as a PDF.
 
 
Could I split a video up into 45 second clips instead of one long video?
 
While technically you could split up the whole video into 45 second clips, that probably would not be a wise choice. You want to focus only on the parts of the video that really relate to your thesis. Having too many random video clips can be confusing.
 
 
If you interview someone 20 years after the fact who participated in an event is it a primary source?
 
Yes, that person would be a primary source.
 
 
What about old newspaper articles? The reporter may not have been an eye-witness.
 
If they are contemporary to the time (ie, written just after) and include specific evidence / quotes from witnesses, they count as primary. However, newspaper articles written after (such as the 50th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address) would be secondary.
 
 
If I found a quote on a quote website and how would I cite it. This quote was not made by the author of the website but like Thomas Jefferson would I cite this as a website and if so would it only count as one source if I used 2 quotes?
 
I would encourage you to find the original source of the quotes - go directly to Jefferson's writings. You have no proof that a quote website is accurate, and when you go to the original source, you often find other good quotes and ideas to help you.
 
 
If i found a map on a website and it was made by the website would i cite the website?
 
If the map was in fact create by the website where you viewed it, then yes, you would cite that website. However, you want to make sure that is the original source of that map.
 
 
Am I allowed to make a chart on Excel for my website to show some statistics or is that not allowed?
 
Sure, you can use Excel to show a point!
 
 
In the question about multimedia being no more than 45 seconds long, which category is that referring to?
 
That is the limit for multimedia in websites.
 
 
If a student is designing an exhibit, does it have to be set on a table? I have a group who wants to make their exhibit like a jail cell that people can walk through and would like to know if it can sit on the ground, as long as it meets the size requirements.
 
No, an Exhibit entry does not have to sit on a table; it can be placed on the floor. However, you must adhere to all size requirements. You may also want to contact your contest coordinator to ask them if there is floor space available.
 
 
For Documentary, an original audio clip has some profanity. Should I use it?
 
Consider your audience. While a lot of good historical material does contain profane language - I would ask two questions:
1. What purpose does this serve? 
2. Do I need it? If you really need it, then I am going to encourage you to bleep out the profanity.
Also, check with your school - most schools have rules on showing that type of content in school (it's usually not allowed).
 
 
Do students doing a group or individual performance need a written thesis statement? I do not see that they do in the rule book, but I am just double-checking in case there has been a change.
 
No, Performance entries do not need a written thesis statement, but should keep their thesis in mind when creating the script for their performance. Performance entries do need a process paper and annotated bibliography.
 
 
Is there a minimum or max of sources we can use?
 
There is no minimum / maximum on sources - it's what you need to complete your project. Check with your teacher for his/her requirements if you're earning a grade on the project.
 
 
If i would like to include a song or two in my documentary, that are written specifically about my topic, would that be a good idea?
 
Yes, music and songs are allowed in your documentary. Using music from your topic's time period is often very effective. However, you cannot have someone create a song specifically for your project.
 
 
Is there a word limit for documentaries?
 
Documentaries have a 10 minute limit, but not a word count limit.
 
 
How many words do annotations need to be?
 
A good annotation should tell a judge what type of source it is (book, letter, video), what is contains, and HOW you used it in your final product. No min / max, but be succinct and to the point. Most are 2-4 sentences.
 
 
Is there a specific software we must use for documentaries?
 
You can use any software to create a documentary. The biggest software programs I've seen used include Final Cut, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere, or WeVideo.com
 
 
How long should our process paper be?
 
A process paper has a maximum of 500 words. For rules on the process paper and annotated bibliography, have a look at the NHD Rule Book on page 10: http://www.nhd.org/images/uploads/RuleBook14.pdf.
 
 
Is there any place I can find sample documentaries?
 
To see student samples from the 2013 contest (of all five project types) go to: http://www.nhd.org/StudentProjectExamples.htm.
 
 
Is the topic "vietnam war protests" too broad?
 
Vietnam war protests were a big issue straddling almost 20 years at the extreme. I would encourage you to do some research and focus on some aspects of the topic.
 
 
Other than a DVD and a flash drive, do you have other suggestions that would prevent this from occurring again?
 
Unfortunately sometimes technical glitches do happen, and contest coordinators do their best to fix the problems quickly. Different contests have different equipment and venue set up however, so you probably want to contact your NHD state coordinator. NHD is however looking into an online system for uploading documentary entries in future years.
 
 
Should my documentary be in hd or standard?
 
HD versus SD is really a personal choice. Just keep in mind your projects is about historical research so don't get caught up in your video quality. As long as it plays properly through a flash drive/CD or DVD you can select quality.
 
 
I am a competition coordinator: We have had a problem with siblings in different divisions and categories "sharing" research. We have emphasized the requirement for Individual work, but would the recommendation then be to disqualify both?
 
The rules book clearly states (Section II, Rule 2) that students may not "create a common pool of research from which several entries are created". I would suggest speaking to the students and the parent in advance of the next year's contest.
 
 
I am a competition coordinator and my biggest problem is team members changing all the time or dropping out at the last minute. How would you handle that? I am conflicted when it is a team of two people and one drops out. Should I let them continue as an individual?
 
Once a group entry is entered into the contest, they should not be adding/replacing members. You might also want to consult with your state coordination - he/she might have a good protocol recomendation
 
 
When writing a paper, is it better to make it long and wordy or straight to the point? I have looked at many examples and they vary in length so I'm not sure.
 
I think it is ALWAYS better to get to the point - it gives you more time (or words) to use more historical examples and include better analysis