Whether you have been creating NHDI projects for a while or are looking at creating your very first project, we have all the tools you need for success. We will guide you through the steps of creating a project, from learning about the annual theme, to research, to designing your project and presenting at a regional contest.
You can also take a look at some example projects from previous contest years. See what Indiana students have created in exhibits, performances, documentaries, websites and papers. Use them for inspiration, explore your interests, then begin your own project!
Each year, the National History Day offices select a theme to guide project creation. The annual theme is broad enough for you to pick a topic from any time period of place. The theme helps guide you to look for the impact and significance of your topic in history.
The 2022-2023 theme is Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas
During the 2022-2023 school year, the annual theme is Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas. Projects can cover topics that include people, places, and ideas. Projects can include multiple of these together but could also include a situation where one of the sub topics of people, places, or ideas are the only involved in your project. Regardless, you must determine whether one or multiple will be present in your topic, identify how they transpired, and identify the successes, failures, and consequences of your topic. To better understand the theme, let’s dig a little deeper and look at the definitions of frontier.
Frontier (n): the extreme limit of settled land, understanding, or achievement in a particular area. Frontier can be geographical, about a person that made a difference geographically or by developing a revolutionary invention, or idea to society, or it can be the idea itself that is a frontier of its own.
When we think of frontier, the most common image that probably comes to mind is a log cabin in the woods or of a covered wagon heading west. Keep in mind that frontiers don’t always have to be people, or places, it can also exist as an idea among groups of people and extend to different areas of life. Frontiers can develop over from new geographical locations, behind legislative policies, religion, media, land, trade relations, the rights of people, science and more. They can also bring an exchange of ideas and goods among cultures but also bring about an exchange of cultural clashes that can have long term impacts on society for future generations.
As you explore your topic and how it connects to the theme, think about what about what frontiers that you want to talk about and the places, people, and ideas that made that frontier continue to have significance up to the present day.
Don’t forget to look at topics that are at least 20 years old; you want to have a topic where there is enough time to gain some historical context. You also want to choose a topic where you can find enough information through primary and secondary sources to adequately explore your topic.
For more information regarding the annual theme, visit the NHD website and download the Annual Theme Book.
Your project starts with an idea about a topic. Remember that your topic needs to relate to the annual theme. Outside of relating to your theme and teacher approval, your topic can be any time, place or event in history. It can be local, national or world history. Is there a time period in history or a place that you have always wanted to study? Is there a subject like art, sports or music that you’re especially passionate about and can turn into a project? Do you have a favorite person in history that had an impact on communication in history? It is a good idea to pick something that you are curious or passionate about. Also, make sure your topic is researchable and that the information is out there for you to have enough sources!
For inspiration, take a look at our 2022-2023 Student Topic Guide. This guide will give you a taste of many different Indiana history topics and break down some places to start your research. If you’re set on winning a special prize, why not take a look this year’s special prizes and draw inspiration from Indiana-related topics? Also, be sure to take a look at past years’ projects to get some good ideas flowing!
Need help deciding if the topic you chose is right for a National History Day in Indiana project?
Topic Guide – Frontiers in History 2023