National History Day
Special Prizes for Maritime Projects
National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded year-long educational program for middle- and high-school students that involves them in a competition to prepare a history project on a designated theme, culminating in state and national competitions.
Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries—either individually or in groups.
National Maritime Historical Society offers special prizes for maritime-related projects
In order to encourage the study of our maritime history, the National Maritime Historical Society offers special prizes for maritime-related projects in 24 states - Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. Don’t see your state listed here? Let us know you’d like your contest to be considered for next year!
Prizes for 1st Place
One each for middle and high school divisions: include a $100 cash scholarship (divided equally for group projects), a one-year membership in NMHS (which includes Sea History magazine), recognition on the NMHS website, and a certificate of achievement. The mentoring teacher also receives a one-year membership in NMHS and recognition on the NMHS website.
Prizes for 2nd Place
One each for middle and high school divisions: include a $50 cash scholarship (divided equally for group projects), a one-year membership in NMHS (which includes Sea History magazine), recognition on the NMHS website and a certificate of achievement. The mentoring teacher will also receive a one-year membership in NMHS and recognition on the NMHS website.
The theme for 2020 is “Breaking Barriers in History”
2020 will be an exciting year for National History Day participants, with an abundance of maritime topics that fall nicely within this year's theme of Breaking Barriers in History! The general National History Day guidelines remind us that “barriers can be physical, natural, or ideological”—and they can be an obstacle to overcome, like the Berlin Wall, or they can be protective, like a sea wall. We reached out to our NMHS community and asked them to recommend potential maritime topics; here they are below:
- Barriers keeping women out of certain jobs (shipbuilding and military in WWII, pioneer women in general, women pirates, and women who broke maritime barriers, like these five trailblazers of WWII)
- Barriers to black people in society (black sailors, black naval officers, black divers)
- Physical limitations keeping us from diving too deep (scuba gear, specialized diving technology that allows us to dive deeper, ultra-diving equipment that allowed us into the Mariana Trench)
- Canals, like the Erie and Cape Cod, that allowed for the passage of boats and enabled trade, travel and migration but also created barriers on land
- Water as barrier and impact on human geography, such as the waters around Pitcairn Island which make it very difficult to access (you have to get into smaller boats and ride rough waters to get to the shore), which is why the Bounty mutineers sought shelter there. It’s also kept the island remote and why ships like Picton Castle bring them supplies.
- Sea walls and the debates surrounding their construction and use, such as after the Galveston hurricane of 1900
- Forts as barriers, such as the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, including the results of the failure of the bombardment, compared with what might have resulted if it had succeeded
- Naval blockades, such as the Royal Navy's blockade against the French during the Napoleonic Wars, preventing any "Grand Invasion" of England; the North's blockade of the South during the US Civil War; Allied blockades of Germany during World Wars I & II; and the Allied blockade of Japan during WWII, especially in regard to its success in cutting off oil.
- Naval warfare line-of-battle tactics during the Age of Sail, and the subsequent development of the tactic of breaking that line - for example, Rodney at the Battle of the Saints in 1782, and Lord Nelson at Trafalgar.
Please see the 2020 NHD Theme Book for more information.
Are you planning a project around a maritime topic and want to be considered for an award? Let us know! >>