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2021 National History Day Theme

Theme: Communication in History: The Key To Understanding

Each year NHD frames students' research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for its broad application to world, national or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. The theme for 2021 is Communication in History: The Key To Understanding. The theme provides a focused way to increase  students' historical understanding and an opportunity to develop perspective and understanding rather than merely being able to cite facts and figures.​


Each year NHD establishes an annual theme. Students may begin to work on projects as soon as the NHD finals competition ends in mid-June. The theme is purposely broad so that nearly any topic will work. To learn more about this year's theme, go to Theme Sheet.

Once you have an understanding of the theme, your next step in the NHD process is to choose a topic. Student entries may address any local, state, national, international or global topic of interest that connects to the theme. You will be working on this project for many months so make sure you select a topic that interests you. The topic should be narrow and researchable. A topic such as exploration is far too large. Instead, you should choose an aspect of exploration, for example, Columbus's Triumph & Tragedy exploring new lands.​

Remember - topics and projects should be appropriate for fellow students (even young ones) and parents to view. The list on the NHD-CA website provides Topic Ideas.

​NHD also offers a list of topic possibilities as part of its NHD Theme Book.​

To learn about this years NHD theme, please click on the links below to download the helpful resources:

Contest registration is $60 per student

​Online Registration
​Contest Dates

How Many Entries Can Each School Send to NDH-OC? (New for 2021)​​

The number of entries per school that can advance to the NHD-OC competition are:

  1. Elementary Division (grades 4-5) may send up to two (2) entries for each of the two categories.
  2. Junior Division (grades 6-8) may send up to
    • ​Two (2) entries in Historical Paper and Website categories.
    • Two (2) entries in: Exhibit, Documentary, and Performance categories.
  3. Senior Division (grades 9-12) may send up to
    • Two (2) entries in Historical Paper and Website categories
    • Two (2) entries in: Exhibit, Documentary, and Performance categories.

Thank you to our NHD-OC Sponsors



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For more information about the NHD-OC contest, please contact us at​