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National History Day
Transcript of National History Day
A Guide to Historical Research
Researching in a General Sense
"Researching is simple when you think about it in this manner: learn about your topic, think about your topic, and then share what you've learned with others." - Lori Bychinski, 8th grade English teacher
Process Paper and Annotated Bibliography
Working in Groups
Selecting a Topic
Ready, Set, Research!
Primary vs. Secondary Sources
Everyday Sources: Grandma's Attic
What is History?
History is everyone's stories.
* how they lived
* what they valued
* what resources, including technologies,
* how things changed
* how some patterns continue
Historians study topics like:
* the history of family life
* the impact of the invention of the
* development of ancient empires
* interactions of nations in the
To understand history, you need to:
* familiarize yourself with the wisdom
* understand some basic patterns and
developments of history, especially
the time period you are studying
From that understanding, this NHD
* encourage you to follow your
* ask your own questions
* research and interpret one piece
of the past as it is connected
to the "bigger picture"
What is research?
Researching is following
your natural curiosity.
It simply means searching
for information to
about a topic.
You already know something
You do it all the time!
Elective courses, colleges,
cars, best laptop, best outfit,
learning about your favorite band
or sport, asking questions about
Extensive research projects
can be done step-by-step
Research involves breaking tasks down into smaller
steps and taking them one at a time. This is a process
or procedure that you will follow the rest of your life.
Research can be broken into three parts:
LEARNING about a topic, THINKING about a topic,
and SHARING about a topic.
Take a Stand: A History Day project in NOT a report!
You will take a stand, draw conclusions, make comparisons, and show connections. You will analyze information, not just collect it.You will ask questions about a topic YOU find interesting and develop YOUR conclusions.
Eight Steps to Historical Research
Getting Organized for Research
Selecting a Topic
Background Reading for Historical Context
Narrowing Your Topic
Gathering and Recording Information
Analyzing and Interpreting Sources
Developing a Thesis
Developing, Improving, and Finalizing a History Day Project
Five keys to success for your research project begin with getting organized to begin your research.
First key to success: Develop and maintain a positive attitude.
From the beginning, approach the assignment with a positive attitude. Take the role of an investigator and get into the part. You will be more successful if you have a positive attitude.
Second key to success: Discover "human resources"
People in the community
People in the school
Third key to success: Develop a paperwork management system
During the process of your research, you will receive many handouts, printouts, and materials. Be organized! Select a system to hold and arrange all your materials. Label everything, and make sure to use it correctly.
Fourth key to success: Decide carefully about
working as an individual or in a group.
This is an EXTREMELY important decision!
It is one that could hurt you or help you.
The fifth key to success: Choose the right History Day category
Use your strengths (art, writing, drama, and other skills) as a way to share your knowledge in your History Day research project.
Knowing early in the process which of the five options is most appealing to you will help you in choosing a topic and guiding your research.
Can I Choose
Any Topic To
How Do I
Select a general topic
and a narrowed focus
that fits a broad theme.
There are three tips to keep in mind when selecting topic.
Be sure the topic...
* is interesting to you. (You must be passionate about it!)
* fits the theme well.
* is sufficiently narrow in focus.
Interest: You will be spending weeks, possibly months involved with this topic. Ask yourself, "
Am I really interested in this topic? Do I want to learn more about it? Do I have questions about this topic that I might be able to answer through research?
Be sure your topic is a good fit with the National History Day theme "Leadership and Legacy."
Make sure your topic is manageable.
For a topic to manageable,
it must be
most research topics
begin with big questions
about big topics.
As you begin gathering
your topic, you will
find that it becomes
easier to narrow the focus.
Don't choose a very recent topic.
Recent topics make it
difficult to distinguish primary source material
, and it is often limited. It is also
hard to analyze the event historically
, because it isn't "finished yet." This means the the
impact and significance is difficult to determine.
YEARS OR OLDER?
Don't choose a topic that is too complex.
Source materials on complex, technical topics can be difficult to comprehend
because many of them are written at a high reading level. At the same time,
don't shy away from a technical topic that really interests you
. You don't have to understand every little detail of a technical topic to do a fine job explaining its relationship to the theme and its impact on history.
Research and Sources:
It is now time to do research and locate sources of information. A source is any provider of information used to interpret a topic.Your job as a researcher is to seek, locate, and find information from a variety of sources to help you see the "big picture" and tell a historic story.
Books and articles: The first to study
You need information from history books, articles, encyclopedias, and dictionaries to help you learn about the historical period in which your topic took place and the issues of the time.
Why not start with the internet?
The internet has a great deal of information, but it also has a great deal of misinformation. People can post ANYTHING on the internet. Sources reviewed by historians and experts provide more reliable information.
Beginning research requirements
After completing your background reading, you should be able to narrow your topic to something manageable to study, and you will have a better idea of how your topic fits in the big picture. Complete the 'Final Topic Selection" sheet. You will need to:
* state your research questions
* see how your topic connects to the theme
* give your working title
Before you begin...
* Write it down, now! Collect critical information from your source before you return it or start taking notes.
* Use your source sheet to help you record the appropriate details. It will help you put your bibliography together more smoothly later on.
* Put all this information in your paperwork management system.
Tips for Background Reading and
Narrowing Your Topic
* Find a few general articles about your topic that are easy to understand.
* Use your background reading to understand historical context
~ What similarities does my topic have to the time period?
~ Is the issue I am studying confined to one time period?
~ How does my topic connect to what I have learned in my
~ What other issues of the time might affect my topic?
* Use your background reading to finalize your choice. If you change your mind about your topic, now is the time to do it!
* Pay attention to chapter and subheadings in history books. Look at subtopics under broad categories to help you narrow your topic.
* Look for recurring themes and topics. This will also help you narrow your topic.
Be sure to ask not only the questions you are curious about, but also the questions a good historian would ask:
* When did my topic (person, event, idea, or issue) occur in history? What dates are important?
* Where did my topic (person, event, idea, or issue) occur? what places are important?
* What causes led up to my topic (person, event, idea, or issue)?
* How does my topic (even if it is a local topic) fit into broader context of what was happening in history at the time?
* What effects did my topic (person, event, idea, or issue) have at the time and for the future?
* How did the issues surrounding my topic (person, event, idea, or issue) change over time?
* What impact or influence did my topic (person, event, idea, or issue) have on the nation or the world?
* Why is my topic (person, event, idea, or issue) significant today?
"To understand the historical importance of their topics, students must ask questions of time and place, cause and effect, change over time, and impact and significance. They must ask not only when event happened but also why they happened and what impact they had."
Connect your topic to the
National History Day theme
Developing a statement about the connection between your topic and the theme can help you be certain that your topic will work with the theme.
Developing a Working Title
Your working title should cleverly include both the overall topic and the specific issue of your work. It should also reflect the researcher's point of view on the topic.
Planning Time: Get together with your partner or work by yourself and look over the list of topics you researched in World History or looked at when doing your NHD web search. Pick a topic that your group agrees on and a category that you would like to do. Complete the Preliminary Topic Selection Sheet and History Day Contract.
Finding Information to
Glance over bold-faced words or headings in books
Skim by reading the topic sentences of paragraphs
* Use Indexes
* Look Up Unfamiliar Words
* Ask for Assistance from an adult.
The following are the basic details you should get from each source:
* place of publication
* type of source
* page number
* location of collection
In some cases, vital information will be missing. This source is slightly less reliable because it lacks some vital information.
Rewrite the main idea, detail, or piece of information in your own words.
Copy exactly what is written the way it is written. Place quotation marks around it.
Only quoting some of the wording of a source or leaving out part of a sentence.
Rewrite the main idea or piece of information using your own words, shortening significantly the quantity of words.
Remember: Cite Your Sources!! Write complete citations on your note cards and include them in your bibliography.
Written documents: diaries, letters, books, articles, certificates, journals
Artifacts: physical remains, maps, photographs, art, tools, furniture (objects from everyday life that have historical significance)
Recordings: video, film, audio recordings
Personal interviews: in-person discussions, discussions over the phone, or via e-mail
A piece of information about a historical event or period in which the creator of the source was an actual participant in that historical moment. They provide a first-hand account.
A primary source can be an object, place, song, or other cultural artifact during a historical period you are studying.
A source not created first-hand by someone who participated in the historical era. Secondary sources are usually created by historians, but based on the historian's reading of primary sources.
Primary sources are "pure" because they are
unaltered by the filter of time.
Primary sources can be biased. They reflect the opinions and perspectives of people living at that time.
Primary sources may not provide all the answers. They provide a limited perspective.
* often lead researchers to other valuable sources
* help the researcher compare or contrast the historical figure/
event with others
* help the researcher see the "big picture"
Examples of Primary Sources:
* Government records (like birth and death certificates, licenses)
* bill of sale of land or livestock
* physical remains
* photographs of WWI
* interviews with participants of an event
* manuscript collections (letters, presidential papers)
* letters and music written at the time of your topic
* household technology from an earlier era
Secondary Source Examples:
* interviews with experts/scholars
* copy of a painting with a narrative text
* newspaper or magazine articles written about things that
happened in the past
* school history textbook
* media documentaries about a historic event
Make sure you are setting small mini-goals each day.
Example: Today I am going to find one source and take
notes over it.
Make sure you are staying in contact with your
partner (if you have one).
Make sure you are staying on top of the weekly goals
Mrs. Ramer has for you. You won't get so overwhelmed