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Virginia Students Prepare to Compete in the 2024 History Day Contest 

Students in grades 4-12 from across the Commonwealth are preparing to compete at the annual Virginia History Day (VHD) state competition at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28.

Virginia History Day is the state affiliate of the National History Day program. Similar to a science fair, but for history, the National History Day contest was founded in 1974 to inspire students to conduct original historical research. Students select a historical topic, conduct primary and secondary source research, and then present their findings in one of five presentation categories: paper, exhibit, documentary, performance, or website.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National History Day contest, and to celebrate, this year’s NHD theme is Turning Points in History: People, Places, Ideas. This theme invites students in all categories to consider an idea, event, or action that directly, or sometimes indirectly, caused change.

After months of research and success in local and regional competitions, more than 400 students will spend the weekend at the VMHC presenting historical research projects in hopes of securing their spot at the National History Day contest in June. This year’s state competition will be the largest state contest the museum has hosted. Furthermore, this year’s local district contests saw participation from 1,200 students – a 20% increase from last year and the highest number of students ever to participate statewide.

National History Day began in 1974 in Cleveland, Ohio and was founded by Dr. David Van Tassel, a Case Western Reserve University professor with rising concerns about lagging history education. Since its creation, the contest has grown into an international competition with more than half-a-million participants and thousands of dollars in scholarship awards and prizes annually.

NHD affiliates include all 50 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and international schools in China, Korea, and other countries around the world. This vast alumni network contains notable figures from a wide range of industries, such as the famous chef and TV presenter Guy Fieri, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Pulitzer-Prize-winning musician Caroline Shaw, MSNBC host Alex Wagner, Washington Post columnist Alyssa Rosenberg, and many more.

For more information about the 2024 Virginia History Day competition, please visit

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