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National History Day in Wisconsin banner.

Guide to Competition

The National History Day program includes a progressive contest cycle open to students in grades 6-12. Wisconsin students may compete at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Information about contest rules can be found in the contest rulebook.

School/Local Events

Many teachers opt to organize a school or local History Day event prior to the regional event. These events function as history fairs and offer a great opportunity to bring families, school administrators, and other community members into the classroom. Since regional coordinators usually must limit the number of entries per category that they will accept from each school, schools with a large number of History Day participants generally use school events to select the entries that will go on. View our school events page to learn more and download useful materials. Need more information? Contact the staff at the state office via e-mail at

Regional Events

Wisconsin's regional events are usually held during March and early April. The three top-ranking entries per category go on to the state event. (Categories are separated by age division, group type, and project type. For example, “Senior Group Documentary” is one category.) Each region has its own coordinator and includes a multi-county area. Regional coordinators set participation guidelines for their events, including limits on entries per school and entry fees. To learn more about the regional event your school will attend and to find out how to contact your regional coordinator, check our directory of regional contact information.

State Event

The Wisconsin State History Day Event takes place in either late April or early May at the Wisconsin Historical Society and at nearby facilities on the UW-Madison campus. Every Wisconsin school that participates in History Day may send at least one entry to the state event, so teachers may select a “Best of School” entry to participate IF no entry from the school ranks within the top three in its category at the regional level. (Note: This policy does not apply to home school students.) The two highest-ranking entries at the state event are eligible to participate in the national contest in June. The state event is sponsored and coordinated by Wisconsin Historical Society. View contact information for program coordinators.

National Contest

The national contest is held during the second or third week of June at the University of Maryland – College Park, which is located just a short metro ride from downtown Washington D.C. Wisconsin students travel independently to the national contest and usually opt to stay with the state's delegation in the campus dormitories. At the national contest, judging of projects is just one part of an exciting week filled with opportunities to explore the nation's capital and meet students from across the country. To experience the national contest through the eyes of Wisconsin students, check out the online journals of past delegations.

National History Day in Wisconsin Policies

Review these documents for clarification on common participation policies.

Eligibility Requirements

"National History Day is open to all students and teachers without regard to race, sex, religion, physical abilities, economic status, or sexual orientation. National History Day does not discriminate against or limit participation by physically challenged students. National History Day staff and state coordinators will make every effort to accommodate students with special needs." National History Day Rulebook

General Event Participation Guidelines

The National History Day competition cycle is open to students in grades 6-12. The competition cycle is open to students in public, private, parochial, or home schools. Students can participate with a class or work independently. Students must adhere to the general rules for all categories in the NHD Contest Rulebook, especially noting rules regarding contest participation and entry development, and submit registration materials by the deadline.

Note for Wisconsin Students in 4th and 5th Grades: Some Wisconsin schools participate in NHD with 4th and 5th grade students. Teachers are welcome to have these students develop projects according to NHD criteria. Teachers are encouraged to have a presentation or fair to showcase student work, and some regional coordinators may be able to accommodate an exposition at the regional event. Students in these grades, however, cannot compete in the NHD event cycle or advance to the Wisconsin State Event or national contest.

To Participate in a Regional Contest

Regional contests are assigned based on the county in which the school is located. Schools are also subject to the regional entry limit, generally four to five entries per category/division from each school (e.g. junior group documentary, senior individual performance, etc.). If your school has more entries than the region's limit, the participating teacher is responsible for deciding which entries are eligible to go to the regional contest. Generally a separate school event is held for this purpose. Each regional coordinator sets their entry limit based on space limitations. Contact your regional coordinator for more information on their entry limit and regional registration materials.

To Participate in the State Event

In order to participate in the state event, students must have competed in one of the seven regional events in Wisconsin and placed in the top three in their category/division. If a top-placing entry is unable to attend the state event, the spot will be offered to the alternate in that category/division, in the order of their ranking.

If a school sent entries to a regional competition and did not have any students place in the top three in their category/division, the school is eligible to send a Best of School entry to the state event. This process has been designed to include as many students as possible in the excitement of the state event and also to give every school a first-hand experience that will bolster their program as they head into the next school year. You will be contacted by the state coordinator if your school is eligible. Note: The Best of School policy does not apply to home school students.

To Participate in the National Contest

The top two entries in each category/division at the state event are eligible for the national contest. If a top-placing entry is unable to attend the national contest, the spot will be offered to the alternate, in the order of their ranking.

Other Questions

Please feel free to contact the National History Day in Wisconsin state office with any other questions.

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