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National History Day in Colorado

Essential Elements of a Historical Research Project

Dissection of a Historical Research Project

After you have selected a topic, gathered primary and secondary sources, and analyzed your data, you must create your final presentation. Whether you choose to present your project as a paper, exhibit, performance, web site or documentary, you should make sure that it consists of the following parts:


  • Thesis: A concise statement of your argument.
  • The evidence and analysis in your project should "prove" the thesis.
  • The thesis should unify the entire presentation.
  • Main Points

  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Why this topic is important in history
  • Relate the topic to the theme
  • Time and word limits mean you must be selective in choosing what evidence to present. Make sure that everything you include relates clearly to your thesis and helps you to make your case.


  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Process Paper*
  • Title Page
  • Remember - your project must be able to stand on its own. You won't always be there to translate, explain, or give more information. Be sure to include all of the critical pieces of information in your project itself - don't "save" them for the interview; make them part of the project!

    **A process paper is required for all exhibit, performance, web site and documentary entries. It is not required in the historical paper category.