Graphic which reads: "National History Day 2023 Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas"

After 3 years of hosting National History Day virtually, nearly 200 mid- and high school students from across the state will gather in person on Saturday, April 15th, at the University of New Mexico to compete in the New Mexico National History Day contest.

National History Day is not just a day. It’s a year-long academic program where students choose a topic, conduct research, develop a historical argument or thesis, and create a presentation. They turn their research into projects — a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website — and display them to adult judges in a series of contests from the classroom to the national level. The top two places in every category from the state contest will compete at the national contest at the University of Maryland in June.

“National History Day allows students to delve into stories that they care about and produce quality projects that they can share with others,” says state coordinator Heather McClenahan.

Each year NHD has a theme to guide students’ research. This year’s theme is Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas. Students participating in the state contest have chosen topics that range from the Manhattan Project, Santa Fe Trail Pioneer Susan Magoffin, and steam engines to chile farming and novelist Agatha Christie.

In addition to the great work of the students, New Mexico’s NHD teachers of the year will be recognized, and teacher Amy Page of Moriarty High School, who won the national senior teacher of the year award in 2022, will be honored.

A Chautauqua performance by VanAnn Moore as Jessie Benton Fremont will be held before the award ceremony starting at 1:30pm.

With its focus on inquiry, primary source research, and presentation, National History Day aligns with the new state social studies standards that go into effect for the 2023-24 school year. Teachers or school administrators who are interested in learning more should contact state coordinator Heather McClenahan,, for more information.

In New Mexico, the National History Day program is managed by the New Mexico Humanities Council with support from volunteers, the University of New Mexico, and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, including the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.