Iowa Students Advance to Finals of National History Day Contest

Photos courtesy of Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

For a whole school year, almost 500 Iowa students, worked—either in teams or individually—on projects to dig into the theme “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.”

Of the 500, 62 students from 18 different schools took top honors in the contest.

In June, those 62 students will travel to Maryland to compete in the National History Day Contest, pitting their projects against 3,000 other students from around the world.

Their projects came out in formats which included documentaries, websites, performances, papers, and traditional exhibits. There were also special categories: agricultural and rural history, labor history, African American history, history about the Holocaust, women’s history and military history.

The program and research starts at the beginning of the school year, and students do high-level research on the subject they choose—digging into archival libraries to find a variety of sources. Students even get the opportunity to use the libraries at the State Historical Archives and Iowa History Research Centers in Des Moines and Iowa City.

In addition to learning about history, students also develop their research, literacy and critical thinking skills through the project. By the end, they learn how to present and communicate to wide audiences.

Students can participate as young as fourth grade, though the program isn’t competitive until the 6-8 grade junior division.

More photos can be found here.

The National History Day Iowa program has been happening for almost 30 years and it’s coordinated through the State Historical Society of Iowa. It’s sponsored by State Historical Society, Inc., National Endowment for the Humanities and Bravo Greater Des Moines.

The students came from these 18 schools:

  • Abraham Lincoln High School
  • Akron-Westfield Middle School
  • Bettendorf Middle School
  • Carroll High School
  • Clarinda High School
  • Decorah Community Schools Homeschool Assistance Program
  • Decorah Middle School
  • Franklin Middle School
  • Gerald W. Kirn Middle School
  • Harding Middle School
  • Johnston Middle School
  • Lewis Central Senior High School
  • Marshalltown High School
  • Nashua-Plainfield Junior-Senior High School
  • North Scott Senior High School
  • St. Benedict School
  • Storm Lake High School
  • Unity Christian High School


Nikoel Hytrek


If you enjoy stories like these, make sure to sign up for Iowa Starting Line’s main newsletter and/or our working class-focused Worker’s Almanac newsletter.

Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

​​Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us hereFind ISL on TikTokInstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *