Student Support

National History Day in Minnesota

National History Day is an interdisciplinary research project for students in grades 6–12.

History Day teaches students to:

  • Conduct in-depth research
  • Use primary and secondary sources
  • Read a variety of texts
  • Analyze and synthesize information
  • Write and present historical content

Students choose a topic that relates to an annual theme, research that topic, and develop their research into one of five presentation categories: research paper, exhibit, documentary, performance, or website. Students may then enter their projects into History Day competitions at school, regional, state, and national levels. The theme for 2016 will be "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History."

The Center for Austrian Studies wishes to encourage scholarship in the public schools. We feel it is vital for the training of future college students, scholars, and citizens. To effect this, we sponsor two $100 prizes awarded through the Minnesota Historical Society to entries in either the Junior or Senior Divisions. Prizes will be awarded on the basis of:

  1. Relevance to Central Europe
  2. Quality and depth of the research
  3. Clarity of the presentation and/or writing
  4. Ability of the student(s) to explain their project

So, what can I write about?

There are many possible History Day topics related to the History of Austria and East Central Europe. The countries of central Europe—Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina—are rich sources for study. The Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, and the Russian Empire have ruled, or desired to rule, parts of these territories. After WWI, the Habsburg Empire dissoved, giving rise to a number of independent countries. After WWII, Austria and the former Habsburg territories found themselves on the frontier of the Cold War. The region has a long history of stubborn independence at the regional—and even civic—level. Language, religion, and culture have long been, and remain, areas of friction in this region, and many leaders, among them ordinary men and women, have played their part in preserving and promoting cultural and political autonomy. There is much to write about—feel free to ask us for help!

Here are a few general topics to think about:

  • The Habsburg Dynasty (especially at the end of WWI, about which much has recently been published)
  • Vienna. The city's leading role in the Austro-Hungarian Europe and in the present. Also, its leadership in the arts and sciences, especially in the early part of the twentieth century.
  • Migration and immigration. This is a hot topic in Austria, especially concerning the Muslim community there.
  • Geography and borders. A presentation on how the borders of this region changed in the 20th century could be fascinating.
  • The Nazi era. This region was caught up in the turmoil of the Nazi onslaught, and leadership was hotly contested between collaborators and resisters. The legacy of this period remains vital, and contested, to this day.
  • The Anschluß. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, and most Austrians approved of this; yet after the war, Austrians portrayed themselves as victims.
  • The Balkans. The people of the Balkans have defined and redefined themselves many times over the centuries. Leadership here takes many forms, from artists to assassins, from Kings to schoolteachers.

CAS History Day Award Winners

  • Sara Abbas, Samiksha Kanukunta, "Johannes Gutenbert and the Printing Press" (Salk Middle School, 2016)

  • Anna Thickens, "Sigmund Freud: Exploration in to the Mind" (Marshall School - Duluth, 2016)

  • Henry Jacobs, "The Complex Political Legacies of Mikhail Gorbachev and his Leadership in the Soviet Union" (Friends School of Minnesota, 2015)

  • Elaea Purmalietis, "The Baltic Legacy: Surviving Stalin’s Oppression" (Highland Park Senior High School, 2015)

  • Anita Goharfar and Kaitlyn Frutiger, Loyola Catholic School - Fitzgerald Campus, for “In the Enemy’s Hands: The Geneva Convention of 1949" (2014)

  • Elizabeth Booms, Parkview Center School, for “Kristallnacht" (2014)
Why do we enjoy participating in History Day? Because of letters like this:

This year was my first year doing the History Day Competition in High School. Initially, I was very intimidated by the idea of such a broad topic, and such a large project. However, I'm very glad that I chose to participate. I learned so much, not only about my topic, but about how to go about working on a large project. I learned about how a project can grow and change, and I learned the importance of reaching out to ask for extra help when needed. I didn't do my project for a prize, but it is a fun bonus. Thank you so much for your kind and generous prize donation.
Sincerely,
Anna Thickens