Student Historian Handbook, Part III

Contest Rules


General Contest Rules for All Categories

Rule #1
Teachers must pre-register their students by completing and emailing a pre-registration form. All registration information, such as category and National History Day status, will remain the same for both the regional competition and the Illinois History Expo. Once the registration is complete the information will stand for both the regional fair and Expo.
Rule #2 All contestants must be in Grades 6-12. Students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 must enter the Junior Division. Students in Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 must enter the Senior Division.
Rule #3 No student may participate in more than one entry per category.
Rule #4 A paper, individual exhibit, individual performance, and individual media presentation must be the work of one (1) student. A group exhibit, group performance, and group media presentation must be the work of two (2) to five (5) students.
Rule #5 A bibliography is required for all entries in both divisions.
Students should refer to any standard bibliographic form such as MLA or Turabian.
Rule #6 All non-paper entries must be accompanied by a ""Summary Statement Form."
Rule #7 All entries must show student research on some phase of local or state history. All entries must be student-produced and constructed.
Rule #8 Laptops and monitors will be provided. Any additional equipment that is required must be provided by the student.
Rule #9 Audio used with a project must be kept to a level which does not distract any judge from evaluating any other project in the same project area.
A panel of upstate and downstate coordinators with NHD experience will select those advancing to NHD from those who are registered to compete. Be sure to check with the National History Day (NHD) Contest Guide to be certain of all the requirements for NHD. Compliance with NHD requirements is the responsibility of the teacher.
  • Copies of the NHD Contest Guide are available on the National History Day website.
  • Students who want their exhibit, performance, media entry, or research paper to be considered for NHD must incorporate the current theme for NHD, and include an annotated bibliography.
  • Students must indicate they are eligible for NHD consideration when they register for the regional history fair. Students cannot register for NHD after the regional history fair.

Rule #11  A summary statement form answering the following questions must be filled out and accompany all projects at the Regional and Illinois History Expo.

Rule #12 Securing the summary statement form & any other property (i.e. props, artifacts, etc.) are the student's responsibility.
Rule #13 All students must adhere to their school's rules and code of conduct in formulating any project and providing its individual parts or artifacts. If you have questions, request permission from your teacher.
Rule #14 Teachers must select each of the projects they advance to the regional history fairs in order that those projects best represent their school's efforts. Teachers should hold a school history fair to make this decision.
Rule #15 A certain percentage of superior projects will advance from each regional history fair to the Illinois History Exposition. The Student Historian Program of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will determine this number. All projects receiving a superior will not necessarily advance to the Illinois History Exposition.


Research Paper Rules

Rule #1
The text of a Junior Division or Senior Division research paper should be no less than 1,500 words and no more than 2,500 words. The same guidelines apply for National History Day entries.
Rule #2 The three (3) photocopies of a paper submitted for the Regional Fair satisfy the requirement for the number of papers submitted at the EXPO. Papers in both categories must have a cover sheet including the following information: Title, Student Name, School, Teacher, Grade, and NHD status (indicate whether project is competing for NHD).
Rule #3 Research papers must begin with a single, separate sheet including a Thesis Statement and an Outline.
The Thesis Statement should be a paragraph of two to three sentences declaring what question or questions you hope to answer in the following paper and what answers you gave to that question or those questions.
The Outline should contain no more than five headings. Each should deal with a step leading to your conclusion or conclusions.
Rule #4 All research papers must contain an annotated bibliography. Students are encouraged to follow the style found in Turabian's A Manual of Style for Writers of Term Papers, or any standard form. Lack of a bibliography will result in automatic disqualification.
Rule #5  An annotated bibliography is distinguished from other bibliographic forms by a brief (often one sentence) explanation of how the source was especially distinctive and useful for the topic on which you have written. It should take the following form:
A Systematic, impressive study uncovering "modern" doctrines about fiction in forgotten publications before James.
Rule #6 Papers must have footnotes or endnotes. Specific information on footnote form is available in Turabian's A Manual of Style for Writers of Term Papers or any other standard footnote form is acceptabl
NOTE: The page numbers that were used must be given in the footnote citation; if reference material came from a vertical file where no page numbers were available, please tell that no page numbers were given.
Rule #7 Papers can be about the student's own community, region, or the state as a whole. Papers may be submitted on the same topic as Illinois History magazine. However, they should be substantially different.
Rule #8 Papers must be written by only one student and he/she may submit only one paper.
Rule #9 To aid the local judges, papers should be typed and double-spaced.


Individual and Group Exhibit Rules

Rule #1
All exhibits must be constructed by the individual/students and have a minimum of 300 words on the exhibit panels.
NOTE: The point of research and planning in the exhibit category is to condense and synthesize the topic into a visual presentation that is self-explanatory.
Rule #2 An exhibit may contain additional written material, but it must take the form of captions and/or labels, documents, oral history, quotations, etc.
Rule #3 A group may range from two (2) to five (5) students.
Rule #4 Exhibit entries should be no more than 40" wide, 30" deep, and 6' high. Any project which does not comply with these sizes cannot receive a "Superior."
Rule #5 An exhibit must have a bibliography. Students should refer to Turabian's A Manual of Style for Writers of Term Papers, or any other standard form, to determine the correct bibliographic form.
Rule #6 Exhibits must be visual and stationary. The use of media devices, such as tape recorders or slide presentations, must be integral and functional to the project and must not run for more than three (3) minutes. Judges must be able to operate all media devices.
NOTE: Projects that use media devices which run for more than three (3) minutes will not qualify for a "Superior" rating.
Rule #7 Students are not allowed to resubmit another student's project or a project that they submitted from a previous year's fair.
Rule #8 All exhibits must be in place before 10:30 a.m. on the day of the Expo.



Individual and Group Performance Rules


Rule #1 Students will be allowed five (5) minutes to set up, ten (10) minutes to perform, and five (5) minutes to remove any props after the performance is over.
Rule #2 Performances that exceed the time limits in Rule #1 will not be eligible to receive a "Superior" rating.
Rule #3 A group may range from two (2) to five (5) students.
Rule #4 Students must supply their own equipment and props.
Rule #5 Use of computers or other media devices as accompaniment or a supplement to the live performance is permitted. Supplemental visual material must be integral to the performance, and is the responsibility of the student.
Rule #6 Performances must have a bibliography. Students should refer to Turabian's A Manual of Style for Writers of Term Papers, or any other standard form, to determine the correct bibliographic form.
Rule #7 A "Summary Statement Form" must be submitted to the judges prior to performance.
Rule #8 Performances must be the creation of the contestants.
Additional recorded music, photographs, slides, etc., must be fully credited within the bibliography.
Rule #9 Contestants will be assigned a time for their performance. Performances are open to the public.
Rule #10 Contestants should be available in the contest area twenty (20) minutes prior to their performance.



Individual and Group Media Rules


Rule #1 A maximum of five (5) minutes is given to set up, a maximum of ten (10) minutes for the presentation, and a maximum of five (5) minutes is given to take down the media.
Rule #2 Media which exceed the time limits in Rule #1 will not be eligible to receive a "Superior" rating.
Rule #3 Contestants may be present for the entire 20-minute media presentation. Please be prepared to answer any questions the judges may have. However, formal narratives will not be accepted.
Rule #4 Contestants will be assigned a time for their media presentation. Media presentations are not open to the public.
Rule #5 Media presentations include videotape presentations, slide or slide-tape presentations, or an original computer program, etc.
Rule #6 Media must have a bibliography. Students should refer to Turabian's A Manual of Style for Writers of Term Papers, or any other standard form, to determine the correct bibliographic form.
Rule #7 Professional photographs, slides, recorded music, etc., may be used, but such items must be integrated into the presentation by the student producers and must be fully credited within the bibliography and are the responsibility of the student. Students must narrate all audio portions except, for example, when using an oral history excerpt.
Rule #8 Added exhibits of visual material are not allowed.
Rule #9 Live involvement by students is limited to the running/operation of media devices/equipment. Judges must be able to control all media devices if students are not present to do so.
Rule #10 All media presentations must be accompanied by a "Summary Statement Form."
Rule #11 Computers, DVDs and monitors will be provided. Any additional equipment that is required must be provided by the student.
Rule #12 A group may range from two (2) to five (5) students.
Rule #13 Media results will be available for the teacher or student immediately after the Illinois History Expo closing ceremony.


Web Site Rules

The Web site category is the most interactive of all NHD categories. Therefore, a web site should reflect your ability to use web-site-design software and computer technology to communicate the topic’s significance in history. Your historical web site should be a collection of web pages, interconnected by hyperlinks, that presents primary and secondary sources, interactive multimedia, and historical analysis. It should incorporate textual and non-textual (photographs, maps, music, etc.) descriptions, interpretations, and sources to engage and inform viewers. To construct web site project, you must be able to operate, and have access to the Internet, appropriate software, and equipment.

Rule #1:  Entry Production
All entries must be original productions constructed using the NHD web site editor beginning at the school level. You may use professional photographs, graphics, video, recorded music, etc., within the site. Such items must be integrated into the web site, and proper credit must be given within the site as well as in the annotated bibliography. You must operate all software and equipment in the development of the web site.
Note: Using objects created by others for specific use in your entry violates this rule. For example, using a graphic that others produced at your request is not permitted; however, using graphics, multimedia clips, etc., that already exists is acceptable.
Rule #2:  Size Requirements
Web site entries may contain no more than 1,200 visible, student-composed words. Code used to build the site and alternate text tags on images do not count toward the word limit. Also excluded are: words found in materials used for identifying illustrations or used to briefly credit the sources of illustrations and quotations; recurring menus, titles, and navigation instructions; words within primary documents and artifacts; and the annotated bibliography and process paper that must be integrated into the site.  The entire site, including all multimedia, may use no more than 100MB of file space.
Rule #3:  Navigation
One page of the web site must serve as the “home page.” The home page must include the names of the participants, entry title, division, and the main menu that directs viewers to the various sections of the site. All pages must be interconnected with hypertext links. Automatic redirects are not permitted.
Rule #4:  Multimedia
Each multimedia clip may not last more than 45 seconds. You may record quotes and primary source materials for dramatic effect, but you may not narrate your own compositions or other explanatory material. All multimedia must be stored within the site; you may not use embedded material hosted elsewhere (e.g., YouTube, Google Video). There is no limit to the number of multimedia clips you may use, but you must respect the file size limit. If you use any multimedia that requires a specific software to view (e.g., Flash, QuickTime, Real Player), you must provide on the same page a link to an Internet site where the software is available as a free, secure, and legal download.  Judges will make every effort to view all multimedia content, but files that cannot be viewed cannot be evaluated as part of the entry.
Rule #5:  Required Written Materials
The annotated bibliography and summary statement form must be included as an integrated part of the web site. They should be included in the navigational structure. They do NOT count toward the 1,200 word limit.
Rule #6:  Stable Content
The content and appearance of a page cannot change when the page is refreshed in the browser. Random text or image generators are not allowed.
Rule #7:  Viewing Files
The pages that comprise the site must be viewable in a recent version of a standard web browser (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari). You are responsible for ensuring that your entry is viewable in multiple web browsers. Entries may not link to live or external sites, except to direct viewers to software plug-ins, per Rule 4.
Rule #8:  Submitting Entry for Judging
You must submit the URL for the site in advance by the established deadline, after which you will be blocked from editing your site to allow for judging. Because all required written materials are integrated into the site, NO printed copies are required. For access to the NHD web site editor and up-to-date submission procedures, please visit