Closer Readings Commentary

How to Make Sure Your National History Day Students Learn from the Experts

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National History Day (NHD) are introducing the more than 600,000 students participating in National History Day contests to prominent public historians in a series of NEH Google+ Hangouts that give a behind-the-scenes look at NEH-supported exhibitions, films, and online projects.

Museum and media professionals participating in the “Ask an Expert” NEH Google+ Hangouts are offering first-hand strategies for creating engaging exhibitions, documentary films, and websites. The Hangouts are introducing National History Day student participants—who complete their own projects in these categories—to techniques for historical research and powerful storytelling.

Three NEH grantees will teach students about the craft of researching and producing websites, exhibitions, and documentaries, using their NEH-funded projects as examples.

Participants in the NEH Google+ Hangouts can ask a question using the Twitter hashtag: #NHDHangouts.

National History Day is a year-long academic program in which students grades 6-12 conduct original historical research for papers, exhibits, websites, documentaries, and public performances. Each year students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and in international schools overseas compete in local, regional, and state competitions for a chance to win a spot at the national finals. Watch an NEH video on the National History Day competition.

EDSITEment, NEH’s educational website, also created a set of online resources around Chronicling America to assist students and educators in using the newspapers in historical research.

Register here to participate in these upcoming “Ask an Expert” NEH Google + Hangouts.

  • “Ask an Expert:” Exhibitions -- Thursday, January 30, 7-8 pm EST/ 4-5 pm PT

Brian Horrigan, Exhibit Curator, Minnesota Historical Society will lead the NEH Google+ Hangout on Exhibitions, sharing a behind-the-scenes look at his work putting together the NEH-supported exhibition The 1968 Exhibit.

  • “Ask an Expert:” Documentaries -- Thursday, February 6 , 7-8 pm EST/ 4-5 pm PT

Laurie Kahn, film director/producer, will lead the NEH Google+ Hangout on Documentaries, using her NEH-support film A Midwife’s Tale, based on the diary of an 18th century midwife, as an example.

To submit a question for an “Ask the Expert” NEH Google+ Hangout, use the hashtag #NHDHangouts

Archived "Ask an Expert" Louise Lippincott, Chief Curator of Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art led the NEH Google+ Hangout on Websites, presenting on the experience building the website and online archive for the NEH-supported exhibition Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story.

National History Day will also partner with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Newseum to offer Google+ Hangouts for students preparing National History Day entries in the categories of “Performances” and “Papers” on January 21 and February 26, respectively. Registration information and a complete list of NHD Google+ Hangouts is available at:

Adapted from the NEH Press Release

NEH Presents “Ask An Expert” Google + Hangouts for National History Day Students | National Endowment for the Humanities