This is by far the most important factor in judging an entry. It refers to research, analysis, and interpretation of the topic. The entry should be historically accurate. It should not simply recount facts but interpret and analyze them; that is, the entry should have a strong thesis or argument. In addition, it should place the topic into historical context--the intellectual, physical, social, and cultural setting. The entry should also reflect historical perspective--the causes and consequences of an event, for example, or the relationship of a local topic to larger events. The best entries will use a variety of both primary and secondary sources and will consider multiple viewpoints (e.g. those who suffered as well as benefited, males and females, people from different racial or ethnic or socioeconomic groups, as appropriate to the topic).
A note on primary sources: primary sources are materials directly related to a topic by time or participation. These materials include letters, speeches, diaries, contemporaneous newspaper articles, oral history interviews, documents, photographs, artifacts, or anything else that provides the first-hand accounts about a person or event. An interview with an expert (a professor of Civil War history, for example) is not a primary source. Quotes from historical figures in secondary sources are not considered primary. Primary sources may be found in a variety of formats: the original documents in archives or in microfilm formats, facsimile copies, transcriptions printed in books or available on reliable Internet sites, or even films or recordings.
Relation to Theme (20%)
The entry must clearly relate to the annual theme and demonstrate why the topic is significant in history. Do not confuse fame with significance. Local history topic may not be well known but may represent larger trends or events. The paper/documentary/ performance/exhibit should draw conclusions about the topic's significance. In other words, the entry should answer the questions, "So what? Why was this important?" It should not be just descriptive.
Clarity of Presentation (20%)
This relates to the entry's overall presentation. Are all materials clear, organized, and well done? The specifics of this part will obviously vary with the category. As a general rule, do not be carried away by glitz; simpler is often better.
Overall Rating -- see the rubric
Superior -- Excellent -- Good -- Needs Improvement
Comments: Strengths -- Areas for Improvement --so that the project can be improved if they are moving on to the next level
History Day Evaluation
Every History Day category has a judging form specifically designed for that category. Copies of the judging forms may be requested from the State Coordinator. Judges are encouraged to comment upon the entry and make suggestions for improvement. Each category's form is based upon the following general criteria used by all judges.
(A) Historical Quality 60% of Total
Is the entry historically accurate and authentic, or does it have serious omissions?
Does the entry demonstrate a grasp of the subject within the historical context of the era? The students' knowledge and analysis should extend beyond a very narrow topic to its overall importance.
Does the entry provide an analysis of the historical data, or is it just a description of the event/topic? Remember, history is not just the past, it is the past explained.
Is there a wide use of primary and secondary sources? Is the research balanced, does it demonstrate an analysis of all points of view?
Does the presentation demonstrate a balance of their viewpoints?
(B) Adherence to the Theme 20% of Total
1. Does the entry clearly relate to the History Day theme? The judges may look at an entry's content, its title, and the analysis of the event.
(C) Quality of Presentation 20% of Total These criteria are designed for each specific category. In general the judges will look for: 1. Clarity 2. Organization 3. Creativity 4. Appropriateness of historical materials, props,etc. 5. Presentation/performance quality 6. Clear visuals or sound