The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has become the home base organization for National History Day Philly (NHD). NHD Philly is a year-long program where students in grades 6-12 present their primary and secondary research in projects through papers, exhibits, performances, websites, or documentaries. The NHD experience helps student develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, research and reading skills, oral and written communication skills, self-esteem and confidence, and a sense of responsibility for, and involvement in local, state, and national community. NHD provides the benefits of involvement, similar to sports, with professional level judging, an organized, rigorous competition, and a meaningful learning experience for the students. NHD Philly, the regional affiliate of National History Day Pennsylvania, has centered accessibility and inclusivity in its operations. While most regional affiliates have registration fees for participation in the competition, NHD Philly operates without them and provides materials to classrooms and transportation to the onsite competition. Furthermore, NHD Philly covers the registration, transportation, and lodging costs for students advancing to the state and national competitions.
The NHD Philly program reaches students in public, private, parochial, and charter schools throughout the city. It is supported by over 40 organizations representing museums, historical societies, libraries, and historic sites in Philadelphia’s cultural community. All high level planning and vision-setting for NHD Philly is completed by a Steering Committee that includes representatives from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections at Drexel University, the National Constitution Center, Stenton & the Colonial Dames, the Union League of Philadelphia, and an at-large historian.
For the past decade and a half, NHD Philly has been coordinated out of the Philadelphia branch of the National Archives under the direction of V. Chapman-Smith and Andrea Reidell. In July 2022, HSP took over this coordination effort. In partnership with NHD Philly Steering Committee members, HSP staff express their gratitude for the robust and inclusive year-round program that Ms. Reidell and Ms. Chapman-Smith have developed and stewarded. Because of their expertise in planning and partnerships, NHD Philly has a community of supporters who contribute to the program’s success and will be vital in the upcoming seasons of transition.
The transition of the National History Day Philly program from the National Archives to HSP has been made possible with support from the Connelly Foundation.