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University of Connecticut University Libraries Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

History Day

History Day in Connecticut is part of the National History Day program. This annual competition engages students in grades 6-12 in the process of researching and interpreting a historical topic of their choice related to an annual theme. Working individually or in small groups, students are encouraged to find primary and secondary resources on their subject through research in libraries and museums, interviews, and visits to historic sites.

History Day in Connecticut is co-sponsored by Connecticut's Old State House and the Connecticut Historical Society, with major funding provided by Connecticut Humanities. Detailed information, contacts, and guidelines are available here.

The theme for 2015 is Leadership and Legacy in History and interested students are welcome to incorporate Archives & Special Collections materials in developing their History Day projects. Teachers and students are encouraged to contact Laura Smith to discuss specialized workshops or research sessions prior to arriving at Archives & Special Collections.

We have also developed several thematic guides to provide some insight into the types of materials and topics available that may be helpful.

The Immigrant Experience in America identifies documents, oral histories, photographs, books, articles and maps from multiple collections in Archives & Special Collections to illustrate the types of resources available for those interested in investigating the immigrant experience, with a special emphasis on Connecticut.

Curriculum guides provide ready lesson plans with primary sources accompanying each plan. Guides available provide sources for research on topics in Human Rights, issues of the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II, and gun control.

Online exhibits also provide and describe primary sources on various themes, from Women in Connecticut Industry to images of the Underground Press and the protest movements of the 1960s.

You can find many primary sources from the collections we have here in Archives & Special Collection in our new digital repository, which includes photographs, oral history interviews, historical documents and maps from Archives & Special Collections; of particular interest are the Nuremberg materials in the Thomas J. Dodd Papers. Connecticut History Illustrated, a database of resources from several of the state's heritage institutions, provides materials on almost every topic in Connecticut's rich history, from ethnic groups to political figures, and historical structures to natural wonders.

Need more ideas? We've put together some suggestions of topics from our collections here. Or, you can check here for other websites and databases that are ideal for History Day students.

For Students

Here are some tips for middle and high school students to know before arriving at a research institution.

Connecticut Archives Online has developed a page, available on, about "The Who, What, Where,When and Why of Archives: How to Use Them," at

Students may also find useful the National History Day Annual Theme Sheet, and a wiki with advice on how to find and use primary sources, created by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) National History Day Committee. SAA also provides a useful guide -- Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research -- that can help students find and evaluate primary sources available through the archives.

For Instructors

Information for teachers about the integration of primary resources into the social studies curriculum, and the standards for Connecticut in particular.