Choosing a topic was always something that I thought was particularly exciting. Every year, NHD selects a very broad theme that gives tremendous topic selection leeway to students. This is a great opportunity for you to pick an area of history that you find interesting, or something you have never had the opportunity to previously study.
To start, I created a list of broad ideas that I could connect easily back to the yearly theme. This list was always very broad, but it was meant to develop a sense of what area of history I was most interested in for that year. Once I made a choice about the time period, event, invention, person, or anything else, I then began to narrow the scope to make my project manageable. This can be difficult for many people because it is tempting to take on too “big” a topic. However, it is important that you keep a narrow enough focus when selecting your final topic so you can go in depth with your research, and so you can make your thesis and conclusion really targeted. When a topic is too broad, it becomes easy for the project to deviate from the annual theme.
Once you find an angle that best fits your interests and the theme it is helpful to create a project title. This should both capture the point of your project and incorporate an element that ties the project to the theme — for example, if the theme is about taking a stand in history, you should state who or what group is taking a stand directly in your title. After that, you have a topic!