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Do’s and Don’ts for Archivists

This version was saved 12 years, 8 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Kathryn Otto
on June 7, 2011 at 1:07:18 pm

So You're Interested in Hosting NHD Students


Good for you. Please find below some tips for making sure that you and the National History Day (NHD) students get the most out of working together. Most of the tips are pretty applicable for working with patrons in general, but there are some that are NHD-specific. Enjoy!



  • Follow the National History Day Annual Guidelines (2010-2011 Contest Rule Book) and pre-select relevant collections. 
  • Consider developing a web page for NHD participants with links to relevant collections and resources.  (See Best Practices: Some Examples )
  • Work with your state coordinator  to coordinate class visits and individual NHD researchers.
  • Assign a staff member to liaison with your various NHD groups.
  • Communicate directly with the teacher to plan a class visit.
  • Refer teachers to sources you have highlighted on your webpage, in a list of topics for student research, or to any social media presence you have.  (See History Topics Examples)
  • If your finding aids are online, ask teacher to have students identify materials of interest and have teacher email call slips for each student.
  • Pull materials in preparation for a class visit.
  • Consider this an opportunity to share your archives with younger users.
  • Hang a sign that says "History Day Help.”
  • Try to find college age interns or retired teachers to volunteer during class visits/project time.  Train volunteers to bring any unresolved questions to the archivist.
  • Come up with creative ways to use original documents and images without adding to wear and tear—use plastic sheet protectors or make surrogate reproduction or digital versions.
  • Encourage students whose research topic has no holdings to check secondary sources to find new topics or search terms.
  • When students do find good stuff, create a "History Day topic" for it so you don't have to repeat the search.
  • Educate your users about primary and secondary sources.
  • Be flexible and accommodating with students who cannot visit on-site.
  • Be patient with both parents and students.
  • Know that the time you take when talking with or emailing students has a great impact.
  • Ask students questions to clarify their thinking. You'll need to adjust to their entry level into research but you will have a wonderful opportunity to make an impact.
  • Share your excitement for the past with teachers and students by talking about different ways to look at the selected topic.



  • Expect NHD students to know how to do research or search for materials.
  • Expect NHD teachers or students to understand what a finding aid is.
  • Do the research for the student.
  • Forget home-schooled students.
  • Leave out assessing the experience of your K-12 users.



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