UMaine, Margaret Chase Smith Library Team up to Host Statewide Competition in Orono

A new partnership between the University of Maine and the Margaret Chase Smith Library will bring the Maine National History Day competition for students in grades 6–12 to the UMaine campus starting in spring 2014.

National History Day (NHD) is an academic program that promotes critical thinking, research and presentation skills through project-based learning for students of all abilities.

Students choose historical topics related to a theme — this year it’s “Rights and Responsibilities in History” — and conduct extensive research before creating projects in the form of exhibits, documentaries, dramatic performances, papers or websites, to present at the statewide competition where the projects are evaluated by professional historians and educators.

More than half a million students, working with thousand of teachers, participate in the national contest annually.

The Maine History Day competition will take place Saturday, April 12, 2014 on the Orono campus, for the first time since the national program began in 1980. Winners from the state competitions are then able to compete in the national contest in Washington, D.C. during June 2014.

“I have had an amazing experience as a judge at the state competition the past two years,” says Liam Riordan, a UMaine Humanities Initiative Advisory Board member and associate professor of history, “and what makes it exciting for students is that they choose their own research topic and the category that most interests them. Plus, students can compete as an individual or as part of a team. It will be great to continue this vital program at UMaine for many years to come.”

Several events leading up to Maine National History Day are scheduled around the state:

  • 4:30–6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, pizza and introductory session at the Bangor Public Library. The informal orientation and discussion for teachers, students and parents will be co-hosted by the UMaine Humanities Initiative, Bangor Museum and History Center, Maine Discovery Museum, and Bangor Public Library.

  • 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, National History Day Teacher Institute at UMaine. The free professional development program for grade 6–12 teachers will include a keynote lecture by the Maine Department of Education’s social studies specialist. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. To register, for more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Riordan at or 207.581.1913.

  • 9:35–10:45 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, NHD panel to speak at the Maine Council for the Social Studies annual conference at the Augusta Civic Center. Riordan; Devin Beliveau, a Thornton Academy teacher; and Christopher Ohge, digital specialist with the UMaine Humanities Initiative are expected to take part.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, NHD teacher workshop at the Maine Historical Society in Portland in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. For more information, email Larissa Vigue Picard at

The deadline for schools and/or students to register to compete at Maine National History Day is March 28, 2014.

“National History Day is thrilled about this new partnership among Maine’s most prominent historical and cultural institutions to bring Maine History Day to more teachers and students,” says Kim Fortney, deputy director of NHD in Washington, D.C.

The co-organizers for this new partnership, UMaine and the Margaret Chase Smith Library, are joined by the College of Education and Human Development, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UMaine Humanities Initiative, Maine Humanities Council, UMaine History Department, Maine Historical Society and many local historical and cultural organizations.

For more information or to request disability accommodations, contact the NHD state coordinator, John Taylor with the Margaret Chase Smith Library, at 207.474.7132 or, or visit the Maine NHD Web page.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747