What is Hawaiʻi History Day?

Hawai‘i History Day, a state affiliate of National History Day (NHD), is a year-long history education program that invigorates the teaching and learning of history in grades 4-12. It promotes a theme-based, research-centered model for history and civics education. Students present their projects in an exhibit, performance, documentary, essay, or website project. History Day culminates in the presentation and evaluation of these projects at school, district, state and national history days.

In 2019-2020, Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities is celebrating 30 years of Hawaiʻi History Day programming. What a wonderful ride it’s been so far! We are immensely  privileged to be working with grade school, middle school and high school teachers in Hawaiʻi, who work so hard enriching the lives of our children. Teachers and schools who participate in Hawaiʻi History Day go above and beyond the call helping their students work on projects that take months of research and preparation, a rare opportunity for many students. The goals of our program are to offer teacher and students another path towards broadening historical perspectives and deepening understanding of the stories of our past, the complex and beautiful moʻolelo that make up our human experience.

As an introduction to our program (or perhaps a nostalgic reflection, if you are already part of our Hawaiʻi History Day community), please enjoy this beautiful video, lovingly put together by Dorian Langi, who has been a dedicated volunteer to Hawaiʻi History Day for many years. Mahalo nui, Dorian, for such a caring testament to this work and this program.

Three Divisions
  • Senior Division: Students in grades 9-12
  • Junior Division: Students in grades 6-8
  • Youth Division: Students in grades 4-5
Five Different Formats
  • Exhibit
  • Performance
  • Documentary
  • Essay
  • Website
Who can participate?

Public, private, charter, and home school students in grades 4-12 are eligible to participate in the Hawai‘i State DOE District in which their school is located.


A Slam Poem about Hawaiʻi History Day

Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is internationally renown for her powerful poetry and her engagement around climate change. In 2014, she spoke before the UN for the Secretary General’s Climate Summit. Her poem, written for her daughter, “Dear Matafele Peinem” received a standing ovation.

While attending UH Laboratory School, Kathy participated in Hawaiʻi History Day telling the story of her people, the Marshallese, and how the United States tested 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands. The impact of this history has been long lasting, tragic, and often unacknowledged.

Participation in Hawaiʻi History Day has a lasting impact on people’s lives. It strengthens and creates intergenerational bonds throughout our community and fosters the capacity to understand the world beyond our immediate individual experiences.

The stories and histories of many of our communities have not yet found substantive places in conventional curriculum. Hawaiʻi History Day provides an opportunity to look at the mana wai, the richness, depth, and diversity of all our stories here in the islands.