National History Day

DPLA is proud to be a part of National History Day, a series of contests in which students present research projects related to a historical theme that they’ve developed using primary and secondary sources. Containing millions of primary and secondary sources, DPLA is the perfect complement to National History Day. The page below contains information and resources related to our efforts to increase access to DPLA resources for National History Day students. Questions? Email us at

2020-21 Theme: Communication in History: The Key To Understanding

The 2020-21 National History Day theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Students should begin their research with secondary sources to gain a broader context, then progress to finding primary sources, and finally make an argument about the effects of a topic in history. Below are selected free Primary Source Sets and Exhibitions available via DPLA that would be useful for exploring this year’s theme.

Black Women’s Suffrage and Communication

This year, we launched a new Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection, which provides free access to nearly 200,000 letters, memoirs, diaries, newspaper clippings, images, and more that bring to life the history of Black Women’s activism from the 1850s to the 1960s and beyond. The materials featured in the Ida B. Wells Barnett Papers, from our partner the University of Chicago Libraries, help tell the story of how Ida B. Wells Barnett used the written word as a powerful tool to help wage her campaign against lynching and for civil rights and women’s rights.

Explore the Ida B. Wells Barnett Papers.

Visit the Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection.

Art & Literature as Communication

Communication and Protest

Communication and Technology

About National History Day