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How To Write A Thesis Statement For History Fair

Thesis Statement: It is the foundation of your project. It will guide ALL the work you will do on your project.



Basically, a thesis is an argument... YOUR ARGUMENT! It presents a point that YOU want to prove about your topic. It shows YOUR opinion or beliefs about a particular issue.

A good thesis statement...
  • Presents a clear, original, and interesting argument.
  • Can be proven or supported by research.
  • Introduces the arguments you will use to support your claim.

A good NHD thesis statement also...
  • Addresses a narrow topic that interests you.
  • Connects that topic with the theme.
  • Is easy to understand even for someone who knows nothing about your topic.

For this year's theme, your thesis will most likely involve a cause and effect relationship, showing how your topic changed history, but it does not have to. Here are some examples of potential thesis statements for this year's theme.


Examples:"The advent of air conditioning caused the migration of many Northerners to Southern states such as Florida. This shift introduced elements of a more "Northern" lifestyle, including a variety of culinary traditions and more service-based jobs, significantly changing the culture and economy of the South." 

Get help writing your thesis statement!If you're not sure where to start, try these helpful links:
Sample Thesis Statements


Here I Stand: Paul Robeson's Legacy of Leadership
Paul Robeson’s resounding voice could never be silenced. Throughout his extraordinary career as an artist and activist, he forged a rich legacy of fearless, dedicated, and creative leadership that shaped the next generation of civil rights activists.


To Learn or to Earn? The National Child Labor Committee and the Fight Against Child Exploitation
The leadership of the National Child Labor Committee piloted the social reform movement against the exploitation of children. By harnessing the power of propaganda to influence public opinion, the NCLC changed society’s perception, thus allowing for the passage of national legislation prohibiting the labor of children. The legacy of the NCLC lies not only in ending child labor,  but also in establishing a  precedent for  future federal regulation of labor. 


Wild Bill Donovan: Leader of American Espionage
On June 13, 1942, six months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt, with the urging of Colonel William Donovan, created the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan was appointed Director of the OSS and under his leadership, the OSS gathered foreign intelligence on America's enemies during WWII. The United States Armed Forces used this intelligence to defeat the Axis Powers. After the war, the OSS and Donovan's legacy of ideas and methods in espionage evolved into the modern day Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).


A Unique Position: Reagan, Gorbachev, and the End of the Cold War
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union was on the verge of economic collapse and the United States was deeply in debt and disgruntled with the costly arms race. Mikhail Gorbachev and his counterpart, Ronald Reagan, both acknowledged the stagnancy of the communist state, and brought fresh views into a conflict that had dominated the international landscape for almost half a century. Their complementary leadership styles and eager collaboration helped to dissolve the Iron Curtain and cement a legacy of solidarity between the Eastern Bloc and the West. 

The time is nearing.

Topics have been chosen, research is in full swing, students are starting to ponder color schemes and costume choices. That can only mean that the time for one of the most difficult steps in the process is at hand: the writing of the thesis statement.

The thesis statement, best written when students are in the middle of their research so the statement is based on knowledge but still has a chance to be flexible, helps direct students through their argument and, later, judges and teachers through the project’s ultimate point. It is so important, and for a lot of students, so daunting.

There are no hard and fast rules for thesis-statement writing, but here are a couple of guidelines to ease students’ path.

  • Keep it short. Thesis statements should hover between 40-60 words. Too short, and there’s not enough information to explain the argument. Too long, and too many details have been included. Plus, if the students are creating an exhibit, and they only have 500 student-composed words to use, it doesn’t make sense to use up 100 of those words on just the thesis.
  • Include all five W’s. The thesis is the first thing the viewer reads, so we should know immediately the who-what-where-when, and also the why-is-this-important.
  • Include the theme words. Judges and teachers need to know how the topic relates to the theme, especially if the topic is obscure, extremely narrow, or isn’t immediately clear in its connection to the theme words.
  • Leave facts out, put arguments in. We don’t need to see every detail of the topic in the thesis. Leave those for the project itself. What we need to see in the thesis is the student’s argument, or the point he/she is trying to make.
  • Write, revise, research, revise. Students should not use the first draft of their thesis statement, but instead should revise based on feedback, go back to their research or conduct new research to make sure the thesis is accurate, and then revise once more.

If you can, show students good examples of thesis statements, as well as bad examples. Here is a good resource to get you started. While a good thesis statement doesn’t automatically ensure a good project, it certainly makes the project better and helps the student find a focus.

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