Regional NHD Topics

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2018 National History Day Theme: Conflict and Compromise

Each year there is a theme to the National History Day contest which is intended to guide students in developing their research. The 2018 theme is "Conflict and Compromise."  The theme is intentionally broad so that students may select a local, state, national, or world history topic that is of special interest to them.

Click here to see a description of the 2018 theme and examples of national and world history topics appropriate to the "Conflict  and Compromise" theme.

Interested in local history?  Below are potential National History Day project topics from Southeast Pennsylvania history that have been suggested by the staff of the Chester County Historical Society.    

1. Public drinking water:  Did you know that the first attempt in 1825 to provide public water to the town of West Chester failed and it took 16 more years before public water became available to citizens? Why did the attempts fail?  Is access to water the right of a citizen?  Why is the local government responsible for providing it? 

2. Women and Women's Rights: Forbes magazine calls Rebecca Lukens of Coatesville "America's first female CEO of an industrial company."  She took on this role in 1825, a time when women's rights were restricted.  Did she change how women's competencies were viewed?  How did she run her business differently than her male counterparts and did this have an impact on the community?  The first PA Women's Rights Convention was held June 2-3, 1852 in West Chester's Horticultural Hall (part of the Historical Society building now).  Did bringing the statewide reform movement to West Chester encourage early change in our region?  How did the 19th Amendment change your town, county, and state as women entered politics? Were there conflicts in enacting these changes? If yes, how were they resolved? 

3. Conservation and Land Use: Chester County scholar and botanist Dr. William Darlington used Marsh Creek's source as the site of his important field studies of native plants.  He published his "Flora Cestrica" in 1837. In the 1970s, the creek was damned and a 535 acre man-made lake was created as a reservoir.  The historic town of Milford Mills is now underwater.  In 1984, the Brandywine Conservancy's King Ranch Project succeeded in preserving thousands of acres of Chester County's undeveloped land.  This protects the watershed which supplies our region with 6 million gallons a day.  Were there conflicts in the attempt to preserve Chester County's undeveloped land? What happened to the people living in Milford Mills? Did they move willingly, or were there conflicts in the move? 

4. Passmore Williamson and the 1780 Pennsylvania Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery: This state law significantly predates Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. When Passmore Williamson used this Act to free Jane Johnson and her sons in Philadelphia, what conflicts did he face? What was the outcome? 

5. Women's Temperance Union, Prohibition and Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board:  Early taverns played an important role in the commerce and even the government of our region.  Americans use of spirits and restrictions on drinking changed dramatically from colonial times to now.  What people, ideas, and events were significant to this change? Did Prohibition and Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board cause conflict in Pennsylvania?  What are the outcomes of these restrictions?

6.  Be inspired by photos from our collection.  Click the link below (called Photo Archives Samples 2015) to see three photos and how to find them at CCHS.  

Some additional local people/topics might include:  Samuel Entrikin, Humphrey Marshall, Raymond Rettew, Anne Preson, Bayard Rustin, Rebecca Lukens, Josiah Harlan.  Come visit our library and archives for primary resources and tips on how to find them.