Parent Letter from the Chicago History Fair Staff PDF Print E-mail

Dear Parents,

Your child’s class is participating in the Chicago Metro History Fair this year. We would like to introduce you to the program so that you may better understand your child’s involvement. The Chicago Metro History Education Center (CMHEC), which runs the History Fair, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the study of local history. Teachers recognize that the History Fair offers a creative, hands-on approach to help students develop basic reading, writing, and reasoning skills, and build valuable research and communications skills. It takes a lot of extra effort by teachers to incorporate History Fair into the curriculum, but they know students benefit.

For History Fair, students are asked to do research (both in and out of school) on a topic related to Chicago history they are interested in investigating, and then create a presentation based on their findings. Some students may be required, and others may simply elect, to do a local history topic based on the "National History Day" (NHD) theme.

Many schools hold a History Fair where a number of projects are chosen to represent the school at the citywide competitions. The school fairs often take place during the late winter/early spring. To help make the History Fair experience more rewarding for your child, please make sure you are aware of the rules and deadlines and work with your child on planning time for research, writing, and production.

At the citywide competition, trained volunteer judges (teachers, parents, corporate volunteers, and other civic-minded individuals) evaluate each project based on its historical knowledge, analysis, presentation, and use of sources. The top-scoring projects are chosen to compete at the next level of competition. For students in grades 6 through 8, the stage after the citywide History Fair is the State Expo; for senior high school students, they must first compete at Finals, and the winners from Finals attend the State Expo.

At each level of the competition, we commend all the students on their achievement AND encourage those who are chosen to go to the next level to improve their projects. (WHY? First, because there is always room for improvement. Second, as one might expect, at each level the competition is a little tougher!)

Advancing to the State Expo is a great achievement. For those students who have incorporated the NHD theme into their project, they will have the opportunity to compete in representing their school and Illinois at the national competition in Washington, D.C., in mid-June. A special team of judges at the State Expo will decide which NHD-eligible projects will go to National History Day—more than 30 projects in the entire state will attend. We will hold a workshop for those going on to Washington soon after the State Expo to help them prepare for NHD.

Thank you for taking an active role in your child’s education. If you ever have any questions about the History Fair, we encourage you to talk to your child’s teacher or contact us directly at 312-255-3661 or


Sincerely, The History Fair Staff


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