Chicago Metro History Fair Performance Rules PDF Print E-mail
rulebook performance

Performances allow students to communicate their ideas through a short dramatic and/or humorous play of their own creation. Performances can be an excellent match for students who like to express their ideas verbally.

newThe NEW Performance Category Rules (2017 Update)

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performance rules

Performance Category Rules

Performances allow students to communicate their ideas through a short dramatic and/or humorous play of their own creation.

  • Performances are created by individuals or groups of no more than five students. Only those students listed as entrants may participate in the production. Performances may not exceed ten minutes. The length of the performance must be provided on the Summary Statement.
  • Dramatic performances and props/scenery must be created and performed entirely by the students registered.
  • Students are allowed five minutes to set up and five minutes to remove props. Students should operate all equipment independently. Adults should not assist with set up of props unless necessary for safety.
  • Use of audiovisual equipment within the performance is permitted. Students must provide and run all audiovisual enhancements independently. Remember: the student’s own analysis and interpretation should take precedence, not fancy effects.

Performance Competition Notes

Performance students perform their plays live at the competition. When presenting at competition, students should announce only their name(s) and title of their project (not school) prior to performing.

Please bring three copies of the following materials to the contest:

  • Summary Statement
  • Annotated Bibliography, [See “Required Materials”  below]

Students need not submit their scripts.

Performances begins with the title and introduction of the students only.

Written materials should be printed on plain white paper and stapled together (no binders). Judges will ask to keep at least one copy of the written materials. Performances are followed by a brief interview with the judges.

[Visit the Performances page at "History Fair Project Guides" to download a how-to manual, more tips, and view sample performances.]


High School performances that violate the rules will be subject to penalty point deductions. Junior Division performances will not receive separate penalties.

  • Exceeds time limit: Minus 2 points for exceeding ten minutes, plus 2 points for each full minute thereafter (10 point maximum penalty)
  • No Summary Statement: Minus 10 points
  • Bibliography not annotated: Minus 5 points
  • No bibliography: 0 points in source category

Rules for All Categories

All History Fair projects must comply with these rules AND the specific rules for each category which follow.

  • Topics must connect with Chicago or Illinois history in order to advance to the state contest. Non-Illinois topics are only permitted at the regional and finals competitions.
  • Projects competing to advance to National History Day must connect to Chicago/Illinois history and use the NHD theme.
  • Projects registered as “NHD eligible” will be assessed on how well their project integrates the NHD theme.
  • Students may enter only one project each year. Sharing research in multiple projects is not permitted. Revising or reusing an entry from a previous year—whether one’s own or another student’s—will result in disqualification.
  • Entries submitted for competition must be original and have been researched and developed in the current contest year.
  • Students are responsible for the research, design, and production of their own project, as well as operating their own equipment and materials, including any narration. Students may receive advice from adults on the mechanical aspects of creating an entry and/or reasonable help necessary for safety, but the work must be completed by students. Materials created by others for use in the entry violate this rule.
  • Each project is required to have a Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography. [See “Required Materials” for more details.]
  • Word counts must be provided for exhibits, websites, and papers. Time lengths must be provided for documentaries and performances.
  • Plagiarism is unacceptable, and constitutes grounds for disqualification. [See for further guidance.]
  • Items potentially dangerous in any way—such as weapons, firearms, animals, etc.—are strictly prohibited.
  • Do not place school name on projects, nor give in interviews.
  • Interviews: Students should not prepare a formal, verbal presentation; however, they should plan to respond to questions posed by judges. The interviews are important to the History Fair experience, but the entry is judged on its merits alone. Website and paper interviews are optional.
  • The Fair Use Doctrine allows students to use pre-existing materials (photos, footage, music, etc.) for educational purposes, including student productions like History Fair; therefore, students need not seek formal permissions within the context of the competition. However, if the project is shown in non-educational settings, then permissions should be sought as appropriate.
  • Teachers may have additional rules/restrictions for the History Fair at individual schools. Students should comply with all rules set by their teacher. Exhibits, performances, and documentaries will be judged and interviewed at the public competitions. Papers and websites are judged in a separate stream, which may have different deadlines for submission.

Required Materials

All projects must include an Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement. Bibliographies must follow either the Turabian or MLA style format. Turabian is preferred. In the bibliography, each source should be annotated with a short description of how the student used that source.

The bibliography must be divided between primary sources (sources from the time period or written by someone with firsthand knowledge) and secondary sources (sources written after the time period, typically by a historian).

Students must acknowledge all sources used in the development of the project in the Annotated Bibliography in order to avoid plagiarism.

Include all sources that contributed useful information, perspectives, or visuals. Annotations may explain why students placed the source as primary/secondary if it is not immediately obvious; and, in the case of web sources, note its credibility. Bundle photos or other materials from the same collection into a single citation. Cite oral history transcripts, questionnaires, or other supplementary materials in the bibliography—do not provide copies of them.

The Summary Statement provides the project’s thesis, a summary of the argument, and information about the development of the project. The form is available on the History Fair website.

Except for websites, where the Summary Statement and Annotated Bibliography should be printed on plain, white paper and stapled together and brought to the event with the project. The Annotated Bibliography and Summary Statement are not included in the word count.


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