Each year the Department of History Education, University of Education, Winneba, sets aside a day in commemorating the independence celebration of Ghana, by way of the Ghana National History Day (GNHD) celebration. As Ghanaians remember their independence, the National History Day event is a call to all that our History is very important and should not be disregarded or forgotten. It is only in remembering the past that we can move ahead as a nation. The motive behind the creation of GNHD is to instill and inculcate the love for history learning and researching by encouraging thousands of students, teachers and other history enthusiasts to participate in a history contest. The premise is built on the idea that history making is something active, relevant and universally appealing.  Despite the name “Ghana National History Day”, the project is an all-year-round one which begins with workshops to train and prepare participants for the final contest.


Thus, GNHD is an opportunity for all to learn about and do history by exploring, examining and sharing one’s history. There is a real need to document most of the histories of Ghana, which unfortunately have not been written down. GHND caters to this need.  It provides the platform for people to record the histories of communities, individuals and historical events and sharing it with the rest of the world. The theme for this year’s GNHD celebration is ‘Taking a Stand in History’. Participants must select a topic of interest that is related to the theme and research on the topic; develop a research question and a thesis statement. Participants have the option of presenting their research findings in exhibits, original papers, performances, historical documentary and historical website formats. These products are entered into competitions where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators and consequently presented and awarded on the history day occasion that climaxes the GNHD celebration.

GNHD 2017 Theme: Taking a Stand in History

Taking a stand for something means acting to support a cause for which you believe.  It means taking the risk and doing the hard work to make a belief become a reality.   Author Salman Rusdie (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/salmanrush580405.html) asks: “Do we make history, or does history make us? Do we shape the world, or are we just shaped by it?”  He questions if we have agency and can shape the events around our lives or are we simply “passive victims” of circumstances.  GNHD promotes the idea that people are the makers of history, and we see this happening all around us; from student demonstrating to women demanding education to local leaders bringing change to the community to national figures leading reforms. People taking a stand, is what has made Ghana a great nation.  This year, Ghana National History Day is focusing on remembering the people, ideas and events that reflect a stand taken for a cause.  The theme Taking a Stand in History can relate to world, national, and local issues.  

In Ghana, Founders Day is to observe the assiduous efforts of Ghana’s leaders who took a stand in driving Ghana towards Independence. Kwame Nkrumah was a prime mover of Ghana’s struggle for independence.  When he declared “self-government now”, he took a stand that was courageous and hastened the nation’s independence.  In 1900, Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother of Ejisu, took a stand against British domination.  Today, she is remembered as a brave warrior who took a stand against the conquest of her people. Again, in the 20th Century, Kobina Sekyi took a stand against the adaptation of European culture to the detriment of the Ghanaian Culture. He did this through intellectual writing of books such as The Blinkards (1974), a satirical play.

These are just three examples of individuals who took a stand for a cause. It will be an error to think that these great icons stood alone in their achievements.  There are several others who played diverse roles in making this come to pass; they also took a stand for these causes. For instance in the lead up to Ghana’s independence, several students and educators went on strike to protest the arrest of the Big Six in 1948. As a result a large number of students and teachers were expelled from their institutions. These students and educationists took a stand against the colonial government, and in the end, it contributed to the attainment of Ghana’s independence.

Also, throughout history, many groups of people have taken a stand together. In 1919, the first industrial strike action took place in Ghana by the country’s miners. This paved way for other successful strikes and protests by workers and consequently organizations and workers’ unions were formed.

We encourage you to seriously consider local topics, which have rarely been investigated. Does the history of your town indicate that some people took a stand for or against a cause? This could be a stand taken against female genital mutilation or a stand taken to encourage more girls to go to school or a stand taken to get the youth involved in learning a craft; the list goes on.

To appreciate the historical relevance of whatever topic you choose, questions must be examined.  For instance:

  • Context
    • (Place) How does the setting play a role in the stance taken?
    • (Time) How does the time period play a role in the stance taken?
  • Circumstances/Why
    • What were the conditions that led to the person(s) taking the stand?
    • Why did they take the stance?
  • Background
    • Whose shoulders/what ideas did the people taking a stance use?
  • Assistance
    • Who else was involved? How did they help or hinder the cause?
  • How
    • How did the person(s) take a stand?
  • Influence/Consequences
  • What did this stance lead to?  What changes did it help bring about? How might this stance influence the future?

It is worth noting, taking a stand for or against a cause can be done in various ways.  It could be done through engaging in an act of war, living a certain lifestyle, adopting a certain philosophy or using a certain strategy.In examining any person, group, event or idea related to the theme, one must also know that taking a stand could result in a change, a consequence or loss. Most people who have taken a stand have caused a change in the course of History. However, change could be immediate or long term, great or small, positive or negative. There are also unintended consequence(s) of taking a stand, which may include financial loss, time consumed, risk of mortality or the rise of enemies.  Whatever change(s) or consequence(s) which one finds during the research, it must be evaluated or analyzed to find out how this change had or has significance now or the future.      


Because the idea behind GNHD is to involve everyone interested in doing history, the contest has been divided into three categories:

  • Senior High School (SHS) – for senior high school students
  • Tertiary – for college and undergraduate university students
  • General Public – for anyone who does not fit in either of the above categories

Choosing a topic

When thinking of a topic for GNHD, you should be able to make a case for how it connects to any part or this year’s entire theme: Taking a Stand in History. You should also decide on a specific topic for which primary and secondary resources are available. Extensive research can be done through primary and secondary sources mainly through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. The smaller and more local the topic, the more possibility of finding resources and writing a paper or creating an exhibit, a performance, a historical documentary or a historical website that you are able to present clearly. Below are few themes that can help you select the topic of your interest.  

Taking a Standing for/Against:


  1. Girls Education
  2. Women in Leadership
  3. Female Genital Mutilation
  4. Women’s Right/Childs Right/Human Rights
  5. Women in Independence Struggle
  6. Domestic Violence


  1. Farming/New Crops/New Practices
  2. Worker’s Rights
  3. Child Labour
  4. Taxation
  5. Workers’ Union
  6. Trade
  7. Land Bills/Forest Bills
  8. Adopting New Technology


  1. A School/Education
  2. A Project
  3. A Chief
  4. A House of Worship
  5. School Feeding Programme
  6. Exile of Chiefs


  1. A Political Leader
  2. Colonial Rule
  3. Terrorism
  4. Nationalism
  5. Slavery
  6. Independence
  7. Apartheid
  8. Integrating New Forms of Communication
  9. A Local Conflict
  10. Demonstrations / Protests
  11. Court Cases
  12. Enactment of Laws


  1. Integration of Other Culture(s)
  2. Migration
  3. Fashion
  4. Segregation
  5. Marriage/Integration
  6. Separation of Church from School
  7. Equality
  8. Arts
  9. Memorials / Shrines


You will see on the next page a flow chart for Ghana National History Day.   Your first task is to decide if you want to work as an individual or a group.   A group consists of 2-5 people.   Then you have to choose a topic that sparks your interest and for which you have a passion.  

STEPS ONE and TWO:  After you have a preliminary topic, you will conduct some research and develop a research question and preliminary thesis.  After you research about the question, you will develop a thesis.  

STEP THREE:  Conduct more research and remember to keep all of your notes.   You should write a citation (where the information comes from) on a notecard or piece of paper with page numbers.   Then summarize what information you have. 

REMEMBER:   Do not just copy information; do not plagiarize.   Take notes in your own words.   If you see an important quote that you might want to use in your exhibit, paper, or performance, remember to write it down exactly and make sure you have the page number and author and source (book).    You do have to keep track of your sources of information (historical documents like speeches, essays, etc and books, articles, photographs, maps, web pages, newspapers etc.).   The style you use for writing citations must be consistent throughout your paper.

Here are examples of book citations for BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Primary Source

Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock. New York:  David McKay Co, Inc, 1962.

Secondary Source

Buah, F.K. A History of Ghana.   Oxford, England: Macmillan Publishers, 1998.

Here is an example of a webpage citation:

Primary Source

Douglass, Frederick.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself.  Boston, 1845.   30 Jan 1997 gopher://gopher.vt.edu:10010/02/73/1.

STEP FOUR:  Prepare exhibit or performance (and practice, practice, practice the performance).   Prepare Process Paper for exhibit of performance.   Or write the historical paper.


  1. PAPER

A paper is the traditional form of presenting historical research.   It is more than a report of facts about a topic; a paper presents a point of view and a response to the research question you have asked.  The paper should represent your research, analysis, and interpretation of your topic’s significance in history.  For the paper, you do not have to write a process paper, but in the paper you should include how you did your research.  

The paper is between 1500-2500 words and requires the following parts:

  1. Introduction should include:
  • A brief description about how you chose the topic and did the research.
  • A clear statement about how your topic and question relates to this year’s theme for history day:  Exploration, Encounter and Exchange. (Note:  Your topic may relate to one of these more than the others).
  • A clear research question and thesis statement.
  1. A clear organization of ideas and supporting evidence, including the impacts of the particular topic you have chosen and WHY and HOW those impacts occurred.   This demonstrates analysis and interpretation and places the topic in historical context.
  2. A conclusion in which you restate the thesis, summarize the most important points and provide a final statement about your topic.
  3. Quoted material should be in quotation marks or indented and should include the source and page number.    REMEMBER:   WRITE everything else in your own words; do not copy.
  4. You can include photographs, maps or timelines in the paper to help the person reading your paper understand the historical context and you will have a balanced set of research sources.   These also indicate to the reader that you have used available primary sources, you have research that is balanced, and you have placed the topic in its historical context.
  5. The footnotes or endnotes in the paper demonstrate use of primary and secondary sources, and they follow a consistent style throughout the paper.
  6. At the end of the paper, you should write a bibliography.   The bibliography should divide the sources (books, articles, photographs, artifacts, maps, etc) into Primary Sources and Secondary Sources.  
  7. The paper should have a title page with student name, topic, date, and word count of the entire paper (1500-2500 words).


An exhibit is a visual representation of your research and interpretation of your topic’s significance in history.   The analysis and interpretation of your topic must be clear and evident to the viewer.   Labels and captions (for photos, maps, timelines, etc.) should be used creatively with visual images and objects (that represent artifacts) to enhance the message (the thesis) of your exhibit.   A PROCESS PAPER and REFERENCE LIST are required (see below).

The exhibit should include the following:

1.   SIZE for project boards:  no larger 100 cm wide, 75 cm deep, and 1.5 meters high.   Exhibits can also be circular and no larger than 75 cm. in diameter.


  • 500 WORDS maximum for student-created words (captions, labels, timelines, etc.).   The 500 words should also demonstrate how the topic is related to the theme.
  • This word limit does not include quotes that are used to enhance the exhibit, but there should not be an overuse of quotes.
  • All factual “credits” (quotes or sources) are not counted in 500 words.


  • The exhibit board should NOT be crowded with too much information.   All written materials should be original, clear, appropriate, and organized
  • Usually at the top of the center of the three-part exhibit board is the TOPIC and THESIS.   Otherwise, the research question could also be included.   The exhibit’s message should read from left to right; quite possibly this is best divided into three sections:  before (what preceded the event or topic about which you are writing), during (what happened and WHY did it happen) and after (impact or results).   The entire board should demonstrate analysis and interpretation.  
  • The organization of the exhibit and a timeline usually help the viewer to understand the historical context.
  • Quotes, photographs and maps from the period may indicate use of available primary sources.


  • Choose colors and design elements carefully that may enhance your topic.   Maintain consistency of use.
  • Choose artifacts (or copies of artifacts that can be considered primary sources) that tell a story.


A performance is a dramatic portrayal of your topic’s significance in history and must be an original production.   After your research, you choose characters who are important for presenting the story, and you write a script based on your chosen topic.   The performance should have dramatic appeal, but most important is the historical significance and information. A PROCESS PAPER and REFERENCE LIST are required (see below).

The performance should include the following:

  1. TIME:   No longer than 10 minutes.   You are allowed 5 additional minutes to set up and 5 additional minutes to remove any props or equipment.   Announce the title of your entry and the participants, but no other announcements are allowed.
  2. SCRIPT:   The script must be original and historically accurate.   This is NOT historical fiction.   The script must demonstrate that:
  • There is a THESIS that is implicit in the performance and script.
  • You have done the research and analyzed and interpreted the topic.  The performance must demonstrate the significance of the topic and draw conclusions (thesis about why this particular topic is important and what were the results/impacts)
  • You have placed the topic in historical context (either by narrator words or the actual script).
  • You have done wide and balanced research and you can dramatize the impacts or results of the question you have raised.
  • You have used primary sources by including quotes in the script that were written or spoken by the characters.
  • The topic is related to the theme.
  1. ORIGINALITY:   The presentation is original, clear, organized and articulate.   Only those persons who are performers may operate any equipment you use in the performance (tape, video, lights, computer)
  2. When writing a script, that is for the benefit of the performers and the coach or teacher, but it is NOT included with materials for the judging.
  3. COSTUMES:  should be simple and must be designed by the performers.
  4. STAGE PRESENCE: The performers must show good stage presence.  Costumes and props help to convey the thesis and are historically accurate.



A historical documentary is an audio-visual presentation of your research and how it connects to the theme. Like all other historical research, it must be an original production; you must indicate in this film, what your story is, what argument (s) you are making (thesis statement), and why your story is relevant in history.  A historical documentary would require the use of technology such as a camera, computer and a recorder. A PROCESS PAPER and REFERENCE LIST are required (see below).

The historical documentary should include the following:

  1. TIME: No longer than 10 minutes. Your 10 minutes starts immediately the first sound or visual is heard or seen when your documentary starts showing. Anytime that is used to set up equipment shall not be counted.
  • Individual project: The video must include primary and secondary sources only. No third parties are allowed. If you have to interview someone, only you and the person can appear in the video (i.e. if you have been permitted by them to show a video of them being interviewed. For instance you cannot invite a friend to interview the person while you take the video; the video must show you interviewing your resource person. Also for audio, you must be the narrator at all times, unless you are playing a recording, which is a primary or secondary source material.
  • Group project: As a group the advantage is that, you can do a reenactment of an event, however, only group members can partake in this. Also only group members can take turn to narrate the script for the documentary.
  1. CREDITS: Your documentary must have an Opening Credits and Closing Credits. The Opening Credits must show the title of the documentary and the name of the student (s) who made it. The Closing Credits must indicate the sources used in your documentary. It must indicate in order:
  • Producer and Editor
  • Narrator
  • Voice of (Insert Name Hear) by (insert name of group member/your name if its you or an individual project)
  • Original interviews conducted with (list name (s) of anyone you interviewed for your documentary)
  • Other interviews taken from (list interviews taken from other documentaries/oral history projects/news reports etc)
  • Filmed on location (list venues of filming)
  • Photographs provided by (list names of archives or institutions where you obtained primary sources)
  • Music taken from (mention the source of your music) – if the music was created by you then indicate (Original Music taken from…)
  • Special thanks (list the important people or organizations that helped to create your documentary).
  1. COPYRIGHT/PLAGIARISM: Your documentary can use pictures, films, video clips, audio clips, newspapers, oral histories, maps, pre-recorded interviews, paintings, television, radio broadcasts, political cartoons, background music and graphic presentation. These can be from primary and secondary sources. However, the sources of these resources must be fully acknowledged. Apart from that, the use of other people’s resources means that your product can only be shown within GNHD contests and not for public viewing to raise income. Word-for-word narration of another person’s documentary is not allowed; that is plagiarism.
  2. ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY: You must submit along with your historical documentary, an annotated bibliography.



A historical website refers to an original collection of webpages that are connected with hyperlinks (a text or graphic in an electronic document such as a webpage, that can be activated to display another document or trigger an action) that indicate your research findings. Your website must indicate your historical analysis of the your topic and the connection to the theme. Your argument(s) (i.e. your thesis), the rationale and evidence you have found to support it. You can do this by using both textual and non-textual description, interpretation and multimedia sources. You can consider using a website if you find a lot of not-text materials such as photographs, documents, timelines, maps, illustrations, newspaper articles, statistical data, graphs, video, audio recordings. A PROCESS PAPER and REFERENCE LIST are required (see below).

The historical website should include the following:

  1. WORDS ON WEBPAGE: 1200 WORDS maximum for student-created words (captions, labels, timelines, etc.).   The 1200 words should also demonstrate how the topic is related to the theme. This word limit does not include primary sources such as quotes, oral history interviews, letters, and diaries that are used to enhance the website, but there should not be an overuse of quotes. All factual “credits” (quotes or sources) are not counted in the 1200 words. Since you are working within 1200 words you might want to just be precise and concise and write the main ideas only.
  2. HOMEPAGE: This is where everybody goes to immediately they enter your web address and therefore, it must show exactly what your website is all about, i.e. an introduction to your project. Since this is the means of presenting your research findings, your homepage must indicate clearly your name (s), topic and your thesis statement and argument). You must also include a menu. The menu can include the background, context, circumstances/why, assistance, how, influences/consequences and any other themes you may have.
  3. MAIN TITLE: Your main title/topic becomes your headline or title of your website. It must appear on each page of your website. However it must appear bolder on your home page than other menu pages so that it would not take precedence over the themes on the other pages.
  4. CREDITS: You must credit the sources of all information and resources both on the website and in your annotated bibliography.
  5. ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY: You must submit along with your historical documentary, an annotated bibliography.


All the categories (except paper) require a process paper of no longer than 500 words (about two pages double-spaced).   The process paper needs to include these sections.

  1. How you chose your topic, including how you might have “narrowed down” your topic to a manageable topic.
  2. How does your topic relate to the theme of the year?
  3. How did you conduct your research?   Specifically:
    1. Where did you get the sources for your topic:  books, papers, maps, articles, photos, historical documents, etc. that you USED in the exhibit or performance?
    2. How did you go about analyzing the sources?
    3. What research was most useful to you?
    4. What did you learn about doing historical research (“doing history”)?  
  4. (Answer only if you were in a group) How did you organize the tasks of research and the tasks of producing the exhibit or performance?   What helped you to complete the project?


All categories require a reference list (or a bibliography) citing the sources used in the project. 

  1. The Reference List should be written on a separate page of paper.
  2. The following information should be given for each source: Author’s name (Surname, First name), Date published, Title of Article/ Chapter, Title of Book/Journal, City and Name of Publisher, Volume/Number/Pages (if a journal), URL (if an Internet source).
  3. The sources should be listed in alphabetical order according to the authors’ surname.
  4. See Chicago Manual of Style, APA, or MLA for referencing styles.  Any of these styles are acceptable as long as you follow it consistently.
Type of Work: