Resources for National History Day 2017

By: Sherri Driscoll, Alamo Education Program Coordinator

Every year more than half a million middle and high school students participate in the National History Day Contest. This annual contest encourages students to conduct original research on historical topics of interest. Students choose a topic that relates to an annual theme and produce work that can be presented in many different formats. Projects can include documentaries, papers, performances and websites. This year’s History Day Theme is Taking a Stand in History.

Each year the Alamo Education Department receives numerous requests from teachers and students for assistance with History Day projects. From interviews to assistance in finding primary sources, the Alamo serves as a valuable resource for student researchers. This year’s theme lends itself to Alamo history perhaps more than in past years. Students who would like assistance with their projects should contact the Alamo Education Department at 210–225–1391 ext. 135 or email

Most students who have attended elementary or middle school in Texas are well aware of the famous “Line in the Sand” story from the Alamo battle. 4th and 7th grade Texas history lessons include reference to the Battle of the Alamo and Alamo Commander William B. Travis’ famous letter that left the Alamo by courier on February 24, 1836. In this letter Travis confirms that the garrison is willing to stay and fight despite overwhelming odds. His decision is spelled out in the letter. “If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — -Victory or Death. Perhaps no other event lends itself to the topic more than Travis’ decision to fight and die. The deaths of over 200 Alamo Defenders on March 6, 1836 is the ultimate example of Taking a Stand in History.

There are numerous online resources that students will find helpful when working on an Alamo related project. Here are some of our favorites!

The Alamo

Our website includes biographies of all of the 1836 Alamo defenders as well as a detailed chronology from the 1700s to the present day.

The Handbook of Texas

This online handbook from the Texas State Historical Association contains thousands of articles on all aspects of Texas history.

The Portal to Texas History

Created and hosted by the University of North Texas, the portal is a searchable database of over 782,000 primary sources that have been digitized from the collections of 343 partner institutions across Texas. You can search newspapers, maps, book, letter and more.

Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO)

Hosted by the University of Texas library system, TARO allows you to search finding aids for numerous archives, libraries and museums across Texas. Unlike the Portal to Texas History, most of these collections are not digitized, but this is a great resource to help identify archival material and plan research trips.

The Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Another resource from the Texas State Historical Association, this scholarly journal has been in publication since 1897 and is focused on publishing original research on Texas history topics.

The Second Flying Company of Alamo de Parras

This site contains resources for Alamo history from the mission period forward and all aspects of the Texas Revolution. Although there are a lot of good primary sources, maps and images on this site, the creator does not always properly cite sources, so be mindful when using this site.