2018–19 Suggested Topics

The examples below offer a starting point for brainstorming about topics related to this year’s National History Day (NHD) theme, "Triumph and Tragedy in History." Choosing one of these suggestions will not increase or decrease your chances of doing well at a National History Day contest.

Although you can select a topic dealing with any time or place in history, excellent subjects often are found by investigating local or statewide history. The availability of nearby scholars, firsthand informants, historic sites, and documents and records provides many research options, although your search for information about any topic should extend far and wide. Be sure to look at Research Resources on the FHD website for repositories in Florida. In addition, staff at the State Library and Archives of Florida have identified online resources in their collections that relate to Florida topics. You can visit the Library and Archives in person or access their collections online.

Florida Topics (compiled by FHD)

  • African American Voting Rights during Reconstruction: Battling for the Ballot
  • Alexander McGillivry: Ambassador of the Creek Nation
  • Andrew Jackson’s Invasion of Florida: Death Knell for the Native Population
  • Andrew Turnbull’s Ill-fated New Smyrna Settlement
  • Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: A Unique Figure in Florida’s History of Slavery
  • Arbuthnot and Ambrister: Traders or Traitors?
  • Battle of Okeechobee in the Second Seminole War: An Indecisive Outcome
  • Black Politicians during Florida’s Reconstruction
  • British East Floridians and the American Revolution
  • Buccaneer Robert Searles Plunders St. Augustine
  • Building the Tamiami Trail: Highway to Unhappiness for the Seminoles
  • Cabeza de Vaca’s Harrowing Journey through the Wilderness
  • Campaign to Save the Everglades
  • Challenger: Fateful Flight, Fortuitous Future
  • Chief Osceola: Defender of Seminole Rights
  • Courage Afloat: Caribbean Boat Refugees
  • Cross Florida Greenway: From Failed Canal to Environmental Showpiece
  • Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
  • Dr. John Gorrie and His Fantastic Ice Machine
  • Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune: A Legacy of Education
  • Eartha M. M. White: A Lifetime of Philanthropy
  • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA): Radicalized But Not Ratified
  • Florida East Coast Railroad: Opening Florida to Growth
  • Flagler’s Folly: Building the Overseas Railroad
  • Florida’s Black Seminoles: Story of Success or Sadness?
  • Florida Boom or Bust: Communities Planned and Lost
  • Florida’s Citrus Industry: Successes and Failures in a Changing Climate
  • Florida’s Convict Lease System and Its Bitter Effects
  • Florida’s First People: Resisting the Conquistadores
  • Florida Park Service: Born in the Depression
  • Florida’s Role in Doolittle’s Daring World War II Raid
  • Florida’s Shipbuilding in World War II: Triumph at Home, Tragedy Abroad
  • Fort Caroline: French Foothold in Florida, 1564–65
  • Fort Mose: Spanish Florida’s African American Bastion of Freedom
  • Fray Luis Cáncer de Barbastro, Advocate of Nonviolence
  • Freedman’s Bureau and Sharecropping: Slavery by Another Name
  • George Johnstone: West Florida’s Contentious British Governor
  • German POWs in Florida during World War II
  • Governor Harrison Reed: Leading Florida through Reconstruction
  • Hamilton Disston’s Fateful Effort to Reclaim the Everglades
  • Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore: The Price They Paid for Civil Rights Progress
  • Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda: Shipwrecked Captive of South Florida Indians
  • Jacksonville’s Great Fire of 1901
  • Jim Morrison’s Obscenity Trial: Road to a Sad End?
  • Labor Day Hurricane of 1935: Tragedy for WWI Veterans
  • Laws and Losses: Successes and Failures in Historic Preservation
  • Legislative Justice for the Rosewood Massacre Survivors
  • Maple Leaf Shipwreck: An Archaeological Triumph from a Civil War Tragedy
  • Massacre at Fort Matanzas: A Turn in the Tide of Florida History
  • Natural Bridge: The Civil War Battle that Saved Florida’s Capital
  • Operation Crossbow: World War II Rocket Testing in Florida
  • Pánfilo de Narváez’s Fateful Expedition in La Florida
  • Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge: Respite from Extinction for a Species
  • Polly Parker’s Escape from the Trail of Tears
  • Queen Anne’s War and the Destruction of the Florida Missions
  • Rise and Fall of Billie Bowlegs
  • Roebling’s “Alligator”: The Vehicle that Helped Win World War II
  • Scientists vs. Salvors: Protecting Florida’s Submerged History
  • Shipwreck and Survival of Jonathan Dickinson and His Family
  • Sir Francis Drake’s Attack on St. Augustine
  • Spanish Missions in North Florida: Tragedy and Triumph for the Apalachee People
  • Spanish Plate Fleets: An Empire’s Fortunes Shattered on Florida Reefs
  • Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956: Opening Steps in Florida’s Civil Rights Movement
  • The 1781 Victory of Bernardo de Gálvez at Pensacola
  • The 1816 Destruction of the Negro Fort on the Apalachicola River
  • The British Invasion of Spanish Florida, 1702 and 1704
  • The Hurricane of 1928: Devastation Leads to Change
  • The Johns Committee: A Tragedy for Civil Rights
  • The Ocklawaha and the Florida State Canal: A Tragedy Averted
  • The Seminole Wars: Both Triumph and Tragedy
  • The Storm Wreck: Colonial-era Legacy of the British Loyalists
  • The Works Progress Administration: From Poverty to Public Works
  • Tracking Natural Forces: Florida’s National Hurricane Center
  • Treaty of Payne’s Landing: Road to Exile for the Seminoles
  • Triumph and Tragedy at Cape Canaveral: Fifty Years of Florida’s Space Industry
  • Tristán de Luna’s Doomed Colonial Venture in Pensacola Bay
  • Unterseeboot: World War II Menace along Florida’s Coasts
  • William A. Bowles and the Establishment of the Muscogee Nation
  • Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1888: Toward a Healthier Future
  • Zora Neale Hurston’s Triumphant and Tragic Career

European History Sample Topics (compiled by NHD)

  • The Triumph of Gutenberg’s Printing Press
  • Nazi Art Looting During World War II
  • The Crusades: A Tragedy of Religious Proportion
  • The Battle of Bosworth Field: The End to the Wars of the Roses
  • Edict of Nantes: Triumph or Tragedy?
  • Triumph and Tragedy of the French Resistance in World War II
  • The Protestant Reformation and the European Wars of Religion
  • William Shakespeare: Triumph Through His Tragedies
  • Treaty of Versailles: Triumph or Tragedy?
  • Martin Luther, Pope Leo X, and the Reformation: The Triumph of Propaganda
  • The Marshall Plan: Economic Reconstruction of Europe
  • Isabella, Ferdinand, and the Spanish Reconquista
  • Galileo: The Tragic Consequences of Triumph in the Skies
  • The German U-Boats in the Battle of the Atlantic
  • The Great Fire of London: Rebuilding Act of 1667
  • The Easter Rising: The Triumphs and Tragedies of a Rebellion
  • King Charles I: A Tragic End for the Monarchy
  • Mary Queen of Scots and John Knox: Reformation in Scotland
  • The Founding of the European Union
  • King Henry VIII Versus the Catholic Church
  • The Division of Berlin After World War II
  • Thomas Cromwell: Suppression of Monasteries
  • Emmeline Pankhurst and Her Struggle for Suffrage in Great Britain
  • Catherine de’ Medici and the Huguenots
  • Neville Chamberlain: The Tragedy of Appeasement
  • Battle of Waterloo: New Beginnings from the End
  • Marco Polo: Economy of the Silk Road
  • Vincent Van Gogh: The Triumph and Tragedy of Genius
  • Christopher Columbus: Triumph or Tragedy?

World History Sample Topics (compiled by NHD)

  • Athens, Sparta, and the Battle of Marathon
  • The Shimabara Rebellion: Catholic Tragedy, Buddhist Triumph
  • Emperor Meiji’s Modernization of Japan
  • Spanish Influenza: The Tragedy of a Deadly Virus in Wartime
  • The Castle Hill Convict Rebellion: An Australian Tragedy
  • The Triumph and Tragedy of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria
  • The Partition of India: Triumph of Independence, Tragedy of Division
  • The Six-Day War
  • The Iran Hostage Crisis
  • Colonization: The French in Vietnam
  • The Crown Lands Acts of 1861: An Australian Tragedy
  • Emily Hobhouse and the Second Boer War Concentration Camps
  • Creation of the State of Israel
  • Philippine-American War
  • Cultural Revolution in China
  • Joseph Stalin and the Purge of Russia
  • Alexander the Great: Personal Triumph and Tragedy
  • Anwar Sadat: Struggle for Peace
  • South African Apartheid and the Division of a Nation
  • Saladin: Military Triumph During the Crusades
  • Genghis Khan: Cartography and Power
  • Chiune Sugihara: The Triumph of a World War II Japanese Diplomat
  • Triumph and Tragedy of King Tut’s Treasure
  • Akbar I: The Triumph of Unification
  • Arusha Accords of 1993: The Tragedy of Failure
  • Tragedy of Blood Diamonds, Triumph of the Kimberley Process
  • The Tragedy of Religious Conflict in 1980s Nigeria