NLM in Focus

Taking a Stand–NLM Resources Help Students Prepare for National History Day

The National Library of Medicine is helping young historians discover its rich collections related to the National History Day 2017 theme, “Taking a Stand.”

Middle school and high school students throughout the US are preparing projects for History Day, which takes place throughout the school year, with the national finals held over several days—June 11-15, 2017, at the University of Maryland, College Park. Projects include papers, websites, documentaries, performances, and exhibitions.

Through NLM resources, students can discover individuals taking a stand for the inclusion of women and African Americans in medicine; for improved mental health care and for recognizing domestic violence as a serious health issue. They can also discover how individuals took stands on smoking, AIDS, and other health issues, and how the federal government took a stand against the mislabeling of foods and drugs sold to the public and helped standardize packing.

Students across the US–and around the world–can browse our online exhibitions, explore our digital collections, and search our catalog for inspiration and images to inform their research and public presentations. Spanning ten centuries–from the 11th to the 21st–the NLM collections contain a wealth of material that documents how researchers and others in medicine and the health sciences have taken a stand for health and against disease.

Women rally in City Hall Plaza in Boston to speak out against violence against women, August 26, 1976.

Every year National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for the broad application to world, national, or state history, and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past.

This year’s theme, “Taking a Stand in History,” provides an opportunity for students to push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates and engage historical content to develop new perspectives and understanding.

“We’re always delighted to share our rich collections and valuable resources with students who are engaged with National History Day, and who are interested in history every day. Our histories of tomorrow will be written by our students of today, so to support them in their research and discovery of the past is an important aspect of our present and future public service here at the NLM,” says Jeffrey S. Reznick, Ph.D., chief of NLM’s History of Medicine Division.


A clip from the 1968 documentary “A Way Out of the Wilderness” that describes the steps being taken by the Plymouth State Home and Training School in Northville, Michigan, to bring mentally retarded children out of isolation in bleak institutions and into the mainstream of life.