HSP Resources for The Theme

Home HSP Resources for The Theme

HSP Resources for The Theme


Historical Society of Pennsylvania has wonderful resources to research the National History Day theme Rights and Responsibilities in History.

We live in a Nation founded in rights--rights affirmed by the Declaration, outlined in the Constitution, and cherished by every American.  However, do we often stop to ask ourselves what our rights are?  Do we ever consider what are our responsibilities to ensure our rights? And, even more, what is the government’s responsibility? What is the government’s right?

This year’s National History Day topic allows us to explore these questions through the past.  The resources available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania are a wonderful source of help for individuals in researching this year’s topic.  To assist you in your research, we have broken down the topic into four parts; the three phases of Rights and Responsibilities in American history (establish, extend and restrict) and subjects related to America in the World. 

These topic guides were created by Beneficial National History Day Fellow Karalyn McGrorty-Derstine.


 Our Nation was founded on principles--philosophies individuals had dreamed and penned but never put into action. Ideals of equality and self government used to create a nation.  Unfortunately, the rights were exclusive to a few. 

Founding of Pennsylvania

John Dickinson and the New Nation

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights


From its establishment, our Nation has struggled with including all people.   Individuals have worked tirelessly to include everyone in the promises of our Nation’s founding.   This section explores moments in our Nation’s history in which individuals and movements have pushed our Nation towards fulfillment of its fundamental values, its core ideals.

Shay’s Rebellion

Abolition in America

William Still and the Underground Railroad

Octavius Catto

The Reconstruction Amendments

Native American Rights


Desegregation and Integration in American Education


Black Panthers

Women’s Rights: From Suffrage to Roe v Wade and beyond


There are groups, actions and laws that have put limitations on us, restrictions that threaten our rights.   This section explores moments in our Nation’s history in which rights have been limited and the reaction of the people to these threats to our rights.

Whiskey Rebellion

Alien and Sedition Acts

Trail of Tears

Bible Riots

Fugitive Slave Act

Dred Scott

Black Codes

Ku Klux Klan

Dawes Act


Japanese-American Interment

House Un-American Activities Commission

Red Scare

America in the World

This section explores International  topics supported by the resources of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

Barbary Coast Pirates

British Abolition Movement: William Wilberforce

British Abolition Movement: Thomas Clarkson

Haitian Revolution

Afghan Revolution

Nanking Massacre

The Armenian Genocide

World War II

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

The Holocaust

Cold War




Beneficial Bank generously supports the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s involvement in National History Day, including support for a summer Beneficial NHD Teacher Fellow and the NHD Fall Kick-Off.