National History Day Goes to Washington

Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana takes a selfie with Indiana National History Day
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Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana takes a selfie with Indiana National History Day participants

Chris Flynn/ NEH

(June 17, 2014)

National History Day finalists from across the country gathered this morning on Capitol Hill for a first-hand encounter with contemporary history-making, DC style.

Middle and high school students from around the country participating in this week’s 2014 National History Day competition joined the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for a celebratory breakfast before meeting with their respective state Congressional delegations on the Hill.

The students, hailing from California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Rhode Island, and Wyoming were all winners of regional and state competitions in the year-long National History Day program.

National History Day is a national academic program that engages 6th to 12th grade students in historical research. The program was recognized at the White House with a prestigious 2011 National Humanities Medal. Each year, more than half a million students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research to prepare original papers, websites, exhibits, performances, and documentaries for entry into local, state, and national History Day competitions. The program culminates in a national contest, which this year is being held from June 15-19 at the University of Maryland, focusing on the theme of “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”

Students and their history teachers were welcomed to the NEH-sponsored breakfast by Carole Watson, Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by Dr. Cathy Gorn, Executive Director of National History Day.  Two students presented their National History Day projects to Congressional staff.  Emma Roach-Barrette, a winner of the Kentucky state contest, showed her documentary on the 1973 Harlan Coal Strike while Megha Sharma, of Maryland, gave an individual performance on child labor practices in Baltimore during the Industrial Revolution.  Several students also brought their National History Day papers, exhibits, and websites with them in their trips around the Senate and House office buildings to show to members of Congress and their staffs.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has been a supporter of National History Day since the program began in 1965. NEH grants were instrumental in helping National History Day grow from a pilot start-up project in Ohio into a national program that now operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and in international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia. NEH sponsors sixteen National History Day awards for first place submissions across several categories, as well as a special Chronicling America prize for the best use in a student project of the NEH- and Library of Congress-supported Chronicling America historic newspaper database.

Congratulate the National History Day participants and follow the 2014 National History Day final competition online with the Twitter hashtags:  #NEHHistoryBuff and #NHD2014

Rep Mark Meadows of North Carolina, 11th District congratulates National History
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Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, 11th District, congratulates National History Day finalist