National History Day

A break from writing related topics to talk about something I'm truly passionate about: National History Day.

I have competed in National History Day since I was a sixth grader. However, it wasn't until I moved to Iowa (after seventh grade) that I began to realize how important History Day was. My eighth grade Humanities class required me to write and research a topic on the Civil War. My teacher wanted ten sources - only two could come from the Internet. Everyone complained. I knew how to do it. It was nothing.

My junior year paper on Oscar Wilde, went to Nationals with 108 sources, an interview with a professor who wrote a book on Oscar Wilde and some of the best writing I've ever done. My senior year paper on Jane Austen made third in the state of Iowa. It was succinct (word limit: 2,500 words) and well-written. I am a fiction writer, however, I am not ashamed to say my Jane Austen paper, entitled, "'Only a Novel?': Jane Austen's Innovations for the Romantic Novel", is my best written work.

But History Day has not just taught me to research and write papers. Although I'm so happy I have these skills for entering college, that's not it.

National competition involves competitors from every state, DoDDS-E, Shanghai, China, Guam, the American Samoa and and even some Canadians that sneak in through Shanghai. You get about 2,000 kids together who are passionate about history and some sparks fly.

History Day makes me take my learning into my own hands. I want to know all about how polio was eradicated? Fine, that will be my topic. Want to know why Oscar Wilde was thrown into prison (it was illegal to be gay at the time) I can research it. At History Day you chose topics that interest you and then you take off.

Not only are you making history personal to you, but you're also getting personal. I love the people part of history. I want to know, "What did they think? How did they overcome [insert event here]." I want to know about the people and their emotions. History Day allows me to do this. It lets me get close to the person, so to speak. I would have never known about what Roosevelt thought personally, of the United Nations, had I not done History Day. I wouldn't have known that Jane Austen was a snarky person.

History Day has taught me so much - to research, to ask questions, to write well, to find both sides of the story. It's taught me to be outgoing with finding what I need to find to answer those questions I have. It's taught me about thesis, teamwork and hard work.

However, History Day in Iowa is in a bit of a pickle. The major funder of National History Day in Iowa, has decided to drop their support. I ask, even if it's just your time, to help History Day. I wouldn't be the person I am without this program. One thing offered every competition are special awards. For example, my Jane Austen paper won the "Outstanding Entry in Literary History." If you're passionate about an aspect of history, consider giving a special award.

If anyone has any questions about History Day and what it is, either follow the link above (to the National History Day contest site) or comment a question. I'm more than willing to help out in whatever way I can.

Also, here below are links to donate to the National History Day contest and the National History Day in Iowa.

Why Support History Day? (National Contest)

Getting Involved (Iowa History Day)

I thank everyone ahead of time. You are the ones who will keep this amazing program alive.

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Brittany said...

I looveee the new template! I haven't heard of History Day before (sorry) but it sounds cool, something right up my ally. :) I wish I'd heard of it sooner so I could have done some of that stuff.

I think writers like history because of the stories. There's great stories in history, with real characters and conflict. It can teach you a thing or two about writing, and can definitely give you a few good story ideas.

Ann said...

Thanks Brittany!

If you're still in high school, by all means, try History Day out! I have connections like none-other and can get you set up with myself or the state coordinator for your state.

I definitely agree with you about writers loving history. I haven't met one that hates it yet.

Brittany said...

Er, it's not that I'm out of high school. I'm not in high school yet. :)

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