By Amanda Fellmeth, Intern and Kate Melchior, Education
As the State Affiliates for Massachusetts History Day, Mass Historical and the Center for the Teaching of History are excited to celebrate the incredible work of young historians across the state. From over 5,000 students competing at the school level to the 63 students advancing to the 2018 National History Day Competition outside Washington D.C. this June, a fabulous group of young people across the state have actively engaged in the research and re-telling of a broad range of historical topics.
National History Day is a year-long, primary source-based research project for students in grades 6-12 that encourages exploration of local, state, national, and world history. The competition takes place in two divisions (Junior (Grades 6-8) and Senior (Grades 9-12). The students present their research within the format of five different categories: Research Paper, Exhibit, Performance, Documentary, or Website, and can choose to participate individually or as part of a group. This year’s theme is “Conflict and Compromise”, and students worked with educators, archivists, librarians, and historians all over the state to research their chosen subjects in this theme. The diverse array of student topics this year included:
- – “Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Vilifying Women During the Conflict in Salem”
- – “The Flapper Story: A History of Lesbian Development, Modern Feminism and Gender Roles in the 1920s”
- – “A Cloying Compromise: The Story of the Hawaiian Annexation”
- – “Murky Past, Clean Future: The Clean Air Act of 1970”
Mass History Day will also be celebrating student work in a celebration of the life of Frederick Douglass next month! In honor of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial, MHS and Mass History Day teamed up with Mass Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Primary Source to offer special student awards, school scholarships, and teacher stipends for works that illuminate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass. Students will present their projects and have the chance to speak with noted Douglass scholars David Blight of Yale University, Lois Brown of Wesleyan University, and John Stauffer of Harvard University at the Mass History Day Frederick Douglass Bicentennial on 2 June. For more information on the program and how to attend, visit the Mass Humanities website.
Massachusetts History Day is one of the rare programs that helps students refine critical thinking and research skills used in all subject areas. This competition gives students an opportunity to dive deep and truly engage with primary resources, an experience that not only helps to build their appreciation for history and the importance of research societies and libraries, but gives them valuable practice in higher education-type research. The format of the projects and the flexibility in research topics also allows students to play to their own strengths and interests. These types of activities also help students bring their education outside the classroom and engage with students, historians, and enthusiasts from all over the nation. Mass Historical and Mass History Day are proud of our 2018 participants and excited to watch the next generation of historians in action!