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February 17, 2012

National History Day’s CWRU Origins

Earlier this week President Obama awarded the National Humanities Medal to National History Day, an organization that fosters historical research by students in grades 6 through 12. As archivists, we’re happy to see any history program receive such a prestigious award. But as Case Western Reserve University archivists, we’re even prouder since History Day began at Case Western Reserve University. History Day’s origins and development are well-documented in the University Archives.

Brochures, correspondence, reports, photographs, and news releases and clippings document planning at the local, state, and national levels. Annual contest themes and results are documented as well as milestones in the program’s development.

Planning for History Day began in 1973 as part of preparations for celebrating America’s bicentennial in 1976. The first program was on May 11, 1974 with the theme Ohio and the Promise of the American Revolution. David Van Tassel, Chairman of CWRU’s History Department, led the History Day effort. Besides CWRU, the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Greater Cleveland Bicentennial Commission, the Cleveland Area Arts Council, the Greater Cleveland Council of Social Studies, and the Diocesan Social Studies Teacher Association planned and sponsored the event.

Student exhibits were displayed in the ballroom of Thwing Hall on CWRU’s campus. The awards banquet was held at the Western Reserve Historical Society. More than 125 students produced essays, individual, and group projects, including a slide and tape show about the development of Euclid Avenue. Other topics researched were shipbuilding in Ohio, WPA art, the North Union Shakers, steel mills, Ohio’s wine industry, and Erie Canal locks.

HistoryDayWinner.jpg HistoryDayWinners.jpg

The three $100 first prize winners were Duncan Fuller of Cleveland Heights High School for his essay, “I-271 as a Social Divider,” Lisa Doull and Ann Horsbursh of Laurel’s Upper School for a slide and tape presentation on the North Union Shakers, and Chris Carnahan of Bedford High School for his portrayal of a Revolutionary War soldier.

By 2012 History Day had become an international program serving half a million students annually.

Posted by jmt3 at February 17, 2012 02:30 PM

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