Spotlight on National History Day

By April 10, 2020 April 15th, 2020 Newsletters
Archival image of workers changing shifts at Homestead Steel Works

Rivers of Steel Locally Supports National History Day Competition for Students

National History Day is a non-profit education organization based in College Park, Maryland.   Each year a theme is selected and more than a half million students from around the world research a topic of their choosing and create projects that illustrate that theme.  The 2020 competition theme is Breaking Barriers in History.  Middle school and high schools students may select a project submission format from the following categories: website, documentary, exhibit, performance, and historical papers.  Projects are created by individuals or as a group project.  Students are encouraged to utilize and interpret primary and secondary sources to support their thesis statement as it fits with the annual theme.

The process of creating a National History Day submission encourages students to critically think about historical events.  Students must utilize research and reading skills to convey analysis of their research topic.  Through the evolution of their projects, students gain a more in-depth understanding that historical events are influenced by many variables.

Heinz History Center facilitates the local competition and serves students from Allegheny, Washington, Greene Fayette, Westmoreland, and Somerset counties.  This year’s competition included additional challenges with the need to shift the judging rounds to an online format.  The local competition judging wrapped up last week and the judging decisions are listed here: https://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/education/national-history-day

Local competition winners receive constructive feedback from volunteer judges and have the opportunity to edit their project prior to the state competition.  This year’s state competition will also be judged via a virtual format and is set to take place in May.

National History Day is the perfect opportunity for students to utilize archival resources available at historical societies, libraries, museums, and universities.  Many of the archival pieces can be accessed in an online format and often include unique information such as personal letters, oral histories, and private collection photographs.

Rivers of Steel invites students to utilize our collection, whether it be for National History Day or for other research endeavors.  Highlights from our collection includes information on the following:

  • The 1892 Battle of Homestead
  • 1877 Great Railroad Strike (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 1909 Pressed Steel Car Strike (McKee’s Rocks, PA)
  • The Steel Strike of 1919 (The Hunkie Strike)
  • The Little Steel Strike of 1937
  • Social , health & welfare, and assimilation issues during industrialization
  • Closure of mills and worker displacement

To search Rivers of Steel’s online collection: https://riversofsteel.pastperfectonline.com/

For more information on National History Day https://www.nhd.org/

To learn more about volunteering next year as a judge for the local competition: nhd@heinzhistorycenter.org