That History Day Guy

March 19, 2008

Contest Season

Filed under: Uncategorized — historydayguy @ 5:37 pm

Last weekend was Elmira. There we saw growth in their contest at The Chemung Valley History Museum. This little Museum is one I dearly love. Big propos to the new Regional Coordinator Kerry Lippincott who put on her first contest. It was as if she had done it all her life. Good job Kerry!

 Did you know Mark Twain wrote many of his seminal works in Elmira? Did you know that Hal Roach, Little Rascals creator was from Elmira? Do you know there was a member of Admiral Robert Edwin Perry’s Expedition to the North Pole who was from Elmira? Did you know that next year’s Theme  is the Individual in History ?

This is to say (again people!) that doing local history is the way to go. I saw wonderful projects but I saw no exhibits on the Civil War Prison Camp, or the WW II prison camp that both were in Elmira. I saw no references to General Sullivan or others who could have been represented in this year’s theme. I guess kids are always excited by the biggies like Pearl Harbor or MLK because it is fresh and new to them. No matter where I go I see a Salem Witch Trials but nothing on local people using the enrollment act(sometimes entire communities)  paying for others to take their place on the role for the Union.

When I was in the classroom it was the same thing. A 100 Montgomery Bus Boycotts but only one on Tallahassee’s Boycott efforts. Students, teachers, and parents, I encourage you as you are at these wonderful institution (like Chemung) to take a second and look at your local history. Kids in Elmira have been beat to death with Samuel Clemons since Kindergarten, but take that on the road and I guarantee you will get attention!

Local history topics that show national and international impact are so often big winners and the most meaningful. They so often offer more in depth research opportunities, and students can make a personal tangible connection to history. A student in Horse Heads, New York can’t go down and sit in the 16th Avenue Baptist Church, but a child in Birmingham, Alabama, may have had a grandma who did and knew the families who suffered a tragic loss there. In this globally connected world we are often asked to go local. History is the same. Try the local flavor. You find it tastes best! 

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