National History Day: Judging at the Baltimore City District Competition

Posted on March 8, 2018 by

This post was written by JMM Visitor Services Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!

373 history-loving students from 26 schools across Baltimore City worked steadily since September to research, revise, and design their projects for this year’s National History Day Competition. The National History Day Competition encourages students to conduct historical research on a topic of their choice and present it their research in one of five ways: a paper, an exhibit, a website, a performance or a documentary.

After months of hard work, students selected from their schools presented their projects for the theme “Conflict & Compromise in History” at the Baltimore City District Competition this past Saturday. I was happy to volunteer my time to be a judge for the day. I had the pleasure of judging middle school exhibits.

Volunteer judges receive our instructions, and coffee, before going to see the student’s projects. About 100 volunteers, over the past few months, donated their time to be judges for National History Day.

This year’s theme had students addressing conflict and compromise. There were numerous ways this theme could be interpreted. The lack of compromise could lead to a conflict. A conflict could be resolved by a compromise. A compromise could prevent a conflict from occurring. There could be all conflict and no compromise.

Student exhibits on display in Patterson High School’s cafeteria at Baltimore City’s National History Day Competition on March 3rd.

Student’s topics reflected how diverse this theme was. They moved beyond dates and names, and expressed opinions, interpreted, and analyzed events. They spoke about their inspirations for choice their topic and both the short-term and long-term impacts these topics had on communities. Some of the topics that I got to see included: Nutmeg for the Big Apple: How 17th Century Conflict and Compromise Shaped Modern New York City, Blackface: Is it Conflict?,  Galileo and Catholicism, Baltimore Riots, Women Changing the Newsroom, and We’re Not Tomboys, We’re Athletes.

Students used both primary and secondary sources to research their topics. Their displays contained quotes, photographs, maps, and graphics to interpret the theme.

At the Jewish Museum, we are also addressing this theme of conflict and compromise in our upcoming special exhibit Amending America: The Bill of Rights, on loan to us from the National Archives and Records Administration. This exhibit explores the origins of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and how Americans have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution throughout history. Seeking to amend the Constitution on topics such as expanding individual rights, voting rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ human and civil rights, are all issues that are directly connected to seeking compromise from a conflict.

Judging the students exhibits proved to be conflicting as they were all incredibly well done and very thoughtful. While it was difficult, winners for each category were selected. After the awards ceremony, I was left with an incredibly inspired by the passion for history that all of the students showed. Good luck to all of the students who are off to Maryland History Day on April 28th!

While the next National History Day Competition may be months away, please remember that the Jewish Museum of Maryland is an excellent resource for research on Jewish history and heritage. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out Amending America: The Bill of Rights on display from April 8th to May 28th.

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