Iowa students to participate in National History Day state competition

For immediate release April 24, 2008


Contact: Jeff Morgan,, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) –About 800 Iowa students will converge at the State Historical Building Monday, April 28, and May 5, 2008, to compete in the National History Day state competition and earn a trip to the national competition at the University of Maryland.

National History Day is an academic-enrichment program that helps students learn about historical issues, ideas, people and events. The year-long academic adventure fosters students’ enthusiasm for learning and encourages them to use primary, secondary, community and statewide resources on a subject of their choice related to an annual theme. The theme for 2008 is “Conflict & Compromise in History.”

“This year, we had nearly 4,000 students competing in district competitions, with about 800 of them moving on to Des Moines for the state junior and senior division contests,” said Cyndi Pederson, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “From that pool, 50 to 60 will be selected to attend the national event in June at the University of Maryland.”

Working individually or collaboratively in groups of two to five, students compete in a variety of categories, including papers, Web sites, and individual and group exhibits, documentaries and performances. Students in grades 6-8 compete in the junior division while students in grades 9-12 compete in the senior division. Students in grades 4-5 may participate in the noncompetitive Iowa Youth Division.

The junior division state finals are scheduled for Monday and the senior division state finals will be May 5, both at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. State winners earn the right to compete in the national finals June 15-19, 2008, at the University of Maryland.

Last year, 18 Iowa students earned national rankings and four others were recognized with special awards and a scholarship. Caitlin Hillyard and Amelia Browning of Central Academy in Des Moines took first place for their senior group performance.

In 2006, Stephen Frese of Marshalltown received the Grand Prize at the National History Day awards ceremony – a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, valued at more than $100,000.

NHD events in Iowa will include a gala 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 16, 2008, at the State Historical Building. Teachers, administrators and friends of history are invited to preview the Iowa projects that will advance to the national contest. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served in the atrium. Reservations are $18 per person and can be made by contacting Millie Frese at 515-281-6860 or

NHD in Iowa program has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa since 1994 and is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Iowa, State Historical Society, Inc., American Legion of Iowa Foundations, Oberman-Beck Foundation and the Polk County Historical Society. More information about NHD in Iowa is available at or by contacting Millie Frese at 515-281-6860 or


 The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.


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