Alaska History Day Needs Your Help!
We ask your help to recommend Alaska history topics related to the theme of this year’s competition— Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences. And if you can add accompanying source or archive or museum collection where students can research deeper, so much the better!
National History Day—known as Alaska History Day in the state—sprang from a program created by Case Western University professor David Van Tassel. He envisioned a history competition based on the science-fair model to encourage students to create a project that would take them through the process of research, analysis, drawing conclusions, and presenting their findings.
From those humble beginnings arose a national non-profit education program. Today’s NHD offers guidance and resources for teachers to strengthen their history curriculum. The competition, while engages a half a million middle and high school students around the world in researching historical topics over the course of the academic year. Hundreds of Alaska students participate through the coordination of the Alaska Humanities Forum (AHF).
Student projects can take the form of a documentary, exhibit, research paper, performance, or website; they can compete individually or as part of a group of up to five members. Students compete at local school district levels, and selected regional winners advance to the national contest. Due to continuing public-health concerns, this year’s competition will be conducted virtually.
The Alaska Historical Society (AHS) and the Cook Inlet Historical Society (CIHS) in conjunction with the AHF, see Alaska History Day as a perfect opportunity to build on their missions of promoting the study of Alaska and Alaska’s archives. They encourage students throughout the state to choose research topics on Alaska history for their projects.
What do you think is an important Alaska subject students should research? Topics can be cultural, economic, social, or political events or people that relate the history of Alaska with the theme of Debate and Diplomacy.
For example, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which was enacted 50 years ago, is a timely topic. Some sources of information for students about this act are online at:
In the library: A book written by William (Willie) Hensley, “What Rights to Land Have the Alaska Natives: The Primary Issue”
Another example is the U.S/Canada border dispute. Online at: https://sovereignlimits.com/blog/u-s-canada-border-history-disputes
We want to read your ideas! For some inspiration, check out this National History Day video on debate and diplomacy with Ken Burns.
Alaska History Day is an exciting and rewarding way to see young people discover the deeper stories behind the history in their textbooks. Your suggestions will be compiled and made available to social studies teachers across Alaska who are participating in the competition.
With your help, Alaska History Day will truly be about Alaska this year!