If you happened to be in Coffman Memorial Union on Saturday, April 22, you saw a building teeming with more than 800 students in grades six through 12, from 92 schools across the state of Minnesota, accompanied by parents, grandparents, siblings and other supporters.
Why were they there? They were there for National History Day in Minnesota: a co-curricular program for students in grades six through 12, focusing on historical research and analysis about a topic of their choosing. Students competed as individuals or in groups in several categories, including performance, website, documentary, exhibit, and research paper for a chance to represent Minnesota at National History Day later this summer. Due to COVID this was the first time that National History Day in Minnesota, aka State History Day, was held on campus since 2019.
The University of Minnesota has a long history with History Day that began more than 25 years ago in the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts. The Libraries is a key History Day partner, offering several types of assistance to students from around the state. This assistance includes field trips to the Twin Cities campus, “Gopherbaloos” (a research open house hosted at Wilson Library), and support for students who are state qualifiers.
More than 1,100 students have engaged with the University Libraries, our staff, and our resources from across the state leading up to State History Day. As a person whose day job includes supporting public engagement within the College of Liberal Arts (including History Day), I am very proud that our library plays a huge role in supporting History Day, the students who participate, and their teachers. As a result of the Libraries’ ongoing support, thousands of students every year learn valuable skills such as how to conduct in-depth research and analyze and synthesize information. Additionally these students, their parents, guardians, and teachers know that the University of Minnesota Libraries is a resource for them and when students use our libraries, it can help some of them envision themselves as a future student here.
—Amelious N. Whyte, Jr. Ph.D. Chair, Friends Board of Directors
P.S. National History Day is always looking for judges. Visit the Judges website for more information and mark your calendar to sign up in December 2023.