Every year in April, students across the state, from grades 4-12, embark on a research project for Utah History Day, part of the larger National History Day contest. Students choose a historical topic related to the annual theme, and then conduct primary and secondary research in libraries, archives, and museums. The final projects are presented in one of five ways: an exhibit, documentary, performance, paper, or website. The 2021-2022 theme was Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences. Themes are chosen for broad application to world, national, or state history so that each student can find a topic that piques their interest.
History in Government Prize
As a repository that holds millions of primary records, the Utah State Archives and Records Service Division loves to participate in Utah History Day! We sponsor a special History in Government prize, which looks to highlight projects that relate to local, state, or federal government policies and political leaders. This year we had 87 nominations – a record number of projects to review! The group of staff members that comprised this year’s judging team were very impressed with the submissions. In the end, two projects took home top honors and the award of a $100 prize.
Religious Freedom in America: Under God, Under Debate
The winner of the History in Government prize for the Senior Division is a Historical Exhibit by Mariah George titled “Religious Freedom in America: Under God, Under Debate”. This well-researched project explores the 1954 Congressional Joint Resolution amending the United States Flag Code to add the words, “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. George touches upon the founding of America, looks into the origins of the Pledge, and the sermon, “A New Birth of Freedom,” that inspired President Eisenhower to urge Congress to incorporate the phrase. Her research puts on display the ongoing diplomacy regarding the separation of church and state.
The Debate On Mass Surveillance In The US: Is It Really Legal?
The winner of the History in Government prize for the Junior Division is a Historical Paper by Ava Cordova. The essay, titled “The Debate On Mass Surveillance In The US: Is It Really Legal?,” argues that mass surveillance violates a person’s privacy. Cordova reviews the beginnings of the NSA, explains the effects of 9/11 on legislation and public opinion, and analyzes the fallout from Edward Snowden revealing classified documents. She had an impressive bibliography that included many primary sources as well as a number of secondary sources.
Congratulations to all the winners! We look forward to many more successful years of projects with Utah History Day!