Question and Answer Session with 2017 National History Day Winners

[Chatter] Can you hear me on this mic? Oh good. That wasn’t too bad of a prop change.
So, first of all we have some gifts from the Truman Library. Right, that surprised you
didn’t it. So, this won’t surprise the scholars and teachers in the audience, but
we’re going to give you both a copy of David McCullough’s “Truman.” Seems very appropriate
(thank you) (clapping) and then I thought was fun, Vote For Truman bumper stickers.
I’m not sure if either of you are driving yet, (thank you) but you know Mom and Dad
might let you put it on the car too (everywhere). Ok let me get comfortable here. So, what
we are going to do is to just spend a few minutes asking a few questions. I have to
have my cheat sheet ready, you know Erin was able to memorize her performance, I couldn’t
memorize my questions. So, it shows you the scale of their research. I had more time.
You had more time? Yeah. Yeah, just a little. So, I know I keep saying congratulations,
but to both of you really congratulations. Thank you. Thank you so much. So just
a couple of things, just to open up the conversation then we can open it up to the public as well.
We have a couple of microphones at the end of the stage here in a few minutes if you
want to ask questions, you’d be welcome to do that. Just to start out because of these
amazing presentations; performance and the exhibit, I wonder if both of you, and you
touched a little on this already Hannah with your PowerPoint, but maybe just talk to us
about the layers of your research. How you went about researching your topic and kind
of what process you went through to do that. Maybe we’ll start with you Erin. Okay. And
then we’ll switch to Hannah. Yeah. So, my topic took place in the early 1900s of England
so I couldn’t fly out there all the time, but, so the internet was really helpful
for me because I had access to a lot of archives and a lot of sources online, including primary
sources which is really helpful. I ended up with, I think I started out on the UK Parliament
website and from the Cat and Mouse Act and I built from there. Sorry I’m dropping things.
But, yeah and so then I rented a lot of books from the library. It was interesting
too because even at the UMKC library they had a lot of books that weren’t in other
places and so that was good. So my sister goes to UMKC, so I used her as a resource.
(laugh) but I ended up buying a couple of books as well, but the majority of my research
took place online through newspapers articles, letters, and all sorts of stuff, yeah.
Very good. How about you Hannah? I did a lot of online research too.
My main goal was to find visually interesting resources so it would be fun to look at an
exhibit. So, I try to look for a big variety. I actually had to ability to go to the Eisenhower
Presidential Library in Kansas and he had a lot of resources available there because
he had a lot of quotes and passed a lot of important documents so I could use those resources
and then I used a lot of interviews with Karin Wagner and Robert Edsel and people like that.
And I hate to put a number on it but I’m going to ask it anyway, approximately
how many primary sources would you both say you had on your presentations? A lot.
A lot? Yeah. My annotated bibliography was 18 pages and I think there’s like 50
at least. Yeah, I probably similar number, yeah I, I lost count after a long time so
(laugh). So lots and lots of primary sources and lots of different types of sources right?
Well, the primary sources are so helpful too because I mean the secondary sources are great
but usually they’ll come from a more modern perspective and so with the primary sources,
it allows for more interpretation on your part so I think that’s why I had to focus
on those a bit. I had a primary resource, it was a book written by James Warmer
and he published it in 1945 and so very old and its not in print anymore and there were
only two of them in the United States. I was able to get one of them through interlibrary
loan and its one of my favorite sources. It was neat to hear his autobiography through
his journey through Europe and it was really beneficial to my research as well. So Hannah’s
answered my next question. So that’s always good. Was there any particular surprising
or cool source either of you found? And you Hannah half answered that. I kind
of talked about the Cat and Mouse Act a bit, but it was cool to see the actual document
because you could see that there was clearly lot of bias even in this historical document
and I thought that was interesting because I had previously assumed that they would you
know, try to keep a lot of bias out of it, but, nope, it was there. And it was great,
but yeah, and there was a lot of letters that were really helpful to me as well. And there was one book, and it wasn’t a primary source, but it was called “Suffragette
Sally” and it was really interesting as well. How about the particular category? As
I mentioned at the outset, students can do a website or a paper or an exhibit or a performance
or a paper. So why an exhibit? Um, you don’t
have to perform in front of people so that’s great. (laughter) Except tonight you do, expect
tonight. Yeah, I love scrapbooking, my mom scapbooks, so that kind of lends
me to pick that category. And I like to be creative with my hands so I’ve always just– it wasn’t a question, it wasn’t a hmm, “which category should I do?” It was a done deal. Alright. How about you Erin?
Um, I mean I’ve been doing theater since I was very young and so when I looked into
National History Day for the first time and there was a performance category, I never
even questioned it. And I love writing, too, which is really cool because you get to
write your script and it’s, I don’t know, it’s a very different experience from my
experience with the theater I’ve done because you’re embodying a historical figures and
so its up to you to do all the research that creates all that internal monologue and I
just found that really fascinating yeah. So I’m going to ask you both the
same question but it’s going to be a little bit different because of the formats you used.
So in terms of putting together your performance or together your exhibit. You have to think
about display and color scheme and props to a certain degree and how you’re going to
design your exhibit. For you for your performance, stitching that together and that English accent
that I recognized, right? (laughter) So talk to me about the accent and how do you develop
that as a performer and for you, Hannah when we come to your turn, talk to me about the
design scheme. You talked a little bit about the salt mine and the other things that went
into it. Lets do the accent first because I’m dying to hear it. (laugh) Oh, I’m so
scared now but, yeah so um– You don’t have to do that accent again. Okay that’s good. I wanted it to be historically accurate as much as possible and still be clear enough
to be understood and so with Edith Garrud its hard because since she was
a women of the time period although she was an influential historical figure, in my opinion,
there are not a lot of interviews with her, and I did find one. But, well I found written
interviews but there were not a lot of interviews that we still have access to today. But, um,
from what I heard, and what I researched about her life and where she moved and where she
was born I was sort of able to figure it out from there and she was of a similar class,
so, um she was a real historical figure but Florence was a fictional character who embodied
a realistic historical perspective from the time period and so there were many different
perspectives and she, of course Florence, was pro suffrage but against the use of militant
tactics to achieve it and so they were of a similar class but different ages so I wanted
to create a little bit of a distinction there. Very good. Um, with the exhibits, the
main challenge is that you have the 500 word limit and so that’s where telling
the story through quotes or through your images is really important, so I’m always looking
for documents that help me make my point without using any of my word limit. And whenever as
far as the design concepts, this year from the start I knew I wanted to make a salt mine. I just didn’t know how I was going to do that. And so I kind of revised it as I went
along in the competitions adding in more aspects to try to convey that idea. And another thing you consider with
the exhibits is you want people to be able to walk up and go and get a main idea really
quickly. And so over the years, creating my exhibits I’ve kind of figured out a system
of to put the thesis here and here’s how to logically transition it and still make
it interesting for the viewer. So that’s kind of what I think about while I’m designing
it. I should say I know the exhibits are out there for the reception, Hannah brought five
years of exhibits today, um so that was pretty cool (clapping). One thing that tells me is
that she’s really into cultural preservation exhibits. Yeah. And two, the transition you’ve
gone through in creating those exhibits. And you’ve both participated in the National
History Day before. And I kind of have inside knowledge about that. But, tell me why you,
why you would, I know in the past you’ve both placed in the top three previously in
the National History Day, I know this is both the first time you’ve finished first. But
why do it again? I mean you’ve already finished second or third in the previous years. Why
do it again? Why do it again? (laughter) That’s my question.
So I started competing in the junior division in my 7th grade year and this is
my third year. So I’ve competed in my 7th and 8th grade year, and then this year, so
there was a little bit of a gap in between. But, I always really enjoyed it and
I actually didn’t think I would ever place so that was really exciting. My 8th grade
year, I got second in the junior division for performance but after that I really wanted
to do it again. But I started high school and I was very busy and I didn’t know how
I could work it in. But then every year comes the time of the national competition
and you’re sitting there thinking “oh my gosh, they’re all there, and I just wish
I was there with them” because its such a cool experience to be surrounded by all
these people that are so interested in history because its so rare to find. And, I mean, you can go up– I’ve talked about it–You can go up to a random stranger and
be like, “Do you like Hamilton?” and the answer is likely going to be yes and so. And that’s
most teenage conversations, right? (laughter) (laughter) In my world. But I think there was a year or two where I wasn’t at the competition, it wasn’t even about winning or placing anymore, it was just I really wanted to experience
it again and I didn’t know if I would have another opportunity so I felt that this had
to be one of my last years that I did it. And its something that once you enter, its
hard to walk away from because its such an incredible experience. And how about you Hannah. Um, whenever I started participating in National History Day in eighth grade it
was required for one of my school assignments so that year I didn’t have a choice but
it was one of the most enjoyable times of middle school and whenever I went on to high
school and didn’t have that class offered anymore I decided to keep doing it outside
of school because I couldn’t imagine not participating. National History Day has given
me so many opportunities especially because I want to be a museum curator now, um, getting
to have my project in museums and talking to people in that field just that experience
you don’t want to turn up an opportunity, turn off an opportunity to do that and like
Erin said, its even as soon as I’d start to think “oh, maybe I wont have time to
do it this year, senior year, super busy,” I think what am I going to feel like on regionals
or state or Nationals and I’m not there, trying to compete, so I’ve always just had
to come back and do it. Now we have about approximately 50
teachers here tonight, maybe a few more than that actually, for them who might be thinking
about having their students getting involved in history day, what would you say were the
benefits of history day that their students could get from participating?
I need to give you a really long list, but oh gosh, there’s, oh wait, do I go first?
Yeah, sure, (chuckle) yeah you’re good, you’re the performer Erin, you get to go
first. (chuckle) I just keep talking, I am so sorry. Its okay. But oh my gosh, the benefits
are endless. I mean, okay first of all, for me at least, this fostered such an interest
in history that I didn’t know I had previously. I mean I was always interested in it in class,
but there aren’t a lot of opportunities to get involved, especially as a young person
and through this competition, it, I mean, it opened my eyes to so much regarding
our history and our future. And I reiterate this all the time but I think its so important
to look at our history because regardless of whatever you believe, if it’s that history
repeats itself or if it rhymes, there are always going to be patterns and so when we’re educating a group of young people, of young citizens and students we have to make sure
that we are teaching them what choices have been made and what choices we can make in
the future in order to better our society as a whole. And I think that this creates a
generation of not only historians, but of well-informed citizens that are going to be
able to actually go out and make a difference in our world. I want to pause, that was pretty good. [Applause] So for me, the benefits of National
History Day are so hard to count as well, just the opportunities because of my future
career, like those specific things, like getting to work, like having an internship at the
Truman Library or have my exhibits in museums and to meet people like that specifically
relates to me, but even just National History Day forces you to get outside your comfort
zone and I’ve so enjoyed getting to do that and like going in and researching in archives
or coming to the Truman Library and learning more about something you don’t know more
about and it’s just been a really great experience and I know its going to help you
a lot in college too. You learn how to research and how to write papers and how to talk to
people you don’t know and I’m just, there’s so many benefits, I could go on but. So I
have kind of a catch phrase for History Day that you may not have heard of, but I often
say History Day students often become the educators and do you think that’s true?
I mean have they educated you tonight? (murmurs of approval) Right, Erin chose a topic that
was pretty well unknown for 99% of the population. Although the monuments movie came out recently, I know Hannah had had that idea of doing that before the movie out but she really went depth,
in-depth on that topic when you wouldn’t have otherwise seen that knowledge and so
that phrase rings true for me. The students become the educators, they tell you about
things you may know something about, but they go in such great depth with their research
that you guys become the educators, which is what teachers want, right? So I think that’s
a really powerful statement. Just to wrap things up before we turn to the public to
ask their questions, maybe tell us your future plans. I know that you’re going to be going
into your senior year, but what are you thinking about after, after high school?
So I have a lot of plans that might change because I’m interested in a lot of
things, but I definitely want to go to college and study history and then possibly double
in international relations and then minor in theater, dance, physics or astronomy (laughter)
and then I would want to get a PhD in history and then ideally I would like to work for
the UN and then become a motivational speaker and then a professor and then like write all
this– (laughter) Does anybody doubt that that she would do all that? Oh no (laughter)
so yeah, it could change. So, you’re not very ambitious then? (Chuckle) That’s a
wonderful answer, how about you Hannah? So I’m going to be going to Truman
State University this fall and I want to be a museum curator, like I said, or something
similar in a museum field, and I’m also going to minor in history, er minor in Spanish
and major in history and then future plans also I want to stay involved in National History
Day so like I’ve told Mark and Maggie, I want to volunteer and eventually become a
judge in the contest and help to have other students have the same experience that I’ve
had with the program. Yeah, I should say that Hannah has been mentoring some of the students
in the middle schools in her school district, in Odessa, as part of that. And just to wrap
things up because, just because I was very very fortunate to be at the national award
ceremony and these two young ladies were sitting next to each other, yeah, (chuckle) yeah,
they were sitting next to each other in this huge basketball arena where the University
of Maryland play, their new arena that Infinity Center, is that what? Yeah, it’s been open
about ten years so its state-of-the-art– basketball arena and they’re sitting next
to each other in the audience. So, what I want you to go through, this is going to be
fun. So, when they made the announcement for your category, kind of retell, what was going
through your mind as they were saying, you know, senior individual third place, second
place senior individual exhibits third place, you must have story for that. What, yeah (chuckle),
do you remember any of it? Cause it was such a blur right?
Yeah we were sitting next to each other and you know they never announce performance
first, they never do, and this time, its random, you don’t know which categories first or
second so. Yeah, this time they’re like performance and so great. I didn’t have
time to freak out internally like usual and so (laughter) and so we were sitting next
to each other and we like grabbed hands and were like, okay, okay, we did this for both
categories and so they announced third and I mean, well, we both knew that we’d made
top ten right? I don’t know. She didn’t. Well, I knew I had made top ten at that point because
I had to perform again the day before, two days before, something or the day before and
I was like, okay, I’m going to be ten, that’s how its going to work, I’m going to get
last and and I had just accepted this and then I was like there’s no way I could place,
but if I do it might be third right, and so they start announcing and I’m like okay
okay and I start whispering to her like “I know who won, its like this person” and
then so I’d given up all hope and then they called my name and well, they were first like
from Kansas City, Missouri and we started freaking out, we didn’t even hear them announce
my name and (laughter) so hopefully I won. You had this the antenna. (Laughter) So at
the award ceremony it this big thing, kind of like the Olympics and all the affiliates
have their flags and everything. And so the Missouri state insect is the honey bee, so
we have thing antennae that we were wearing on our heads and when they called my name,
I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to take them off (laughter) when I ran down to the
stage and they were trying to put the medal on and it was a very awkward moment on the
camera footage but, but yeah (laughter) take them off, put the medal on, its fine. Someone
came up to me afterwards and was like, “you’re antenna girl” and I was like (chuckle) Antenna
girl? That’s good. And yeah, yeah, then you went. And then later on, it was maybe
an hour later cause its long, it’s a long award show, so we’re just waiting, so Erin
was one of the very first categories and Hannah was much much later so how was your experience?
So I didn’t know if I made finals or not for the exhibits they don’t announce
that so you have no idea if you’re a top three, top ten or clear back, like 106. You don’t find out. So they announced my category and they said they said third, and then they
said second, and then normally they would announce first and then display on the screen the list
of the finalists who were the top ten but its just a random order on the screen and
for my category they announced third it wasn’t me, second it wasn’t me and I was giving
up all hope, you don’t think it could be you and then the finalists popped up on the
screen and so it was this moment of panic, like why is this up there, it shouldn’t
be up their yet and I see my name and then I’m like wait, did I make it, could I still
get first? So I’m counting them super quick, and talking to Erin, like what’s this mean
and then they called it and its just like tears mentally, like I was so happy and (chuckle)
and it was kind of like an impossible goal for me because, well, you always dream of
getting first but there’s so many other things that are more important about National
History Day than placing, but it was just so exciting for me to, it was a great way
for me to end my National History Day journey. ‘Excellent, so what I’d like to do,
if you’d like to ask a question, come to the microphones at either side of the stage
and hopefully, do I need to turn those on? I think I need to turn them on, hang on one
second. They’re already turned on. Yup, there we go. Alright go for it. So this is kind of touched on in terms of the topics you guys chose, my question
is, you guys chose kind of broad topics but then got kind of a niche in it. Was it
intentional, what was the process of choosing your topic for those who might not be familiar
with the process? This year was the hardest for me to choose a topic. I knew I wanted
something recent enough where I’d have a lot of visual resources but other than that
I was really stuck on what to choose and so one of the local ladies from the D.A.R. suggested
it when I was at one of their meetings �hey, what about the monuments men? And so
I looked into it and watched the movie, I hadn’t watched it yet and was like, this
is the one for me. But it was a really big challenge for me, narrowing that down because there’s five million artworks, how do I pick, do I pick one artwork, do I pick one
person and finally I decided upon doing the whole group but just focusing specifically
on how they took a stand for cultural preservation. And it was still a challenge to narrow that
down to the 500 words and there’s so many more stories you could tell with it, but I
was really happy with finally getting it narrowed down to where I did. So, I’ve
did this two years in the past and the first year I had this very very broad topic, it
was the Trail of Tears and then the second year I had, um, not like a smaller topic,
but more of a niche topic and it was the repatriation which was, were actually illegal deportations, but that’s another story, of um Mexican American citizens in the Great Depression
and so that wasn’t something that people had heard a lot about and so I kind of experienced
it both ways. Having a broader topic and um, the first year, it was still great, I still
made it to nationals and everything but the second year, because not a lot of people knew
about my topic, I was able to go so much more in depth and it was so exciting to be
able to tell people about something that you know they’ve never heard of before and so
that’s what I was looking for this year. Because also, there are so many more research
resources that have been, that are sort of untouched when you have a topic that not a lot of people know about. So, it’s not required or anything, but it kind of makes
it more fun. So I mean, like when I came up with my topic, I was skipping down the halls
of my school for like two weeks, like telling everyone about Suffrajitsu and (laughter)
and people were probably not happy about that but it was, it was so interesting to me and
yeah, I think it’s cool to find a topic that you’re really passionate about and
so if it’s something specific, that’s great, if it’s not, that’s great too, but um,
either way, just dive in. To kind of add to that, once you find a topic, all your friends
know about it because you’ll go around and you’re researching and you’re like “look
at this! You won’t believe what they said!” and “Like how could they do this?” and
you always love to talk about your topic with other people. And then specifically with the
monuments men, most people haven’t heard of them, or if they have, its from the Monuments
Men movie and so I tried in my project, try to show the inaccuracies in the movie
and try to prove how those were misrepresented and kind of dramatized by Hollywood. So, I
was kind of also working to show the truth behind the story as well so.
Derek? This one’s for you Hannah, I noticed that all your exhibits are basically
all the same size and dimension where you can make thee whatever shape that you want
to as long as it fits within the required size and I think that yours are even smaller
than the required size, so I want to know how you decided to go about the construction
of the actual board itself and well that’s basically it, why, why you wanted to
do it that particular way? Oh! I remember if you, not as important but how did you get
it to DC, how did you mail it or whatever? Okay, (laughter) so in 8th grade, whenever
I started, my teacher Miss Hawk had these, those exhibit frames. So, like my penicillin
project, it’s the wood frame and I covered the inserts, it has inserts inside of it and
so I would cover those with fabric and so that would allow her to refuse them for each
class each year so that she wouldn’t have to buy new boards and once I decided to do
it on my own, I worked together with a local cabinet maker to help build the frames that
were the exact size and I went ahead and stuck with that design just because I liked how
you could see all the panels versus a rotating exhibit where you couldn’t see everything
at once and I like the height of it because sometimes whenever it gets really tall, its
hard to see personally I think, so that’s why I stuck with that design. And then getting the project to DC, we looked into shipping it my first year, but that is way too much
money, like 500 bucks to get it there. Especially with my Rosie the Riveter project where it
has steel inserts so it weighs a lot, and so we’ve just always drove out there and I
buy lots of bubble wrap and saran wrap and I’ll bubble wrap it here to the moon and
back to it stays safe. (chuckle) And then like my first year, whenever I walked into Nationals
and we got on the elevator and I sat it down and I heard this awful crack noise and one
of the frames broke and so duct tape comes in handy too. (chuckle) But usually it works
out pretty well transporting them. Anything else from the audience? Well,
lets give both students rousing applause. [Applause, cheers, whistling] So I’m going to finish
with kind of that word from your sponsor, OK? So, I do want to reiterate that the History
Day program here at the Truman Library for the last 20 years has been funded by the Truman Library
Institute. And so that’s if you’re considering membership to various organizations, I would
really advocate the Truman Library Institute Membership so that they can fund all our educational
programs including our teachers that are here this week and History Day and some of our
other educational programs as well. And then, I would really also like to thank that
I mentioned at the outset in the introductions, the State Historical Society of Missouri.
They’re based out of Columbia and they run the state program but also help all the
regional directors throughout the year. And I recognized Maggie Mayhan earlier as the state coordinator but they do have local officers in St. Louis and in Kansas City and so you
can use their resources from those locations so those two partners, the Truman Library
and the Federal government here are hosting the competition every for 20 years. The funding
from the Truman Library Institute and from the State Historical Society at the state
level are really what helps the program. It funds the breakfast for the judges, it helps
put on workshops, it funds our food for tonight, all of those things that are behind the scenes. That doesn’t happen without the support of those agencies, so I would like you to
bear that in mind as these cultural things are put under threat at the federal level.
Just remember that support for the National Endowment of Humanities supports the State
Historical Society of Missouri from the Missouri Humanities Council, National Endowment for
the Arts certainly funds many performance things throughout the country. Those funds
are under threat right now and I would just like to leave that thought with you as we
applaud once again these two students’ incredible achievement. [Applause] And finally I would
like to thank you for coming and spending your Thursday night with us and I appreciate
that. Yes, thank you very much for coming [Applause, chatter]

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