History Day in Cooperstown
History comes alive every day at the Baseball Hall of Fame – and not just baseball history.
Nearly 600 middle and high school students from throughout the Empire State converged in Cooperstown on Monday to compete in the annual New York History Day contest.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Bullpen Theater, Learning Center, and Library Conference Room were some of the village locations that saw students present their papers, documentaries, exhibits, websites and performances. The Fenimore Art Museum, the Farmers’ Museum and the Otesaga Hotel also played host to the day’s events, which concluded with an awards ceremony at the Cooperstown Middle/High School.
As one of the judges for Senior (grades 9-12) Group Documentary, I was privileged to see the extraordinary work produced by a number of highly motivated and eager students. The final result, documentaries of no more than 10 minutes, involved a wide variety of topics such as Apollo 11, Henry Ford’s assembly line, New York City’s subway system, the smallpox vaccine, and Sputnik.
New York State History Day, an educational outreach program of the New York State Historical Association, is a year-long history education program that challenges students in sixth through 12th grade to produce “exceptional scholarship” on topics related to an annual theme. This year’s theme was “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” Students presented their projects to a panel of judges in a series of competitions starting at the local level. by a number of highly motivated and eager students. The final result, documentaries of no more than 10 minutes, involved a wide variety of topics such as Apollo 11, Henry Ford’s assembly line, New York City’s subway system, the smallpox vaccine, and Sputnik.
Not only did the young scholars have to research their topics, but in the case of the documentary option I witnessed, had to produce an engaging and informative film. Using photos, videos or interviews they conducted, one could tell by viewing the final product that each of the participants spent countless hours for a well-received final result.
Students who placed first and second in their categories in Cooperstown are eligible to compete at National History Day in College Park, Md., in June.
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum