Researching history at the library

National History Day 2007 Documentary Category National Winner: The Great Seattle Fire

I'm such a nerd. While in college my roommate skipped classes because she was hanging out with her boyfriend, she was sleeping, it was raining or any other excuse she could find (before flunking out). I skipped classes (and not just one or two) to hang out at the State Historical Society of Missouri. I was doomed as soon as I discovered it was actually on campus. I had one professor give us an assignment that required us to dig into old Missouri papers on microfilm. The other students complained about doing a stupid assignment that was probably just to help a prof with his research, but I was in my element.

Over 2,600 Mo. students grades 6-12 compete in National History Day. This year's theme is "Conflict and Compromise in History," which seems apropo in an election year. About 500 students will then compete at the state level in April with 45-50 going on to nationals in June. The St. Louis region's contest will be this Saturday, Feb. 23, at UMSL.

The ability to do real historical research and present their studies instead of just memorizing dates is a wonderful way to show students the relevance and fascinating aspects of history. Go St. Louis history students!