“American Labor History Awards” at National History Day

The Wisconsin Labor History Society since 2006 has offered top prizes to students who use labor history themes to their National History Day projects.  This has prompted a plethora of projects this year on labor topics by Wisconsin school kids.  The Society offers special cash awards for the best student projects on American labor history within the scope of each year’s national theme: a $50 junior prize and a $50 senior prize at each of the regional contests and a $100 junior prize and a $100 senior prize at the statewide finals.

A unique aspect of our WLHS awards is that they are given out at every regional event, in addition to being available at the state finals in Madison.

Altogether, the WLHS awards up to $900 a year in prize dollars.

For the purposes of the WLHS special prize, “American labor history” was defined broadly to include the history of:

  1. organizations, such as labor unions and political groups connected to the labor movement;
  2. leaders of working people and their associations; or,
  3. the experiences of workers on the job or their organized struggles to improve their work and their lives.

By awarding these prizes we hope to increase awareness in the school children and teachers of Wisconsin about the role of working people in building a more just and equitable America. Winning projects have to demonstrate strong research and analysis as defined by the National History Day evaluation criteria.

The Wisconsin Labor History Society reserves the right to not make an award, if, in the opinion of its representatives at any competition, no student project at that competition falls within the scope of the society’s labor history award or has the quality needed to merit the award.

Each History Day event was attended by one or more WLHS members who participated in the judging for the labor history award and who were available to hand out the labor history award at the awards ceremony conducted at the close of each event.

WLHS Board members and others volunteer to judge the entries at the statewide and regional contests.  The chair of the WLHS committee is John Jentz, a WLHS board member from Milwaukee.  john.jentz@marquette.edu.