Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On finding my work cited in a young historian's annotated bibliography

So here I was at the state level of the National History Day competition. 

Back to my story...

The time had come (following the interview and judging period) when the doors open into the museum hall so that visitors can take a look at the year's entries in both senior and junior divisions of the historical exhibit category. So I wandered the rows, viewing projects on this year's theme: Turning Points in History. I saw projects on everything from apartheid to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire to Napolean Bonaparte to the first transcontinental railroad. 

Suddenly, an exhibit struck my eye. The topic: the Cristero rebellion in 1920s Mexico. Now here was a topic I knew something about. I had written an article about it for The Catholic Gene blog. It was a troubling period just decades ago in Mexico's history featuring the almost incomprehensible struggle for religious liberties and civil rights fought by the Mexican people.

I took time to read this project a little more closely than the others, picking up the annotated bibliography on the table in front of the exhibit. I flipped open a page, and - surprise! - there was my article, cited and annotated by the students who created the project. 

I was happy to see that they had used my work as a source, and it was a good reminder of the importance of solid research and writing. I work hard to do complete research and write accurate articles about the topics I cover.  Yet, seeing that these students had relied on my work as a central resource for their historical research project gave me additional inspiration to continue to ensure the integrity of what I publish here on the web and elsewhere.


One of my greatest hopes is that I can help in some small way to inspire young people to delve into and begin to love the study of history. So many adults, sadly, avoid anything with the H-word stamped onto it, having flashbacks of failing to memorize a timeline or to learn names and dates for a test during their school years. 

The nation's top young historians will gather this week to
compete in the National History Day competition at the
University of Maryland, College Park 

National History Day is encouraging young students to see beyond the names and dates and learn what history is all about through in-depth investigations using primary sources. They are given a chance to become young historians, doing meaningful research and presenting their conclusions within museum-like exhibits and other formats much like a professional historian might have the opportunity to do. What a thrill for me to find my name and work within the bibliography produced by a group of these young historians!

This year's National History Day competition will take place this coming week at the University of Maryland, College Park: June 9-13, 2013. The theme is Turning Points in History. If you are in the area, I encourage you to stop by and view some of the nation's best student-created historical exhibits, documentaries, websites, papers and performances of the year. I'll be cheering on some of those talented students during this year's competition!

Get National History Day updates on Twitter by following them at @NationalHistory or myself at @smallestleaf.

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