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News Release
Anja Jolin in 2020
Anja Jolin in 2020
Oregon Students Reach Finals Round, Win Notable Awards at Virtual National History Day(R) Contest (Photo) - 06/27/22

Portland, OR — The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) is proud to announce that 46 middle and high school students from across the state of Oregon participated in this year’s virtual National History Day® (NHD) contest, presenting individual or group projects in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Four Oregon entries made it to the Finals Round and ranked among the top 10 in the nation, with two projects placing second and third in their categories. These high-quality entries advanced to compete against more than 2,700 students from across the country after placing first or second in the virtual Oregon History Day contest.

Longtime NHD participant Anja Jolin, a senior at St. Mary’s Academy, placed second in the nation for her senior paper, “Delegitimizing Diplomacy: The Berlin West Africa Conference.” Having competed in NHD since 8th grade, this paper is the capstone of an incredibly impressive career in the contest, with previous projects winning the national affiliate awards for Oregon and placing as high as 8th in the nation. Jolin has used her NHD projects to explore a wide variety of topics over the years, including South Africa’s transition to democracy, policewomen breaking barriers in Portland, and the legal impacts of the Berhanu v. Metzger trial. 

For her 2022 paper, Jolin found that “primary sources from the African perspective were particularly difficult to find because of limited written documentation from this time period and the destruction of historical artifacts that occurred under European colonial systems.” She therefore “relied on primary source quotes and excerpts contained within secondary sources” and was able to successfully make the “historical argument . . . that under the guise of diplomacy, European leaders at the Berlin Conference established rules for the occupation of Africa that ignored the rights and interests of Africans. The resulting partition of Africa into European-controlled colonies left a legacy of economic and political instability that persists to this day.”

Sunset High School freshman Jasper Gu’s senior individual exhibit, The Orphan Drug Act: How Debate and Diplomacy Improved Healthcare for Orphan Disease Patientsplaced third in the nation after having previously finished second at this year’s Oregon History Day contest. Gu’s exhibit was exceptional in that he interviewed Henry Waxman, the congressman credited with creating the Orphan Drug Act who was the chair of the Health and Environment Subcommittee at the time (1983). Gu first competed in History Day as a middle school student with his exhibit Rosalind Franklin: The Discovery of DNA’s Structure and the Impact on Women in STEM. Judges remarked that they learned a lot from his 2022 National History Day project and that he used a “great application of data to illustrate [the] points being made.” 

Three additional entries also earned special awards for their excellent work. McKenzie Rose of Echo School was honored by the National Museum of American History for the second consecutive year by having her senior individual exhibit, The Debatable Trent Affair: How Strategic Diplomacy Prevented War, included in the Smithsonian Learning Lab’s virtual showcase. One student project is nominated by the state coordinator for this honor, and Rose’s project stood out thanks to her thorough research and excellent design. Her exhibit was also honored with the United States Naval and Maritime History: Preserve, Promote, and Celebrate Award for Oregon this year.

The ACCESS Academy team of Alexa Buckley, Franka Gronke, Hazel Miranda Zellnik, Jolee Ray, and Fiona Snyder and Helix School’s MayaBella Texior earned the Outstanding Affiliate Award at the junior and senior level respectively. Both projects placed among the top ten in the nation and were created by students who were participating in History Day for the first time. In the award-winning junior group performance, The 1912 Oregon Suffrage Vote: How Tactics Make and Break Debates, the students argued that a major factor in the success of the Oregon suffrage movement was the mass advertising campaigns deployed to promote the movement. One judge at the national contest noted of Texidor’s senior individual documentary, EXCOMM: The Internal Debates of Kennedy's Secret Council, “that this documentary was your first attempt at video-making is astonishing to me. I sincerely hope it won’t be your last.” Judges also commended Texidor for focusing her project on EXCOMM, rather than the larger Cuban Missile Crisis. 

“Each year, we are inspired by students’ History Day projects, which continue to show us that there are no limits to the questions we can ask of the past and the insights we can gain from exploring those questions,” said Eliza E. Canty-Jones, OHS Chief Program Officer.

OHS is proud of the hard work and countless hours these students and their teachers spent on these projects and wish to congratulate them along with all the students who participated in the Oregon History Day program this year. A big thank you to the Oregon volunteer judges as well for their excellent input, which helped students improve their projects ahead of their national debut. OHS is eager to see what students create for next year’s contest around the theme “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.”

About Oregon History Day:

Oregon History Day, part of National History Day®, is a renowned, evidence-based middle and high school program. Facilitated by the Oregon Historical Society, this culturally responsive program invites students to interpret a historical event that connects to the annual theme by creating a website, paper, performance, exhibit, or documentary.

Oregon History Day is a highly adaptable program. Students can select their own topic to research, or teachers can choose a broad category to guide their students’ projects. With the assistance of educators, librarians, and online resources, students analyze primary and secondary sources to develop and support their thesis. Creating an Oregon History Day project is immensely rewarding for students, many of whom participate over consecutive years. Oregon History Day meets the state standards in multiple subjects and can support the teaching of standards related to Ethnic Studies, Tribal History / Shared History, and Holocaust and Genocide education.

Educators are encouraged to contact the Oregon Historical Society by emailing history.day@ohs.org if they are interested in bringing this program to their classroom. For more information on National History Day®, visit www.nhd.org.

About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state’s collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (www.ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon’s history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon’s cannot be contained within a single story or point of view. 

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