Today’s post comes from eighth grader Allie Tubbs in Johnston, Iowa, who participated in the National History Day competition.
I recently competed at National History Day and was thrilled and honored to place first in the Junior Individual Performance category. In Washington, D.C., I competed against 80 other individual performers. I believe the encouragement and helpfulness of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum staff was a critical part of my success.
In January 2014, I chose my topic. I started looking for a topic by searching “2014 National History Day research topics” as a Google search. While scrolling through the results, I found the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum website. What immediately caught my attention was the list of ideas that dealt specifically with their museum.
I clicked on this link and was searching through all the topic ideas when I found the DePriest Tea. I was intrigued by the fact that Lou Henry Hoover was the first one to invite an African American woman to the White House and decided to make Lou Henry Hoover’s tea with Jessie DePriest my National History Day project. The link also had ideas for the thesis and places to start researching. This gave me a path to start researching so as not to “drown” in all the research possibilities. After the initial research, I constantly had the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum website open to look for further research and thesis ideas. Using the website and tools from my teacher, I was able to construct my thesis and the very first rough draft of my script.
After using all of the resources from the website, I decided to contact the library to see if they had any primary documents I could use as research. I was put in touch with archivist Craig Wright. I had many opportunities to interview Mr. Wright. He was able to provide me with so many primary documents that changed my perspective on my topic. There were so many primary documents accumulated by the library that even after six months of research I don’t think I’ve read all of them!
In February, I was able to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Everybody I talked to was extremely accommodating and helpful. They were also a valuable resource to answer questions as I was doing my research. Being able to read and touch documents that former First Lady, Lou Hoover, wrote was one of the coolest experiences in my life! Even after I had visited the library, Craig Wright still was very open to answering my questions. Craig Wright was very helpful and personal and helped in so many ways! I don’t think I could have gone nearly as far in the competition without his help!
All the way through my regional, state, and national competitions the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum was always there to help and answer any questions I had. Many times I would call and ask if there was any document that said something about the event and they were able to find it and send it to me. My favorite resource I got from the library was Ruth Fesler’s transcribed oral interview. Ruth Fesler was Lou Henry Hoover’s secretary and close friend, whom I portrayed in my play. This gave me great insight and I was able to incorporate many of Ms. Fesler’s quotes into my play. Without this resource and many others I found through the library my play would not have been nearly as historically accurate, using these primary quotes, correspondence, and newspaper articles in my script.
Even though the National Competition is now over, I cannot thank the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum enough! I will always remember this year not only as the year I won individual junior performance but as the year I gained many amazing experiences from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. The library gave me so many helpful materials and ideas. If I hadn’t contacted the museum I wouldn’t have made it to Nationals. This year has been my best year at National History Day, and I fully attribute that success to the help and resources from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum! Thank you so much!
Congratulations to Allie on placing first in the Junior Individual Performance category, and to the many other students who researched at the National Archives this past year! Find our main National History Day resource page at www.archives.gov/education/history-day