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Sixty-two Iowa students win state history contest, advance to National History Day national finals

Apr 25, 2023

DES MOINES – Sixty-two Iowa students took top honors in the National History Day in Iowa contest Monday and advanced to compete in the national contest in June.

The 62 students emerged from a total of 498 competitors in Monday’s state contest at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. In June, they will travel to the University of Maryland where they will compete in the National History Day national contest against nearly 3,000 students from the United States and around the world. The program is administered in Iowa by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

"National History Day is a year-long academic program that gives students an opportunity to learn about history and develop skills that will last a lifetime,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “We congratulate our state winners and wish them well as they represent Iowa at the national contest.”

This year's national qualifiers include students from 18 different schools:

Abraham Lincoln High School
Akron-Westfield Middle School
Bettendorf Middle School
Carroll High School
Clarinda High School
Decorah Community Schools Homeschool Assistance Program
Decorah Middle School
Franklin MIddle School
Gerald W. Kirn Middle School
Harding Middle School
Johnston Middle School
Lewis Central Senior High School
Marshalltown High School
Nashua-Plainfield Junior-Senior High School
North Scott Senior High School
St. Benedict School
Storm Lake High School
Unity Christian High School

National History Day challenges students to research, develop and present papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances about historical topics related to an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.”

More than half a million middle and high school students around the world participate in the program each year. In Iowa, 695 students participated in the program, which includes a Junior Division (grades 6-8), Senior Division (grades 9-12), and a non-competitive Youth Division (grades 4-5).

“Over the years, this program has become one of the strongest of its kind in the country,” National History in Iowa Coordinator Hanna Howard said. “A generation of Iowa students has been inspired to pursue their studies and even careers in history, and we’re very excited to continue that success now and through the coming years.”

As part of the program, students learn important literacy skills and how to conduct research using primary, secondary, community and statewide resources. Working individually or in groups of two to five, they develop the following attributes that are essential for future success: critical thinking and problem-solving skills, research and reading skills, oral and written communication skills, presentation skills, self-esteem and confidence, as well as a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process.

The National History Day in Iowa program has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, since 1994 and is sponsored by the State Historical Society, Inc., National Endowment for the Humanities and Bravo Greater Des Moines.

More information is available at

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa-State Office of Film & Media – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.