Special Prizes

At the Maryland History Day state competition a number of special prizes are awarded. Awards are determined by the Special Prize Committee, based on nominations made by judges. However, students can self-nominate when they register for the state contest.

Below is a list of Maryland Special Prizes, some of which require projects that address a particular topic to win. Click the accordions to find out more information, including topic-specific resources.

  • Excellence in African American History, Sponsored by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture
    This award recognizes two projects that include research on the history and culture of African Americans.

    For more information, see the website of the MCAAHC. For topics pertaining to this prize, look at our topic lists and the available research days at  Morgan State University and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

  • Excellence in Asian History, Sponsored by the UMBC History Department
    This prize recognizes one project on the subject of Asian history or the history of the Asian diaspora.

    For inspiration for this topic, look to the Thinkport Inquiry Kits in World and U.S. History. The Maryland Historical Society also has documents relating to immigration into Baltimore; find more on their website. Thank you to the UMBC Department of History for sponsoring this prize.

  • Excellence in Civic Action and Engagement, sponsored by the Maryland Council for Social Studies
    This prize is awarded to an outstanding entry whose research and presentation relates to an individual, group, or organization that worked toward and succeeded in making differences in the civic life of their community, state, or nation.

    MDCSS works to build a community of social studies educators in the state of Maryland, and through this network advance cultural understanding, respect for human differences, and an appreciation of diversity.

  • Barry A. Lanman Award for Excellence in Oral History, Sponsored by Barry Lanman
    This award is presented to recognize exemplary student participants for high academic performance and technical skill in the creation of new oral history research or for the use of existing oral history resources in the completion of a Maryland History Day project. Students either conduct oral history interviews as a part of their research or use existing oral history interviews in the collections of libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums.

    Learn more about oral history in Maryland on the Martha Ross Center for Oral History website.

  • Eugene J. Becker Award for Excellence in Cybersecurity and Cryptology, Sponsored by the National Cryptologic Museum and Foundation
    This prize awards projects that include research on computer safety, codes, code breaking, and related topics.

    For more information, check out the National Cryptologic Museum.

  • George Washington Leadership Award, Sponsored by George Washington's Mount Vernon
    George Washington stood at the center of the world stage through the second half of the 18th century and has continued to do so since his death in 1799.  He played a pivotal role in every major event surrounding the founding of our nation in his roles as Commander in Chief, president at the Constitutional Convention, citizen farmer, and the President of the United States of America.  His actions have been examples of civic responsibility, patriotism, and historic complexity over time and remain relevant in national dialogue today.  This $350 prize will be awarded to an outstanding project in either the junior or senior division that demonstrates a clear understanding of the ideas and events defined by Washington’s life, leadership, and legacy.  In addition to outstanding historical interpretation, we award special consideration to projects that seek innovative and compelling ways to tell the story of George Washington so that his timeless and relevant life is accessible to the world.  http://www.mountvernon.org
  • Excellence in Historic Preservation, sponsored by the Maryland Historical Trust
    This prize is awarded to projects in which students have involved the identification and evaluation of historical and cultural resources as part of their research methodology or whose projects are designed to encourage the protection of historical and cultural resources. Projects should focus on resources such as historic buildings, artifacts or objects, historic districts, landscapes, and land and underwater archaeology sites. Projects might include research on historic battlefields, industrial buildings like mills or canning and packing houses, archaeological evidence of Native American settlements, historic schools, or historic ships. Although a connection to Maryland cultural resources is desirable, it is not required. There are many possibilities for research on historic preservation through museums and historical societies. Students who wish to do research at the Maryland Historical Trust Library may contact mdesarran@mdp.state.md.us.
  • Excellence in the History of Science and Technology, sponsored by the UMBC Department of History
    This prize goes to a project that focuses on science, technology, and the impacts of both on history.

    Interested in this topic? Check out the UMB Department of History and the National Institute of Health Museum for some inspiration!

  • Excellence in LGBTQ+ History, sponsored by Aaron Heinsman
    This prize is awarded to two projects that focus on areas of history related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), and other gender and sexual minorities. Priority will be given to projects that focus specifically on the arc of LGBTQ+ history, social movements, and the advancement of human rights.
  • The Major General John E. Morrison Award for Excellence in Education and Innovation, sponsored by the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation

    This award is for outstanding projects that address topics related to the history of science, technology, engineering and math. For more information, visit the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation and view past winners.

  • Excellence in Maryland History, sponsored by the Maryland Center for History and Culture
    This prize goes to projects that focus on topics in Maryland History. For inspiration, you can always visit the Maryland Center for History and Culture’s Website.
  • Michael E. Patten Memorial History Award for the Best Use of Primary Sources, Sponsored by the Frank Patten Family
    This prize is awarded in honor of Michael E. Patten. It goes to an outstanding project that makes significant use of primary sources. For more information on the Patten prize, as well as past winners please visit the Michael E. Patten Award website.
  • Excellence in the Study of Peace and Non-Violence
    The Award for Excellence in the Study of Peace and Non-Violence  is given to entries that best examine the aesthetics of peace, justice, or non-violence as a way to sustain our earth, promote global awareness and support the dignity of all persons.
  • Senator Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr. Award for Excellence in Government History, sponsored by Maryland Humanities
    This prize goes to two projects focusing on government history. For inspiration, check out the Thinkport Inquiry Kits on U.S. Government.
  • Excellence in Labor History, Sponsored by Bill Barry and friends
    This prize is awarded to projects on the history of labor, labor laws, political advocacy and organizing. For more inspiration, look at the CCBC Program in Labor History
  • Excellence in Legal and Constitutional History, sponsored by Cynthia Raposo and Joseph Furey
    This prize is awarded to two projects that focus on legal history, constitutional history, or both.

    The Oyez website and the website of the National Archives in D.C. are two good sources for this project. If you want to do a local history project, ask your town hall or courthouse if they have archives you can access!

  • Excellence in Women's History Prize, sponsored by the UMBC Department of History and the Maryland Women's Heritage Center
    This prize is awarded to two projects that focus on women’s history. For inspiration, check out the Women’s Heritage Center website.
  • Excellence in White House History, sponsored by the White House Historical Association
    Sponsored by the White House Historical Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion, this $400 prize is awarded to an outstanding project in both the Junior and Senior divisions that documents and analyzes White House history through such subjects as individual presidents, first ladies, residence staff, White House art and architecture, or important events that took place in the White House.

    Consider lesser-known and even untold stories in White House history. Get started by reviewing the White House Historical Association’s suggested project starters and browsing through research they’ve started, including our Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood initiative.

  • “[The students] learned a variety of ways to present their material and they could focus on what they wanted to learn about. The students had a choice in their learning. It was about their learning NOT what someone else felt they need to learn.”

    ​Maryland History Day teacher
  • “My students became more competent researchers, and took ownership of their work. They had total free reign to choose their topic, direct their research, and create their final project.”

    ​Maryland History Day 2015 Teacher
  • “History Day inspired me to become deeply invested in historical topics which I never thought I’d enjoy. It is an amazing experience that has the ability to make learning fun for everyone, no matter what you’re interested in.”

    Addie Skillman, National History Day Gold Winner
  • “The researching and communicating skills have made me a more confident person in all academic endeavors. These are skills that will last me a lifetime.”

    ​Maryland History Day student participant
  • “[My son] became a real expert in his topic and, he says, developed a life-long love of history, especially the history of music. I cannot thank you enough for this rare and incredible opportunity.”

    Andrea LeWinter, parent of Maryland History Day participant
  • “I had never done anything like this before so it was a totally new experience to write a paper, be interviewed, and defend my positions. I now really know how to do research and it has improved my writing skills.”

    ​Maryland History Day 2015 Student
  • “It provided an opportunity for my child to learn through experiential opportunities. He had interviews and tours that were relevant to his topic that helped the history come alive and create unforgettable memories.”

    Maryland History Day 2015 Parent
  • “My students went deeper with primary and secondary sources than ever before. They used critical thinking skills and applied the transfer goals and essential questions on a deeper level than they could have in class. It challenged them to think deeper and defend their findings.”

    Maryland History Day 2019 Teacher
  • “We were very impressed with the depth of research all the students did for their History Day projects. It was fun to see them interacting with each other during the competition and events.”

    Lori and Josh Skillman, History Day Parents
  • “MHD illustrated the applicability of the study of history to contemporary issues and current events. It was very motivating to converse with the students about their historical topic and observe how they applied it to current events and their own life circumstances.”

    ​Maryland History Day parent
  • “I think the continual process of improving her research and presentation through the various levels of competition has been incredibly valuable. It has caused her to dig deeper in her research and build upon and refine her work and presentation.”

    ​Maryland History Day parent
  • “The excitement of the research was wonderful for my students’ academic progress. They now feel capable of doing any research paper that may be assigned in college!”

    Maryland History Day 2019 Teacher
  • “The part of History Day that had the most impact on me was seeing all the other entries and entry categories. It was really inspiring to see so many different people of history honored for their leadership and legacy as that was this years theme. You forget that the whole world has a history and there are so many different people and leaders who make up that history. The fact that this day brings together all of us students, our imaginations, our creativity, research skills, and history really reminds you how much of us would be lost if we didn’t remember those who made an impact.”

    ​Maryland History Day student participant
  • “The students are now far more prepared for the high level of scholarship and achievement that will be expected of them in future years. MHD also elevated many other skills too. These include public speaking, the use of technology, learning to collaborate.”

    ​Maryland History Day teacher
  • I’ve loved judging! It’s exciting to see the passion the middle schoolers have put in their projects. I hope that my critiques have helped strive for excellence throughout their lives.

    Dee Krasnansky, Maryland History Day Judge
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Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports bold experiences that explore and elevate our shared stories to connect people, enhance lives, and enrich communities.
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