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Published November 03, 2020
A new website to support Wyoming History Day (WHD) recently was launched by the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC).
WHD, an affiliate of National History Day, brings together hundreds of Wyoming middle school and high school students in an annual competition to explore key themes of historical events and how they helped create today’s world.
Created by the AHC, the website provides online delivery of historical materials -- original primary sources held at the center -- to the students as they create their projects and presentations. The competition runs across the entire school year, through district meets and then the state competition. Top Wyoming students and their projects compete at the national level.
The new WHD website can be found at www.wyominghistoryday.org.
UW’s AHC created the website with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries awarded in September. The website will begin operation with six topics and items drawn from 15 collections, but the IMLS grant will enable the AHC, in the coming months, to provide materials for 30 topics held in nearly 90 collections, says UW AHC Director Paul Flesher.
In past years, students have come to the AHC in person to use its collections. Wyoming’s weather and winter roads often have made the trips difficult but, with the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are no longer possible. The IMLS grant enables the AHC to digitize holdings for the History Day competition and to build and host the website to make those digital copies available to students across Wyoming and around the nation, Flesher adds.
“Since large numbers of Wyoming History Day students use our historical materials every year -- often going on to win their category at the national competition -- we are quite gratified and pleased to be able to up our game at this time when physical access to our collections is difficult,” he says.
The 2021 National History Day theme, “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding,” offers the AHC an opportunity to digitize a wide variety of materials from its collections. These include topics such as the Pony Express, wartime journalism and propaganda, the comics industry and transmission of Native American cultural values.
The WHD website will be updated each year to accommodate the new annual History Day theme. It allows the AHC to continue to provide a comprehensive and consistent location for distributing digitized materials, Flesher says. This will alleviate Wyoming’s problem of rural access to primary sources and educational materials, even when COVID-19 finally recedes.
The AHC has coordinated WHD for more than a decade, hosting the state competition in Laramie every April. This year’s competition will be held virtually due to the pandemic, Flesher says.
For more information, call Leslie Waggener at (307) 766-2557 or email email@example.com.