A Massachusetts Statewide Student Essay Competition Will Commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the Landing of the Mayflower

American Ancestors|New England Historic Genealogical Society Challenges Massachusetts Students to Reflect Upon the Relevance of the Voyage of the Mayflower 400 Years after Its Arrival

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January 13, 2020—Boston, Massachusetts—400 years ago the Mayflower landed on the shores of what would later be known as Massachusetts, forever changing the course of history of four nations: America, England, the Netherlands, and the Wampanoag. American Ancestors—also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)—a national family history organization headquartered in Boston and one of the groups leading activities to commemorate the quadricentennial of the landing of the Mayflower, has announced a statewide student competition in Massachusetts to honor the story of the Pilgrims and of the native Wampanoag people. The 2020 American Ancestors Young Historians Essay Contest asks students to explore how this 400-year old history relates to our national, familial, and/or personal stories and identities.

Open to students currently enrolled in grades 5–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the contest asks participants to address one of three topics:

  • How is the story of the Mayflower still relevant today?
  • How does your family’s journey to America compare to the journey of the Pilgrims in 1620?
  • As a native student, what does your tribal history mean to you?

American Ancestors' Director of Education Ginevra Morse described the statewide competition as an opportunity to honor the story of the Pilgrims and of the native Wampanoag people. “Their stories, collectively and individually, embody the triumphs and tragedies of life in early New England and in the country itself. These stories are still relevant today.”

“Involving some of the youngest minds in a process of reflection upon this historic event will lead to new insights and understanding for historians of all ages. We’re delighted to offer an opportunity for Massachusetts students to interpret and express the significance of the Mayflower voyage in their own words. We have no doubt that it will be revealing for many of us,” she added.

A panel of judges will announce winners of the 2020 American Ancestors Young Historians Essay Contest in early August 2020. Cash prizes will be awarded to six winners; three winners will be selected from grades 5—8 and receive $500 each and another three winners will be selected from grades 9—12 and receive $750 each. All winners will be invited to present part of their essay at special events in Boston, Massachusetts, commemorating the Mayflower 400 year.

The deadline for essay submissions is June 10, 2020. Submission guidelines may be found on the Mayflower companion website of American Ancestors.

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