Annual Nancy Carnegie Merrill History Award Contest
February - April
Every winter the Exeter Historical Society invites students in grades 6 to 12 to compete for the Nancy Carnegie Merrill History Award in honor of our esteemed former curator for her invaluable contributions to the preservation and interpretation of our local history.
Each year, students of the Cooperative Middle School, Exeter High School, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the greater Seacoast area are invited to enter by contacting faculty members in their social studies departments or the historical society directly for further information.
A panel of judges choose the essay entries from each division (Middle School and High School) that best meet the criteria of outstanding achievement in format, historical accuracy, originality and style. First prize for the essay contest in each division is $100, and this year, those coming in second will each receive $50. The winning papers are read by the authors at our annual Youth Night awards ceremony on Thursday, April 18th. The deadline for essay submission is Saturday, March 23rd.
The theme for the contest this year is suffrage. In their essays, we ask students to explore an aspect of how the absence or granting of suffrage affected community members. Living in New Hampshire, the first in the nation primary state, means that New Hampshirites know that the right to vote is a fundamental part of a functioning democracy. But not all residents of New Hampshire and Exeter have had access to that right. Originally restricted to white, male property owners, voting rights have been expanded several times, including in 1870, 1919, and 1971, giving persons of color, women, and eighteen year olds access to the ballot box. How did residents of Exeter and surrounding towns react when these rights were expanded? Was the 15th Amendment a controversial idea in town? Did women greet the idea of voting with open arms? How did teens react when they first were allowed to cast their ballots? If students wish to look at elections more generally, they might explore how Exeter has been affected by New Hampshire's practice of holding the first Presidential primary. More information about the essay contest, as well as the official cover sheet, can be found here.
It is our hope that the Nancy Carnegie Merrill Award will foster an appreciation for our community and an interest in its past. Service Credit Union has generously sponsored the contest and Youth Night since its inception in 2007. Perkins Power Equipment also supports Youth Night.
School Group Visits
The Exeter Historical Society welcomes school children of all ages interested in an aspect of Exeter history. To the classroom teachers, we offer on-site programs at the Historical Society, outreach visits at your school, or a combination of the two catered to fit your particular needs. If desired, we will work with the teacher to customize a program to help meet specific educational standards. There is a minimal charge for some of these programs. Please inquire for pricing.