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May 26, 1897: Dracula, a novel by the Irish author Bram Stoker, was first published in London, England. Famous for introducing the vampire, Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. The novel continues to inspire numerous adaptations and Dracula remains an iconic literary figure.
May 27, 1930: The 1,046 feet Chrysler Building in New York City, the tallest man-made structure at the time, opened to the public. Designed by architect William Van Alen, the the ground breaking occurred on September 19, 1928, in the midst of an intense competition in New York City to build the world's tallest skyscraper.
May 28, 1830: The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The act authorized him to negotiate with the Indians in the Southern United States for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their homelands and paved the way for the tragic event widely known as the "Trail of Tears."
May 29, 1660: After the death of Oliver Cromwell and the political unrest that followed, Charles II was restored to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. Charles agreed to give up feudal dues that had been revived by his father; in return, the English Parliament granted him an annual income to run the government of £1.2 million, generated largely from customs and excise duties.
May 30, 1989: Near the end of the student-led demonstrations against the Communist hardliners in China, the 33-foot high "Goddess of Democracy" statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by the demonstrators.The statue was constructed in only four days out of foam and papier-mâché over a metal armature.
May 31, 1902: The Treaty of Vereeniging was signed thereby ending the Second Boer War. This settlement provided for the end of hostilities and eventual self-government to the Transvaal (South African Republic) and the Orange Free State as colonies of the British Empire.
June 1, 1921: The black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma, located in the Greenwood District, also known as "the Black Wall Street," was burned to the ground by white vigilantes. An estimated 10,000 black residents of the wealthiest black community in the United States were left homeless, as 35 city blocks were destroyed by fire.
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May 19, 1536: Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England, was beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest. Despite having been condemned and abandoned by her husband, moments before her execution, she reportedly said, "I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord."
May 20, 1802: By the Law of 20 May 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated slavery in the French colonies, thereby revoking the Law of 4 February 1794 passed during the French Revolution which had abolished the practice.
May 21, 1881: Inspired by the work of the International Red Cross, Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons established the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters. in congruence with the International Red Cross.
May 22, 1964: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an "end to poverty and racial injustice" in America.
May 23, 1951: Tibetans signed the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet with the People's Republic of China. The terms of the agreement had not been cleared with the Tibetan Government before signing and the Tibetan Government was divided about whether it was better to accept the document as written or to flee into exile. The Dalai Lama, who by this time had ascended to the throne, chose not to flee into exile, and formally accepted the Seventeen Point Agreement in October 1951.
May 24, 1738: John Wesley was converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day and a church service is generally held on the preceding Sunday
May 25, 1935: Jesse Owens of Ohio State University broke three world records and tied a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A year later, Owens would go on to participate in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals. He was the most successful athlete at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
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May 12, 1926: The Italian-built airship Norge became the first vessel to fly over the North Pole. The expedition was the brainchild of polar explorer and expedition leader Roald Amundsen, the airship's designer and pilot Umberto Nobile and American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, who along with the Aero Club of Norway financed the trip.
May 13, 1846: The United States declared war on Mexico, following the April 25th, Thornton Affair in which a 2,000-strong Mexican cavalry detachment attacked a U.S. patrol in the contested territory north of the Rio Grande and south of the Nueces River. The attack resulted in the death of 16 American soldiers
May 14, 1607: Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Established by the Virginia Company of London as “James Fort,” it followed several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jamestown served as the capital of the Colony of Virginia for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699.
May 15, 1886: The American poet, Emily Dickinson, died at the age of 55. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890, but was heavily edited. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955. She is considered to be one of the most important American poets.
May 16, 1770: 14-year old Marie Antoinette married 15-year-old Louis-Auguste, who later became the king of France. The ceremonial wedding of the Dauphin and Dauphine took place in the Palace of Versailles.
May 17, 1939: The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers played in the United States' first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
May 18, 1953: Jackie Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier at Rogers Dry Lake, California. Encouraged by her lifelong friend Chuck Yeager, Cochran flew a Canadair F-86 Sabre jet borrowed from the Royal Canadian Air Force at an average speed of 652.337 mph.
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May 5, 1860: Giuseppe Garibaldi set sail from Genoa, leading the expedition of a thousand volunteers, known as i Mille, to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and give birth to the kingdom of Italy.
May 6, 1954: Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes.
May 7, 1763: Ottawa Chief Pontiac led a force of more than 300 followers in attacking British forces at Fort Detroit, beginning what would be known as Pontiac’s Rebellion
May 8, 1973: A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the American Indian Movement members occupying the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota ended with the surrender of the militants.
May 9, 1671: Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, unsuccessfully attempted to steal England's Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.
May 10, 1857: The first war for Indian Independence began as Sepoys revolted against their British commanding officers at Meerut.
May 11, 1960: In Buenos Aires, Argentina, four Israeli Mossad agents captured fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann who had been living under the alias of Ricardo Klement.
A hat tip goes to John Fea of Messiah College for turning us on to a wonderful testimony by a Maryland parent concerning the transformative effect the National History Day Contest is capable of having on young people. Jerri Bell reflects on her son’s recent failure at the Maryland History Day competition to advance to the nationals in June.
Watching my older son fail at the Maryland History Day competition on Saturday was one of the toughest things I’ve done as a parent. He had paced through the hours between his presentation to the judges and announcement of the awards. At the awards ceremony, his face was pale. He clenched and unclenched his hands and jaw, and stared intently at the emcees while other awards were announced. When his name wasn’t called for either the first or second place in his category, his posture sagged and I could see that he was working hard to keep his emotions under control. When we left the Retriever Athletic Center at UMBC, he stormed off ahead of me. An hour later, I had never been prouder of him, even though he had failed to accomplish an important goal.
Ms. Bell’s son’s failure was particularly bitter given that he had advanced to the nationals in each of the previous two years. The success had instilled in young Mr. Bell confidence in his academic prowess that had translated into excellence in the classroom, but he became complacent. Yet adversity would not undo the lesson learned through his participation in the NHD. After getting past the initial shock, Ms. Bell describes what happened next.
For the next half-hour, he evaluated his own work. He spent too much time on Xbox and TV, he said. He used low-hanging fruit for source material, and was satisfied with it. He had lacked the confidence to request an interview with someone who won a Nobel Prize. He could have done a dynamic diorama instead of a static display. He could have taken the advice of his seventh-grade social studies teacher, and made the project interactive. He knew that standards in the senior division would be higher, and that he would be competing against upperclassmen, but he hadn’t made enough extra effort.
Rather than allow the regret to dispirit him, young Mr. Bell articulated his intention to redouble his efforts for next year’s contest despite no longer being required to produce an entry for school. The resilience and maturity displayed by her son convinces Jerri Bell of the value of the NHD event. She writes, “The History Day competition doesn’t just teach social studies content, analytical skills, and presentation. It’s more than an opportunity for a student to succeed. It can teach life skills, like how to handle failure – and how to recover.”
One the primary goals of the Homeschool History Fair of the Ozarks is to make more young people aware of the opportunities available to them through the National History Day Contest. Like Messiah College, Missouri State University hosts a regional competition that sends deserving students to Jefferson City for the National History Day in Missouri competition. We were pleased to learn that two participants in our 2012 fair decided to showcase their talents in the NHD, both of whom moved past the regional round to be invited to Jeff City. Working with the theme of “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events,” Adam Debacker’s documentary, “Staging A Century: The Landers Theater and America's Turning Points,” chronicles the changes that have taken place at Springfield’s historic downtown landmark by artfully connecting its history to the events and innovations occurring in the wider culture. Meanwhile, Michelle Cooper produced a beautiful web site detailing the life of Clara Barton and the seminal role she played in helping to professionalize the field of nursing. Both Adam and Michelle are to be applauded for their efforts. They each embody the vision that a group of homeschooling parents had when the HHFO was conceived. We are certain that bigger things lay before them in the future! And we look forward to seeing more “Michelles” and “Adams” pushing the limits of their scholarship and discovering new horizons.
For students of middle and high school age considering an NHD project in 2014, the HHFO is a good place to get their feet wet. Scheduled for October 11, 2013, the HHFO necessarily puts students on track to have a very polished version of their project completed months in advance of the spring NHD competition. Moreover, they have the opportunity to receive feedback from some of the very same people who will be judging those NHD entries, so they are able to further refine their projects. One of the things prospective NHD participants need to keep in mind is that, unlike the HHFO, the NHD has yearly themes. In 2014, the theme will be “Rights and Responsibilities in History.” As students begin researching their topics they may want to reflect on how their subjects relate to the history of rights and responsibilities. The NHD has published a very helpful essay designed to assist students in understanding how to examine their subject matter with respect to this year’s theme.
We hope that more area homeschooling parents encourage their children to tackle the challenge of events like the HHFO and/or the NHD. More than burdensome make-work or unnecessary distractions, these events can have powerful and transformative effects on young scholars.
If you would like to register your student or students in the 2013 Homeschool History Fair of the Ozarks you can obtain the necessary form here. If you are interested in National History Day in Missouri, you may contact Gail Emrie, Regional Director, at 417.836.5915, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.