Congratulations to the winners of our 2020 essay competition, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.
The 2023 American Ancestors Young Family Historians Essay Contest asks students across the nation to explore what they’ve learned about themselves, the community, and the nation by reflecting on a story from their personal family history. Students enrolled in grades 4–12 in public, private, parochial, and home schools across the nation are invited to participate.
We encourage teachers to use this essay contest as a class project. Use lessons from our free Family History Curriculum to help students explore their roots, and have students submit an essay as a final project. You can also download a flyer to promote the contest to your students.
Select and research a story from your family history. What have you learned about yourself, a community, and the nation from this story?
Who Is Eligible?
Students currently enrolled in grades 4–12 in public, private, parochial, and home schools in the United States.
April 1, 2023
Word Count (approximate):
Grades 4-6: 500 words
Grades 7-8: 750 words
Grades 9-12: 1,000 words
Number all pages
12 pt Times New Roman
1 inch margins left and right, top and bottom
Submission file must be a PDF
In addition, all winners and semifinalists will receive a one-year student membership to American Ancestors.
- Open to all public, private, parochial, and home school students in the United States.
- One entry allowed per student.
- An entry may have been submitted as an assigned school project, but still must fulfill all requirements.
- All entries must be the original work of an individual student, and must not have been published or submitted for publication elsewhere.
- All entries must be submitted through the online portal by April 1, 2023. Winners will be announced in early June 2023.
- American Ancestors reserves the right to publish any essay (or portion thereof) submitted to the competition. It will do so solely at its discretion, but full acknowledgment of authorship will be given. American Ancestors also reserves the right to use the winners’ names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval or compensation, except where prohibited by law.
Criteria for Judging
Students will not be judged on the specific details of their family history. Essays will be judged based on the following criteria.
Read the winning essays from the 2020 Young Family Historians Essay Contest
Essay Content (60%)
- Description of research process: Who did you talk to? Where did you search? What sources did you use?
- Claims supported with evidence and reasoning
- Inclusion of source citations (MLA or Chicago Style)
- Unique perspective
- Meaningful connections and lessons from the past
- Enthusiasm for historic content
Quality of Writing (40%)
- Clear introduction, body, conclusion
- Meets formatting requirements (see Submission Guidelines)