SBTHP is featured in the National History Day “Ask an Expert” Series

By Anne Petersen

National History Day (NHD) is a nonprofit organization committed to encouraging the study and practice of history by high school students in the United States. They provide curriculum materials and support to schools to help students develop the skills to conduct historical research and writing. National History Day is most well-known for its annual National History Day Contest, when over 600,000 students across the United States compete locally and regionally, with the top candidates advancing to the national competition at University of Maryland College Park.

The Flores Adobe/Comandancia of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara in the early 1920s. Courtesy of the Presidio Research Center

In order to support and prepare students for the contest, National History Day provides teachers with a wealth of resources. One of these tools is a videos series called “Ask an Expert,” in which historians working in a variety of fields offer advice and suggestions to students about different aspects of historical work. I was pleased to be invited this year to create a video with NHD staff on the importance of looking at multiple perspectives in historical research.  

Crop of the site of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara from 1853 map by Vitus Wackenreuder.

NHD discovered the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) via the National Endowment for the Humanities, (NEH) one of their major partners. Last Fall SBTHP received an NEH CARES grant to support our 7th-grade school program, Where We Are From. NEH subsequently recommended SBTHP to National History Day.   

Many people assume that historians work in universities and write academic publications. This video allows SBTHP to help broaden students’ knowledge about where historians work and what they do by featuring our historical work at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. The video explores not only our preservation work, but also how students can explore history through the study of a place, including their own community, using its maps, architecture, and social history. We hope the video will also be helpful to local schools and will be incorporated into our future school programs.

Anne Petersen addresses why multiple perspectives are important to developing a rich understanding of historical events and topics. The video includes how maps and primary documents available at the SBTHP can be used to analyze multiple and competing perspectives in history. To learn more, click here

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