There are multiple Special Awards offered in addition to the History Day contest awards.

Washington History Day students whose projects qualify for the State Contest may apply for special awards in up to three categories. Students must submit one application packet for each category in which they would like their project to be considered for an award. Group projects will submit for awards together (except for the WSHS Teen Historian award), and prizes will be shared among team members.

Each application packet must include:

  • Your virtual project submission (including all written materials)
  • A brief letter of interest that explains why your project should win an award in this category

Deadlines and specifics are updated each year. For updated information about Special Awards, contact Hannah Tofte, Washington History Day State Coordinator, at

Washington State Teen Historian Award

The Washington State Teen Historian Award is sponsored by the Washington State Historical Society and is available to senior division (grades 9-12) students competing in the Washington History Day State Contest. The winning student will receive:

  • A $500 cash prize.
  • A volunteer summer residency with the Washington State Historical Society, working with our professional staff.

Our team will support the Teen Historian in adapting and expanding elements of their History Day project for possible use by the Washington State History Museum. A few examples of Teen Historian project adaptations include (but are not limited to):

  • Editing a documentary for potential use in future museum exhibits
  • Writing a performance script for use in elementary school curriculum
  • Collecting and/or transcribing an oral history to be archived in the WSHS collection
  • Researching the WSHS collection and developing artifact lists for the exhibitions team

The student’s scope of work will vary depending on their topic and project category. The total number of residency hours for the summer will range from 10 to 20 hours and WSHS staff will work with the student to set the work schedule. The residency may take place on-site at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, or remotely for students who live outside of Pierce County.

Students must apply for this award individually, even if they competed as part of a group. However, group members may participate in the winning student’s residency work if they choose. The student must have written permission from all group members to use the group’s project as part of the residency.

Additional Special Awards from the Washington State Historical Society

The Washington State Historical Society sponsors two Special Awards for Washington State History Day participants. These awards are open to student applicants in all divisions and categories. They include:

  • Outstanding Entry, Junior Division, $200 prize
  • Outstanding Entry, Senior Division, $300 prize

To apply for any of the WSHS Special Awards, send your questions and application packet to

Teen Historian Award Winners and their Projects

2021 Teen Historian: Amelia Chiu

Amelia Chiu
Individual Paper, Senior Division
2021 NHD Theme: Communication in History-The Key to Understanding

Amelia’s historical paper, The Dutch Encounter: How Miscommunications in the New World Led to an Era of Exploitation, focused on the interactions between the Dutch settlers and the existing American Native populations in the early 1600s.

Read The Dutch Encounter

Amelia’s WSHS Residency

Amelia will adapt her work to compare the Anglo-American viewpoint to that of Washington’s native tribes. Based on her additional research, she will write a historical journal article.

2020 Teen Historian: Jacob Gannon

Jacob Gannon
Team project with Alexis Schallock and Ivy Pete
Group Documentary, Senior Division
2020 NHD Theme: Breaking Barriers in History

Jacob’s team created a detailed project and documentary film about the Elwha Dam and its eventual removal: Freeing the Elwaha: Setting the Standard for Breaking the Nation’s River Barriers.

The group documentary focused on the political, ecological, and cultural aspects of the Elwha Dam project and the team’s research included contacting the American Rivers Organization president, Bob Irvin; USGS research geologist, Amy East; and USGS ecologist, Jeffrey Duda. The team’s work in producing the film was done virtually, without access to their schools, due to COVID-19.

See Freeing the Elwha

Jacob’s WSHS Residency

Jacob and his team worked with the WSHS programs team to create a free, live, online public program during which the team described their work, screened their film, and answered questions. That program can be viewed here.

2019 Teen Historian: Elizabeth Fu

Elizabeth Fu
Individual Exhibit, Senior Division
2019 NHD Theme: Triumph and Tragedy in History

Elizabeth created an exhibition about the history of the Pike Place Market, including its relationship to Japanese incarceration during World War II resulting from Executive Order 9066, and the eventual rehabilitation of the structures and space we know as Pike Place Market. Her exhibition was presented at the History Day competition on a trifold with accompanying artifacts and a video presented on a tablet.

WSHS History Day Awards

Elizabeth at the 2019 National History Day competition.

Elizabeth’s WSHS Residency: Working with Gwen Whiting, WSHS exhibitions curator, and the WSHS Collections staff, Elizabeth adapted her exhibition into a gallery exhibit that was on public view at the Washington State History Museum, complete with text panels and artifacts.