The Gilder Lehrman Institute presents an annual essay contest for Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School students in grades 6–12. Students examine the nation’s most divisive conflict through letters, speeches, songs, photographs, newspapers, military orders, and other documents, conducting research in primary as well as secondary sources. 

Prizes

High School

  • First Place: $1,000 to the student and $500 to the school
  • Second Place: $750 to the student
  • Third Place: $500 to the student
  • Honorable Mention: $100 to seven honorable mention students
  • In addition, the student with the top entry from each school will receive a Gilder Lehrman publication to recognize their achievement. The school with the most entries and the school with the highest average judges’ score (minimum 10 entries) will each receive a special certificate and pack of materials.

Middle School

  • First Place: $300 to the student
  • Second Place: $200 to the student
  • Third Place: $100 to the student
  • In addition, the student with the top entry from each school will receive a Gilder Lehrman publication to recognize their achievement. The school with the most entries and the school with the highest average judges score (minimum 10 entries) will each receive a special certificate and pack of materials.

NEW Documentary Film Category

This year, students have the option of submitting a written essay or an entry in our new Documentary Film category. Top films will be well researched, well organized, and edited in a manner that is clear, articulate, and visually impactful. We strongly encourage collaboration between language arts and social studies departments to assist students with all aspects of the writing process, and between social studies and arts teachers to assist students with aspects of documentary film production and editing.

  • First Place: $1,000 and an archive of great Civil War documentaries to the student
  • Second Place: $750 to the student
  • Third Place: $500 to the student

Submission Requirements

The 2017–2018 Civil War Essay Contest will open in November. Additional information, contest forms, a scoring rubric, and other important details on submissions can be found in the 2017–2018 Civil War Essay Contest information packet.