The Emancipation Proclamation: Contest and Conversation

In tandem with today being Constitution Day, the National Endowment for the Humanities will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation through a series of events. (Abraham Lincoln issued the Proclamation 150 years ago this Saturday — Sept. 22, 1862 — and it went into the effect the following New Year’s Day.) You can learn more about it — and see some Proclamation-related resources — at

We’ll just highlight a couple of activities, one of which is coming up in a few hours:

Student Contest

If you’re over 18 years old and currently enrolled as a high school, two- or four-year college, or graduate student, you’re eligible to enter the NEH’s student contest:

Creatively respond to or reinterpret a historical document(s) from either the Freedmen and Southern Society Project or Visualizing Emancipation (both NEH-funded sites), citing the primary source you are using. Possible submission formats include, but are not limited to: a short essay, a first-person narrative, a letter, a one scene play, a poem, a blog post, a video, an original song, or a digital recording.

Submissions are due October 5th. The first place, second place, and honorable mention winners will have their work published on the NEH website, and receive cash prizes and a two-night trip to Washington (with a guided tour of the Smithsonian).

Live Interactive Panel Discussion

Today at 1:30pm EDT (12:30pm for those of us in the Twin Cities), the National Museum of American History in Washington will host a panel discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation featuring leading historians Eric Foner, Thavolia Glymph, Gary Gallagher, Christy Coleman, and Edward Ayers. From the event description:

The historians will recreate the national scene and the dilemmas facing Americans on Sept. 22, 1862 without drawing on their knowledge of what would unfold over the next few months and years. Perspectives from the White House, enslaved people from the South, military personnel, Frederick Douglass, Northern free blacks, and their allies will be highlighted in this presentation.

Viewers around the country will be able to ask questions by e-mailing them to or by Tweeting them to @NEHemancipation.


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