Essay Contest 2018-19

To all high school juniors and seniors in Jackson County!

If you would like to learn more about Rogue Valley history, explore a related subject that interests you, and write an essay that may win our prize, please read on:

Deadline:Entries must be received by Southern Oregon Historical Society by March 1, 2019 (email to or send to SOHS Library/106 N. Central, Medford, OR 97501)

THEME: Triumph and Tragedy in History
This is also the theme for Oregon History Day and National History Day 2019.

With the author's permission, SOHS will publish the winning essay online, alert the press to bring attention to the author's accomplishment, and invite the author with guests to a special event. 


  1. Select one or more photos from the Southern Oregon Historical Society to illustrate your theme:

    1. To select photos, you may come to the SOHS Library, which is open noon-4, Tuesday through Saturday OR

You may use the Photo Index at to search for photos. In some cases you will be able to view listed photos, but often you cannot. Just email to request an electronic copy of the photo(s) you select. Please limit each request to 5 photos and specify they are for this contest. SOHS will not charge for essay photos.

  1. Write an essay that is 1500-2500 words (not including bibliography, footnotes, etc).
  2. Be sure to reference your chosen photo(s) in the essay
  3. At least one primary source is required (see below)
  4. (Include an annotated bibliography that is separated into primary and secondary sources
  5. Include a title page that provides the title of your essay plus your name, school, address, email and phone number
  6. Include the title of your essay on each page, but do not include your name (to assure impartial decisions)
  7. Submit your essay with a photocopy of your chosen photograph to SOHS

You are encouraged to use the SOHS Archives for research. If that is not convenient, you may contact the Archives at for assistance, or visit a branch of the Jackson County Library to do research and/or request assistance.

Southern Oregon Historical Society Staff and Volunteers can help.
The role of the SOHS Library staff and volunteers is to help you discover resources and assist you in fact-checking your research and/or your thesis statement. You may wish to request assistance from an English or History teacher on other aspects of your essay. 


Use the links above to check the rules, guildelines and deadlines for Oregon History Day and National History Day, if you choose to participate in those events. (NOTE: You can participate as an individual student in Oregon History Day. National History Day is only open to winners of state contests)

Although the Oregon History Day contest will include websites, performances and documentaries, the SOHS Essay Contest is for that category only. 


A primary source is a first-hand account of an event or description of a time period, situation, etc. This includes diaries, journals, letters, photographs, etc. A newspaper account written at the time of an event is a primary source. Articles written in later years are not. Autobiographies, memoirs and oral histories are also primary sources if the author is discussing personal experiences. 

A transcript of a primary source is acceptable. SOHS also accepts quotations as a primary source, provided the bibliographical information about the primary source is given. For example, if an 1855 newspaper article is quoted in a current book, the newspaper name and publication date must be provided. 


Use this link to read descriptions of the online resources provided by SOHS. If you just hover over the RESEARCH entry on the menu, you will also view a list of the resources that are described. 

Links from the Oregon History Day Teachers page: (including help with footnotes and bibliographies)