2012 Civil War Essay Contest Winners Announced

NEW YORK, NY (April 11, 2012)—The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has announced the 2012 Civil War Essay Contest winners. Open to high school and middle school students in Gilder Lehrman Affiliate Schools across the country, the contest is designed to enhance knowledge of the Civil War era and reward outstanding research and writing. One hundred eighty-four high school students and forty-eight middle school students, representing the top essays submitted from more than more than seventy-five schools, participated in the contest.

“To quote Isaiah Berlin, ‘To understand history is to understand what men made of the world in which they found.’ It is very important to our children’s education to teach them to utilize critical thinking skills when analyzing the past,” said Anthony Napoli, Director of Education at the Gilder Lehrman Institute. “These young, bright minds have written essays that demonstrate an understanding of conflicts during the Civil War era through the interpretation of primary and secondary sources. We are thrilled to honor these budding historians.”

The Gilder Lehrman Institute joins the Civil War Round Table of New York to co-sponsor the fourteenth annual essay contest for Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School students. Students examine the nation’s most divisive conflict through letters, speeches, songs, photographs, newspapers, military orders, and other documents, conducting research with primary as well as secondary sources. Winners were selected by a panel of jurors based on use of primary sources; clearness and originality of thesis; organization of the essay; correct documentation of sources; and quality of writing.

To find out more, visit Civil War Essay Contest.

High School Winners

First Place ($1,000 to the winner, $500 honorarium to the winner’s school):

Abraham Suriel, Yonkers International Baccalaureate Middle/High School, Yonkers, NY

Essay: “Private Citizens: Government Behind Closed Doors”

Teacher: Brigid McMaster

Second Place ($750):

Elizabeth Robertson, Los Altos High School, Los Altos, CA

Essay: “The Union’s ‘Other Army’”

Teacher: Michael Messner

Third Place ($500):

Cresonia Hsieh, Spanish River High School, Boca Raton, FL

Essay: “The African American’s War”

Teacher: Mr. Daub/Ms. Hoffman

Honorable Mentions ($100):

Philip Esterman, Spanish River High School

Aglaia Ho, Stuyvesant High School

Maris Tsamutalis, West Morris Central High School

Jacob Singer, Collegiate School

Monica Coscia, Montville Township High School

Lauren Robertson, Roanoke Rapids High School


Middle School Winners

First Place ($300):

Libby Dondero, Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill, Durham, NC

Essay: “The Unknown Battle of the Civil War”

Teacher: Spencer Dicks

Second Place ($200):

Vaughn Eviston-Jahnke, US Grant School, Milwaukee, WI

Essay: “A Soldier’s View”

Teacher: Carrie Felde and Darryl Alms

Third Place ($100):

David Carr, Summit Academy, Draper, UT

Essay: “Civil War Deserters: Cowards or Heroes?”

Teacher: Sara Olds


About the Gilder Lehrman Institute

Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all fifty states, including a website that features the 60,000 unique historical documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection, www.gilderlehrman.org. Each year the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and through them enhances the education of more than a million students. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.