2020 Essay Contest
2020 Contest Theme

“How did your ancestor(s) break barriers in history?”

Divisions and awards

Divisions (grade during Spring 2020):

School Grade Level Award
Middle School 6th - 8th grade $500
High School 9th - 12th grade $1000
College/Continuing Ed. 12th grade - 24 years old $1500
Rules For All Divisions:
Qualified contest participants
  • Age requirements: entering 6th grade through age 24
  • Participant may be either a:
    • Student in South Carolina (requires faculty sponsorship to represent your school)
    • SMDSC member sponsored relative who lives outside of South Carolina
  • Individuals may participate each year of age eligibility, regardless of whether they have received awards in the past
  • College Division (enrollment in 2 year or 4 year college/career school, or graduate school)
  • 12th graders with acceptance to enroll in higher learning may choose to participate at the High School or College level, but not both)

(see SMDSC website for helpful resources):

  • Middle and High School Divisions (this division requires sponsorship through the school you are attending (teacher or guidance counselor)
    • Write an essay (500-750 words) on your Mayflower ancestors/Plymouth history which relates to the theme: “How did your ancestors (including Mayflower passengers and their descendants) break barriers in history?”
    • OR
    • Summarize your 2020 National History Day project (300-500 words), any subject. Include access to any multi-media aspects of your project and reference these in your bibliography. Requires participation through your local and/or state affiliate of NHD; teacher/faculty sponsorship required for submission.
  • College/Continuing Ed Division: Write an essay (750-1000 words) on how one or more of your ancestors inspired you. The essay should be historically accurate and include a bibliography with primary references. The word limit does not apply to the bibliography.
Title Page:

A title page is required as the first page. Your title page must include the following:

  1. Title of your entry
  2. Your name
  3. The contest division you are submitting to (Middle, High, or College/Continuing Ed)
  4. The word count of your essay
  5. The school you attend and the name and contact information of the teacher or guidance counselor who is sponsoring you (for students outside of South Carolina, include your SMDSC sponsor’s name and their Member number)
  6. For National History Day related entries
    • Please indicate which levels you are participating with your project (e.g., Regionals, State, and/or Nationals);
    • List any attachments submitted with your summary of your project.,
  7. If applicable, please include the name(s) of your Mayflower passenger ancestor(s)
  8. Contact Info: mailing address, phone number, email address, and
  9. Parent or guardian name, if under 18 years old

All references in the bibliography should be referenced in the essay as footnotes or endnotes. Citations are used to credit the sources of specific ideas as well as direct quotations. Failure to credit sources is plagiarism and will result in disqualification. Style for citations and bibliographic references should follow the principles in a recent edition of one of the following style guides.

  • Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers
  • Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
Submission rules:

All sections must be 8.5 x 11-inch pages with 1-inch margins on all sides, double-spaced, and in 12-point font. Please submit in PDF format. Essays may be submitted in two different ways and are accepted any time on or before the due date.

  • Electronic submission to the Assistant of Education as an attached PDF by noon of June 5th, 2020.
  • OR Printed and mailed to the Assistant of Education with a postmark no later than June 5th, 2020.
Participants and their parents/guardians agree to abide by the following:

By submitting an essay, the entrant and their parents agree to be bound by all SMDSC policies governing the essay contest and also agree that all decisions with regard to winners and disqualifications made by SMDSC shall be final and binding. They also agree to use the award to further the educational goals of the applicant. We reserve the right to reject any or all submissions.

Essays must be the entrant’s own original work. Parents and teachers may not write or do research for the applicant but may provide assistance in learning how to do research. Plagiarism will result in disqualification.

The applicant must submit all the required documents at the same time. Receipt of submissions will be sent to applicants within 48 hours of receipt. Awardees will be notified within 8-10 weeks after the submission deadline, after all the judging is completed. Winning essays may be published in the Fall edition of the Palmetto Log, at the discretion of the Committee. Retain a copy of all documents as submissions will not be returned.