Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mrs. Roberts Wins History Award

"An annual award, History Educator Hall of Fame is presented to the teachers, one in each county, who are the most effective in teaching history of the region..."
Education Manitoba - Volume 2 by Eileen Pruden (1975)

Mrs. Martha Marie (Beck) Roberts,
was the recipient of the first annual
Red River Valley History Educator
 Hall of Fame Award
, 1972
[for Kittson County...]
Among the Red River Valley Historical Society's many projects over the years was establishment of liaisons between various historical organizations, educational institutions and individuals, and sponsoring a high school historical essay contest...

[From Red River Valley Historical Society Records collection at The Institute for Regional Studies (NDSU)]

The contest began as the “Historical Research Essay Contest" in 1965.  It was sponsored in the schools of the Red River Valley of Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.

In a letter regarding the 1968 contest the stated purpose was:
“A. To alert youth of the Red River Valley to the wonders of its rich pioneer heritage; 
B. To acquaint our youth, through interviews and other research, with the fascinating lives of those who developed the Red River Valley;
C. To encourage scholarly research and writing among our high school students; and
D. To record matters of historical interest for the benefit of future generations.” 
Most years a specific theme was chosen by the society. In 1966 and 1967 it was biographies of local pioneers or places of historic interest, and in 1968 an artifact of historical interest was added.

In 1965 only four essays were submitted, but quickly grew to well over 100 a year. The first place award the first year went to Theresa Scholand of Mount St. Benedict Academy, Crookston, Minn. The 1966 winner, Rebecca Hole, was the first to be published in the society’s periodical, the Red River Valley Historian. Later years they established winners in junior high and senior high categories Future winners were published in issues of the Historian, succeeded by its Red River Valley Heritage Press. Essay contests continued into the 1990s with submissions after 1987 retained by the Red River Valley Heritage Society at their offices at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead, MN.

[From Red River Valley Heritage Society Essay Contest Entries, 1965-1987 collection, Institute for Regional Studies & University Archives, NDSU) Collection number: Mss 5, 44, 69, & 252]

Dennis Matthews
[Senior Portrait 1944]
The inimitable, amazing, Mrs. Roberts. She was a memorable teacher in the best sense of the word. She expected the best and thus propelled you to give your best, time after time. For some of us, with her reputation proceeding her, we arrived in her classroom intimidated. For those that gave her a chance, they found out she was tough but fair. She was definitely...unforgettable.

It was Mrs. Roberts who promoted and inspired the students in her school in Humboldt, Minnesota, to find and preserve their local history via the Historical Essay program.

A portion of all the essays written for this contest -
those written by Humboldt-St. Vincent High School students
- were preserved by Dennis Matthews on the
RED RIVER VALLEY website.