Texas History Day

Student Oral History Award

TOHA recognizes outstanding use of oral history in junior and senior individual documentaries entered in the state's annual history fair contest, held the first weekend in May, in Austin. Texas History Day is sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, which allows associations like TOHA to present special awards to entries that reflect the particular interests of the organization.

We appreciate the gifts of time and expertise given by our Texas History Day special award judges. To win the TOHA award, students must interview at least three people and demonstrate use of the interview materials in their documentaries. First-place winners receive a gift card, and first- and second-place winners also receive a TOHA medal and certificate.

On April 29, 2017, in Austin, TOHA recognized the successful use of oral history research by five students in the creation of historical documentaries highlighting the annual theme, “Taking a Stand in History”. Serving as judges for the TOHA award were Adrienne Cain, Amy Sielaff and Steven Sielaff.

In the junior division, Norah Rami of Sartartia Middle School in Sugarland (teacher Brandy Spurlock) earned first place for her documentary "Oveta Culp Hobby: From Media to Military." Norah is familiar to TOHA, having placed first in the junior division oral history award in 2016. Norah conducted five interviews to research the professional and personal sides to Oveta Culp Hobby. In her process paper, Norah stated “I decided to focus on Oveta’s use of media communication skills to promote the creation of the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) during World War II and stand up for their equal rights among a field of men.”

Anna Yellen of Wiggs Middle School in El Paso (teacher Adriana Jiminez) earned second place in the junior division for her documentary on the life and career of Billie Jean King titled "Billie Jean King: Taking a Stand for Women's Rights in Sports". Anna conducted two interviews, one being with Margaret Varner Bloss—a friend and former tennis player who played with Billie Jean King. Anna stated that her documentary fit this year’s theme due to King’s work for equal pay and respect for women’s sports.

Honorable mention for the junior division was awarded to Ansley Gibson of ATLAS Academy in Waco (teacher Shana Lyles) for her documentary “Dorothea Dix: Taking a Stand for the Mentally Ill”. For her project, Ansley interviewed two mental health professionals about the changes and impact Dorothea Dix made in the field of mental health and illness. Ansley stated, “Dorothea Dix was immeasurably influential with all of her work with the mentally ill. She took a stand when many people turned their backs on the helpless and afflicted.”

In the senior division, Devyn Moore of Young Women's Leadership Academy in San Antonio (teacher Emily Hartman) earned first place for her documentary “Dolores Huerta: Si Se Puede”. In her documentary, Devyn showed how instrumental Huerta was to the United Farm Workers and equal rights for Hispanics. Devyn conducted interviews with individuals who had worked and marched with Huerta during her active years. In her paper, she states “Dolores Huerta never stayed in any of the molds that society had created for her”.

Honorable mention in the senior division was awarded to Kayla Santiago of Falfurrias High School in Falfurrias (teacher David Salinas) for her documentary “Taking a Stand Against Homophobia: The Stonewall Riots”. In her documentary, Kayla explored discrimination against Manhattan’s LGBT community, which ultimately led to the riots at the Stonewall Inn. For her project, she interviewed an individual who lived in the community and recalled the impact of the riots. Kayla stated that the current political climate motivated her to explore this subject.  

Congratulations to the well-deserving students who qualify for and win the TOHA Texas History Day Award!