District Contests

    At National History Day in Iowa District Contests across the state, students compete for a chance to advance to the National History Day State Contest to be held in Des Moines.

    Students competing in District Contests must compete at the contest hosted in their assigned region. All exceptions must be approved by the National History Day in Iowa State Coordinator.

    Grant Wood District

    This district is named for Grant Wood, the Iowa artist who created the famous “American Gothic” painting. His history and legacy span the district, from the one-room Antioch School he attended near Anamosa to his studio in Cedar Rapids to his home in Iowa City to a gallery of his work in Tipton. His stylized landscape paintings of the rolling landscape made a significant impact on the area’s arts and culture during his lifetime.

    Grant Wood District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline (Registration Closed) February 17
    Website Lockout March 3
    Papers Due March 3
    District Contest (Iowa City) March 17
    Websites Available March 21

    Historic Highways District

    The first automobile highways to connect the nation from west to east (Lincoln Highway) and north to south (Jefferson Highway) crossed through this district and intersected at the Reed-Niland corner in Colo. The area was a hub of activity that increased in the late 1920s following a long-fought battle to develop the Great Whiteway (now Highway 6), which ran from Chicago to Davenport, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Omaha.

    Historic Highways District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 7
    Website Lockout March 7
    Papers Due March 7
    District Contest (Pella) March 29
    Websites Available March 31

    Jesse James District

    On July 21, 1873, Jesse James and his gang staged the first robbery of a moving train near Adair. They had heard a Chicago and Rock Island train was transporting $75,000 of gold and made plans to derail the train just west of Adair. The train arrived and ran off the rails and after forcing the guard to open the safe, they found only $2,000 – the gold shipment was delayed! The gang escaped capture, but this bold robbery gave them national notoriety.

    Jesse James District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 6
    Website Lockout March 8
    Papers Due March 8
    District Contest (Lamoni) March 22
    Websites Available March 23

    Merle Hay District

    This district is named in honor of Glidden native, Merle David Hay, who voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 3, 1917, shortly after Congress declared war on Germany. He tragically made headlines six months later when Germans cut off a small detachment of Gen. John Pershing's men, including Hay, and he was killed in action. Hay was one of the first three Americans to die in France during World War I, on November 3, 1917. That same year, the road into Camp Dodge in Des Moines was named Merle Hay Road in his honor.

    Merle Hay District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 21
    Website Lockout March 24
    Papers Due March 24
    District Contest (Des Moines) April 8
    Websites Available April 11

    Mississippi River District

    Just as it has carved the physical landscape, the Mississippi River has shaped a remarkable path through the history of human settlement. For the first Native Americans, early European pioneers, and modern-day Iowans, the river has influenced the cross currents of migration, commerce, industry and recreation. Many of Iowa’s oldest towns hug the river’s west bank and reflect its rich history.

    Mississippi River District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline (Registration Closed) February 17 at 5:00 p.m.
    Website Lockout February 20
    Papers Due February 20
    District Contest (Davenport) March 6
    Websites Available March 7

    Montauk District

    This district is named for Montauk, the majestic home and farm of Iowa’s 12th Governor, William Larrabee. Larrabee served as the Governor of Iowa from 1886 until 1890 and then retired to Montauk, his family mansion in Clermont which is now a State Historic Site. The Larrabee family furnished and maintained this two-story 1874 mansion and estate for more than 100 years, adapting with the changing agricultural life. Larrabee and his wife were also committed to ensuring the children in their community received the best education possible and in 1912 built and donated the IDEAL School to the town of Clermont.

    Montauk District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline (Registration Closed) February 11
    Website Lockout March 18 (noon)
    Papers Due March 18
    District Contest (Decorah) April 1
    Websites Available April 3

    Prairie School District

    North-central Iowa is a trove of Prairie School architecture.The style's most prominent features are the horizontal lines that were thought to reflect the native prairie landscape. In Mason City alone, about 30 properties in this style are on the National Register of Historic Places, including a number by the famous Prairie School architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Historic Park Inn in Mason City is the only Frank Lloyd Wright hotel remaining in the world.

    Prairie School District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 15
    Website Lockout March 20
    Papers Due March 20
    District Contest (Forest City) March 31
    Websites Available April 3

    Sergeant Floyd District

    The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through northwestern Iowa from August 13 through 20, 1804. Sergeant Charles Floyd Jr. was the only member of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery Expedition to die on the journey. He died on August 20 just south of present-day Sioux City and was buried on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The region has documented the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the Sergeant Floyd River Museum, Sergeant Floyd Monument, Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, M.V. Sergeant Floyd inspection boat, Lewis and Clark State Park and keelboat, and numerous works of art in the area.

    Sergeant Floyd District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 15
    Website Lockout March 20
    Papers Due March 20
    District Contest (Sioux City) March 31
    Websites Available April 3

    Spirit Lake District

    Although most Iowans associate the state’s three Great Lakes – Spirit Lake, plus East and West Okoboji – with sunny summer vacations spent fishing, boating and riding the old wooden roller coaster at Arnolds Park, the area wasn’t always so carefree. Tensions between Native Americans and white settlers erupted into the Spirit Lake Massacre during the winter of 1857 and marred the state’s generally peaceful record of Native and white relations. The site’s Abbie Gardner Sharp Cabin became one of Iowa’s first tourist attractions and still stands as a haunting reminder of the state’s early struggles.

    Spirit Lake District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 13
    Website Lockout March 15
    Papers Due March 15
    District Contest (Storm Lake) March 30
    Websites Available April 3

    Sullivan Brothers District

    This district is named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers, natives of Waterloo, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy together, with the stipulation that they serve together. All were assigned to the USS Juneau, which was torpedoed during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and all five Sullivan brothers perished. As a direct result, the U.S. War Department adopted the Sole Survivor Policy (to protect families from losing multiple members in combat) and named a Navy ship for the brothers.

    Sullivan Brothers District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 6
    Website Lockout March 8
    Papers Due March 8
    District Contest (Waterloo)

    March 23 (Senior Divison)
    March 24 (Junior Division)

    Websites Available March 28

    Voltaire Twombly District

    This district is named for Voltaire Twombly, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts as a flag bearer for the 2nd Iowa Infantry at the Battle of Fort Donnelson (Tennessee) in the Civil War.

    Voltaire Twombly District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 21
    Website Lockout March 24
    Papers Due March 24
    District Contest (Ottumwa) April 7
    Websites Available April 10

    Western Trails District

    The region around Council Bluffs was a gateway to adventure and westward migration in the early to mid-1800s. In addition to the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveling along Iowa’s western border, pioneers followed the Oregon Trail, hopeful gold miners rushed along the California Trail, and Mormons trekked along the Mormon Trail to seek religious freedom in the Salt Lake Valley. Many of these early travelers began their journey at the Missouri River crossing at Council Bluffs.

    Western Trails District Schedule Date
    Registration Deadline March 1
    Website Lockout March 6 at 12:00 p.m.
    Papers Due March 3
    District Contest (Council Bluffs) March 18
    Websites Available March 20

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