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DePaul Special Collections and Archives Supports the Chicago Metro History Fair

by Jamie Nelson 2/28/2014 11:57:00 AM

DePaul Special Collections and Archives deepened our commitment to the Chicago Metro History Fair this season, starting in December through collaboration with the Chicago Metro History Education Center (CMHEC). Our involvement has continued in our Reading Room with research assistance to area high school students, and will culminate in judging and feedback of student projects later this spring. 

The Chicago Metro History Fair is how Chicago students participate in National History Day, which is a nationwide history contest for junior high and high school students.  Chicago students begin with the Chicago Metro History Fair, and have a chance to advance to state and national levels.  The last few years, DePaul Special Collections and Archives have promoted our archival collections to area teachers at the Chicago Metro History Fair kickoff event at the Newberry Library, talking with teachers and providing them with information about our collections.  This year, Special Collections and Archives increased our involvement by partnering with Lisa Oppenheim of the CMHEC to offer a session specifically for teachers, focusing on Latino collections that could be used to examine this year’s theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in Chicago History.”

One evening in early December, teachers from nine schools gathered at the Richardson Library to hear Lilia Fernandez, Associate Professor at The Ohio State University and author of Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2012) talk about her own research in DePaul Special Collections and Archives.  Dr. Fernandez gave examples of the process, information content, and insight gained by working with primary sources in general, but with specific examples out of DePaul’s collections.  

Jamie Nelson and Liz (at teacher session)Teacher-Participants then moved to the Special Collections instruction room where Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts and Jamie Nelson gave a brief, interactive session on locating and using primary source materials.  Each teacher then investigated at least one of the featured collections, using prompts designed to assist them in their exploration of the materials, and to model the kinds of questions they could use to help their students analyze and properly cite primary source materials.  The collections selected for the evening, and featured on handouts and brochures distributed at the kickoff and on the web, included the Teresa Fraga Papers, Latino Institute Records, Latino Policy Forum Records, Mujeres Latinas en Accion Records, Young Lords Collection, Lincoln Park Conservation Association Collection, and DePaul University Archives.

Morgen and Liz (In teacher session)The event was a success, as evidenced by teacher feedback, with survey responses to “Best features of this activity were:”
•    “So glad for this partnership and the support DePaul is giving our students.”
•    “Such great resources and great supportive staff.”
•    “It was awesome, I wish I brought more teachers with me.”
•    “Hands on activity and lecture from Dr. Fernandez as well as Morgen and Jamie being available for questions.”
Ten History Fair students from four schools have traveled to our Reading Room to use our materials, and students from two additional schools have made contact for future visits.

 Linda and Ruben (teachers)Anyone with an “appreciation for student effort, an interest in history, and a commitment to quality education” can support the Chicago Metro History Fair by becoming a volunteer judge. There are a wide variety of project types (documentaries, performances, exhibits, websites, or research papers) and various dates and locations to volunteer, including DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus on April 5th.  For more information about the Chicago Metro History Fair, please visit

For more information about DePaul Special Collections and Archives, please visit If you’d like to learn more about Special Collections instruction for DePaul classes and students, please email Jamie Nelson at

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