Behind-The-Scenes Writing Contest: Tell The Stories Behind Our Collections!

What is the story behind these shoes?

Ask any historian or curator why they do what they do, and they’ll probably answer that they want to tell a story. Most of the time we don’t know the people behind the objects in our collection, and even if we do it’s just a name, a date, a title. We don’t know what the Beekmans were thinking when they bought their coach. We don’t know what George Washington dreamed of when he slept on his cot at Valley Forge. We argue over what Keith Haring was trying to convey in his painting of the Pop Shop. The best we can do is gather as much information as we can, and imagine. Which is exactly what we want you to do.

We want you to come to the New-York Historical Society, take a look around, and find your favorite object in our collections. Once you’ve learned a little about it, write us a story! Here are the rules:

1. We’re looking for a story of around 1,000 words based on any object in the New-York Historical Society’s collections, whether it’s what one Women’s Suffrage marcher thought as she put on her “Votes for Women” pin, or the life of a silver spoon made by a slave and used in a rich family’s house. But don’t worry too much about word count; write as much as makes sense to your story! Entrants should be thirteen (13) years or older.

2. Please submit entries by April 30, 2012 to jaya.saxena@nyhistory.org, subject “Behind-The-Scenes Writing Contest.” Include your full name and e-mail address.

The winner will receive free admission for a subsequent visit to the New-York Historical Society, and a copy of When Did The Statue of Liberty Turn Green? : and 101 Other Questions About New York City. The top three entries will be posted on the blog!

If you know any young writers looking to hone their skills, take a look at the Writing Workshop: Historical Fiction of the Civil War. In partnership with Writopia Lab, this two-day workshop presents kids ages 8-14 with artifacts on display from that era and invites them into the museum library to view documents, maps and letters from the collection not currently on display. Then, they’ll use these resources to write stories about the Civil War.



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