Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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The Martha Plassmann Prize

Sponsored by the Montana Historical Society, the Martha Plassmann Prize is a $500 cash award and a certificate from the Montana Historical Society. The prize will be awarded to one, well-researched National History Day entry by a Montana student or team that utilizes the digitized newspapers available either on the web site Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers or on the website Montana Newspapers. Published by the Library of Congress, Chronicling America currently has nearly eight million pages from U.S. newspapers published during the period 1836–1922. This extraordinary resource provides historians with keyword-searchable reporting, advertisements, literature, comics, and more. Published by the Montana Historical Society, Montana Newspapers contains over contains 400,000 pages from over 70 Montana town, county, school and tribal newspapers dated 1883-2015, and it is continually adding new titles.

How to Apply

Ask your teacher or National History Day coach to submit your entry for the Martha Plassmann Prize.


The Martha Plassmann Prize will be awarded to one entry, whether created by an individual or a team, that best demonstrates a clear understanding and use of newspapers as a primary source. Entries from any grade level and in any category will be considered. Judging is independent of any other prizes that may be awarded at the statewide National History Day competition.

Judging will evaluate the entry's process paper, annotated bibliography, and presentation at the statewide National History Day competition. How well the digitized newspapers were used as well as the overall quality of the project will be considered.

Possible criteria include:

  • range of newspaper items cited
  • thoughtful interpretation of newspaper items cited
  • overall contribution of the newspaper items to the project

Each Montana Newspaper or Chronicling America newspaper item utilized in the project must be noted in the Primary Sources section of the Annotated Bibliography and follow proper NHD citation guidelines for web content. Acceptable items are not limited to newspaper reportage. They include advertisements, editorials, images, literary prose, poetry, cartoons, comic strips, letters to the editor, government announcements, or any other content that appears in the newspapers.

If no entry meets the minimum requirements, the prize will not be awarded.

About Martha Plassmann

Martha Edgerton Rolfe Plassmann arrived in Montana Territory in 1863, at the age of thirteen. Although her family remained in the territory for only two years before returning to their native Ohio, Plassmann forged a lifelong connection with Montana. As an adult, she lived in Great Falls for two decades, raising seven children and serving briefly as editor of The Great Falls Leader. After being widowed for the second time, Plassmann supported herself and her children as a working journalist, authoring hundreds of articles about Montana. She died in 1936 at the age of 86. Learn more by perusing the Guide to the Martha Edgerton Plassmann Papers 1863-1939, held at the Montana Historical Society.