Georgia Teens Earn Gold Medal at National History Day Competition

“These were Mary’s things.  They’re real!” – Devin Snyder

Atlanta, Ga., July 13, 2016 –The Georgia Historical Society is proud to congratulate Devin Snyder and Mercy Koehler of Woodstock on their gold-medal-winning project, “Mary Musgrove: Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in the Life of an Indian Princess,” researched in part at the Georgia Historical Society Research Center.  The first-place prize was awarded at the 2016 National History Day competition held recently at the University of Maryland, with the theme “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”

Founded in 1974 at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, the National History Day Contest was created to inspire students to conduct original historical research. Devin and Mercy’s research into the life of Mary Musgrove took them to the Georgia Archives in Morrow and brought Devin to Savannah, where she spent two days at the Georgia Historical Society Research Center immersed in the many primary sources in the collection, including the Demeré Family Bible (MS 1702), dating to 1733, that belonged to Mary Musgrove.

“These were Mary’s things.  They’re real,” exclaimed Devin to her mother the first day of her research at GHS.

“As a teacher, I must say that the Georgia Historical Society was extremely helpful and explained how to get the most out of her research time in primary sources,” said Jennifer Snyder, Devin’s mother and teacher. “She was quickly acquainted with the tools available to her and quickly settled in with Mary Musgrove’s family Bible and other historical gems that she would find at GHS pertaining to Mary Musgrove. She spent two afternoons at GHS but could have easily done more.”

Over 600,000 students from around the world participate in the National History Day competition each year and must first win at both the regional and state level before moving on to the national competition.  Students compete in the categories of documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and websites.  The nearly 3,000 students who compete at the national level are an elite 1%, representing the best of all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, South Korea, South Asia, China, and Central America.  Devin and Mercy competed against 100 other students in the performance category with their dramatic interpretation on the life of Mary Musgrove.

“Devin’s enthusiasm was contagious and she was such a pleasure to work with,” said Lynette Stoudt, Director of the GHS Research Center. “Our staff was thrilled to work with such an enthusiastic young researcher in finding resources related to her project.”

Mary Musgrove (1700 – 1763) was the daughter of an Englishman and a Creek Indian mother.   Mary, a trader, used her biculturalism to serve as a cultural liaison and interpreter between General James Oglethorpe and the Yamacraw Chief Tomochichi, making her a pivotal player in the founding of the Georgia colony and beyond.

A video of Devin and Mercy’s dramatic interpretation of Mary Musgrove: Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in the Life of an Indian Princess can be seen on Sophia’s Schoolhouse, the video blog of GHS Education Coordinator Sophia Sineath.