Researching the Empire State Writing Competition

Deirdre Joyce - January 7th, 2016

Users of and contributors to New York Heritage Digital Collections from Buffalo to Montauk know that their state has a unique and rich history. This year, the Empire State Library Network (ESLN) invites those who are interested in further investigating, exploring, and expanding their understanding of New York’s diverse past to participate in its first Researching the Empire State Writing Competition.


The purpose of the Researching the Empire State Writing Competition is to encourage original research and publication around cultural, social, and political topics of New York history which makes use of the primary source digital collections that have been developed by the Empire State Library Network, specifically: New York Heritage Digital Collections and its newspaper counterpart, New York State Historic Newspapers. Prospective authors are encouraged to augment their research through use of additional scholarly resources, which they can access via the myriad libraries, archives, and historical societies found throughout New York State.


Submittals must represent original, primary research concerning historical events, persons, institutions, or organizations from within New York State. Submittals must be no less than 2,000 words, and no more than 35,000 words. Previously published research is not eligible. There will be one award, consisting of a certificate, publication on the ESLN web site, and a $1,000 cash prize. The winner will also be awarded registration to the New York State Archives Conference in Plattsburgh, NY in June 2016, and will be invited to present their research at that venue.


Submittals must be digital, double-spaced, and will not be returned. Submittals must include the researcher’s name, address, and telephone number. Each submittal must have a title. Illustrations are permitted, as are oral history resources. Citations and bibliographies must follow standard style guides.

Judging Criteria: (In order)
  1. Significant use of the ESLN’s digital resources:
    • New York State Historic Newspapers
    • New York Heritage
  2. Use of other relevant scholarly resources
  3. Depth and Quality of Scholarship
  4. Originality of Topic and Treatment

A panel of experts will judge the submittals based on the above criteria.


All entries must be received by 4 pm, April 1st, 2016. Winner will be recognized at the New York Archives Conference, June 8 – Friday, June 10, 2016; Plattsburgh, NY, at State University of New York College at Plattsburgh.

To Enter:

Researching the Empire State Writing Competition entries should be in Microsoft Word or PDF format, and emailed to: The complete list of guidelines may be found on the Empire State Library Network’s website at