Helping To Win a U.S. History Prize

Often members are curious about what came of small projects tendered through the PHA Employment Bulletin. In this short piece Jack Ford reports on one job he successfully completed for the client, albeit an unusual client.


On 27 March 2017, the PHA (Qld branch) forwarded a request for assistance from a New Orleans high school student, Zandra Zemmels. She had entered an American students history prize competition and she had, quite surprisingly chosen a non-American history topic: The Rats of Tobruk. She needed Australian historians to answer some questions to aid her in preparation of her history presentation. A few PHA (Qld) members responded to Zandra, including Jack Ford.

Having extensive knowledge on World War II, Jack was able to point Zandra to some Australian sources that, as an American, would have been unknown to her. After a series of email exchanges, Zandra requested that she interview Jack, via skype, for use in her video presentation. This presentation was for the Louisiana state finals, the first stage of the National Contest for National History Day. In preparation for the interview, Jack had Zandra formulate specific questions, which he could then research and answer succinctly during the skype interview. Zandra emailed six specific questions on 2 April and the interview was arranged for 4 April. At 10 am (Brisbane time), on Monday 3 April, Zandra Zemmels interviewed Jack Ford for nearly an hour. She followed-up on 4 April, with sending Jack a text of the interview for Jack to check and edit.

On Saturday 8 April, Zandra presented her video presentation to her state finals. She won First Place in the Louisiana section of this national history prize competition. She will be presenting a revised video presentation on this Australian military history topic to the national finals, which are to be held in Washington D.C. in June 2017. Zandra has requested that Jack Ford assist her with her script before the June finals. An American student may yet win the national U.S.A. students history prize, with a presentation on a purely Australian topic. We all wish GOOD LUCK to Zandra Zemmels in her June 2017 competition.


Dr Jack Ford