The deadline to enter the 2023 Student Writing Contest has passed. Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry this year! We look forward to announcing winners by April 14, 2023.

“Yet She Is Advancing”

In a speech introducing suffragist Susan B. Anthony, Sylvanie Williams, an African American educator, activist, and leader, compared the plight of African American women in Louisiana to flowers mistreated and trampled underfoot.

“Yet she is advancing," Williams declared, "and sometimes you find her farther on than you might have expected.”

It has been one hundred years since the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. Over those one hundred years, are Americans "farther on than you might have expected,” or have rights and freedoms in the United States taken a step back? What important achievements have been made over the last century? What rights have the United States protected and where do we continue to see rights threatened? What are the current or upcoming fights to protect rights in the future? Do you think civil rights activists like Sylvanie Williams would be proud of the last one hundred years of activism or would they ultimately be disappointed?   

For this year’s Student Writing Contest, The Historic New Orleans Collection asks you to answer some of the following questions in the form of a letter:  a letter to Sylvanie Williams. In this letter, you should express your feelings on the status of rights and freedoms in the United States from 1920 until today.  

  • You should inform Sylvanie Williams of achievements and accomplishments that you feel are important over the last century.  
  • Likewise, you may tell her too of setbacks and defeats.  
  • Names and dates are important, but this should not be a research paper. It should be a letter expressing your thoughts and feelings.  
  • What do you think: are we "farther on," or are we, as a nation, falling farther behind? 

Learn more about the life and work of Sylvanie Williams. 


Contest Guidelines 

  • The contest is open to all students in grades 6–12 in the United States and U.S. territories. 
  • Each student may submit only one entry. 
  • Each entry should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document or PDF. 
  • Each entry should be 750 words or less. 
  • Each entry must be a wholly original work composed by the submitter. Any entry that is found to be plagiarized in whole or in part will be immediately disqualified. 
  • The deadline to enter is 11:59p.m. CST on March 3, 2023. 

Contest Awards 

A judging panel of THNOC staff will select winning middle school (grades 6–8) and high school (grades 9–12) entries. The winning writers from each category will receive $350 for first place, $250 for second place, and $150 for third place. Honorable Mentions may also be awarded.  In addition, all winners’ entries will be published on THNOC’s website. 

Winners will be announced by April 14, 2023.


Contact Collin Makamson, Education Specialist

Interested in learning more about women’s suffrage in New Orleans?

Explore the virtual exhibition, “Yet She Is Advancing”: New Orleans Women and the Right to Vote, 1878-1970







Past Contests

2022 Student Writing Contest

2021 Student Writing Contest

2020 Student Essay Contest