Library of Virginia    Encyclopedia Virginia
Virginia Women in History
2017 Student Writing Contest

Contest Overview

Virginia students in grades 6-12 are invited to honor outstanding women in Virginia history by participating in Encyclopedia Virginia and the Library of Virginia's Virginia Women in History student writing contest. Four winning essays will be chosen, two from students in grades 6-8, and two from students in grades 9-12.


Artist and social reformer Nora Houston was a tireless advocate for women's right to vote. Early in the twentieth century, Houston joined the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia and frequently spoke at its public meetings. She helped women register to vote after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. She was a founding member of the Virginia League of Women Voters, and as chair of its legislative committee she fought for laws to improve conditions for working women and children. She also worked to improve race relations in Richmond. In 1926 the National League of Women Voters named her one of twelve delegates to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance conference in Paris.

Suffragists like Houston believed that all voters should be informed about issues. When you are of voting age, how will you make sure that you can cast an informed vote? How can you ensure that others make informed decisions?

Contest Rules

Submit your 400-word essay by March 10, 2017, for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and $250 for your school!

  • Entries must be submitted online by March 10, 2017, to
  • Each entrant must be a 6th-12th-grade student at a public or private school in Virginia. Homeschoolers may also apply; the $250 school award can be applied to a homeschooler association if the winner's family has an active, dues-paying membership.
  • There will be four winning essays: two from students in grades 6-8, and two from students in grades 9-12.
  • All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  • Entry should not exceed 400 words.
  • Entries become the property of the Library of Virginia and will not be returned.
  • The Library of Virginia reserves the right to use the winners' names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval, or compensation, except where prohibited by law.


  • Deadline for entries is March 10, 2017.
  • Winners will be notified by March 17, 2017.
  • Winning essays will be posted to the Library of Virginia website on March 24, 2017.
  • Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 30, 2017, in Richmond.


  • Winning students will receive a Kindle Fire.
  • Winning students' schools will receive a cash award of $250.

Judging Criteria


Reflection of careful and thorough thought


Prompt questions answered and main idea clearly articulated


Relevant, quality details about important thoughts and concepts


Essay flows well and shows good word choice and structure


Correct use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Questions? Please call 804-692-3999 or e-mail