Mclean Contributionship Educational Outreach Initiative

1st Annual Amy Matilda Cassey Essay Contest Guidelines & Rules:


  • Entries must be original and unpublished work. By submitting work to this contest, the student confirms that they are the author.
  • One research essay per student. All essays must be uploaded as a PDF format.
  • An online submission application must be fully completed in order for consideration: student’s name, address and contact information, high school name and address, and grade level.
  • Do not place your name or your school’s name on any of the pages of the essay. Only the registration form should include this information.
  • Faxed, emailed, or mailed essays will not be permitted unless special consideration is approved by the committee. Contact an LCP staff member if assistance is needed.
  • Be sure the file is named in the following format: LastName_FirstName.pdf (example: Smith_Jane.pdf)
  • All essays must be submitted through the following link between February 1, 2019- May 1, 2019.
  • Submitting to the contest signals agreement to all contest rules, assent to publication and assent to public recognition as a 1st and 2nd place winner in electronic and print media. *The 1st and 2nd place winning essays will be announced and produced in a digital and/or print publication and circulated at the Juneteenth Freedom Seminar.

Length, Format & Sources:

  • Required length should be between 1,000 to 1,500 words.
  • All essays must be written following MLA format guideline with a reference page. The appropriate guideline should be followed for: 1) font size and style; 2) margin and indentation; 3) in-text documentation, and 4) list of works cited.
  • Though the use of secondary sources are not required, use and proper citation of at least three primary sources from the Library Company of Philadelphia collection are required.

Content & Judging:

  • Since this contest promotes the utilization of the records at the Library Company of Philadelphia, all participants must utilize the digital collection to align with the mission of this contest: to stimulate further interest in the study of African American history and connect our scholarship and collections to the world around us. These items can be found here:
  • The decision will be made no later than June 3, 2019 and prize winners will be notified shortly after that date. All decisions are final.
  • Select submissions, including the winning essay will be announced at the Juneteenth Freedom Seminar at the reception directly preceding the formal presentation, which will feature Dr. Ibram Kendi of American University. *The 1st and 2nd prize winners must be present for the seminar to accept awards: June 20, 2019.


  • Open to Greater Philadelphia Region high school students from 9th-12th grade.

Please direct any questions or concerns to the African American History Subject & Reference Librarian, Jasmine Smith at or 215-456-3181.

The Library Company of Philadelphia, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund

This program is supported in part by the Library Company’s McLean Contributionship Educational Outreach Initiative and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The McLean Contributionship Educational Outreach Initiative was funded through the Light and Liberty Endowment Campaign for the Program in African History.

The Program in African American History brings together scholars and interested members of the public to explore and discuss every aspect of the experience of people of African descent in the Americas from the beginnings of European colonization through 1900.  For more than forty years, the African Americana collections of the Library Company have helped nurture and sustain rich scholarship that has added dramatically to our knowledge and understanding of that experience—and public exhibitions, lectures, and programs have sought to involve the broadest possible audience.

A submission packet and materials on the theme will become available on or before the second week of December.

To learn more about this essay contest and how to receive a packet, please contact the African American History Subject & Reference Librarian, Jasmine Smith at or 215-456-3181.