Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest

Children from grades three through six are invited to participate in the Margaret Thompson Essay contest through their schools. Essays are written covering a specific theme. Each year hundreds of essays are judged by community members. Prizes are awarded by the City Council at an ice-cream social in the garden of the Los Altos History Museum.

Winners at each grade level receive $50 for first place, $30 for second place and $20 for third place. All entrants receive a certificate of participation. In addition to individual prizes, the school with the most winners will be awarded a trophy.

For information on entering the contest, contact your elementary school. Home-schooled children may contact Los Altos School District. To volunteer for judging or preparation of awards contact Historical Commissioner Janis Ahmadjian-Baer at (650) 968-1395 or by email at

2017 Essay Contest

Theme: Native Californians:  Food Lessons Learned From the Past and Applications to Today

The Los Altos History Museum’s current exhibit, “Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider:  A California Indian Feast,” explores traditional California Indian food sources and their extensive system of environmental knowledge underlying their use of food resources.  The exhibit highlights the importance and continuing use of native foods in current California Indian communities.  It also examines contemporary issues of eating locally grown foods, sustainability, nutrition, and environmental health.  Foods important in the lives of Native Californians include fish, shellfish, seaweed, meat, vegetables, berries, fruits, flowers, nuts, seeds, and salt. 

Every family eats food that is traditional to their culture.  How could you apply past lessons learned from Native Californians to the current way your family eats today?  Keeping in mind environmental issues of today, how can you apply these food lessons to your daily life?

Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest Documents

2017 Cover Sheet
2017 Essay Prompt
General Instructions MTEC 2017
Rubric for Essay Contest 2017