An eighth grader from James Bridger Middle School in Independence has designed a website that will compete in a national contest.
Katharine Moseley recently participated in the state level of the National History Day competition at the University of Missouri and was selected as one of two finalists in the web page category. She has now advanced to the national level competition, which will be held at the University of Maryland June 15-19.
“I never thought that my project would get this far,” said Moseley. "It feels great."
The National History Day contest is where students from around the world choose their own topic of historical study and research documents and artifacts based on a theme of “Rights and Responsibilities.” Students then present their work in a variety of ways, ranging from museum-type exhibits, video documentaries, original performances of a particular historic event or traditional research papers, in a series of regional and state competitions.
Moseley chose to design a web page filled with text, graphic photos and video clips for her project because she is “kind of a geek,” she said, laughing.
The history topic that Moseley selected to research and later form into a website was the Triangle-Shirtwaist Fire of 1911. She said the tragic fire killed 146 people, mostly women and girls as young as 13 years of age, in a garment factory on the eighth, ninth and 10th floors of the Asch Building in New York City.
“Most of the women braved the flames, while more than 60 girls jumped to their deaths from the eighth story windows,” she said about the event.
Moseley said the reasons why she chose such a grim moment in our nation’s history was because she is opinionated and passionate about women’s rights.
“It was a very interesting topic and fun to express what you learned.”
She added the garment factory was essentially a sweatshop that made blouses that employed many girls from immigrant families. There was only one fire escape and that the doors were locked at all-times to prevent employees from smuggling product.
After the fire, she said the proprietors of the garment factory “grossly profited” from the fire by collecting $60,000 in insurance money, a large sum at the time.
“Only 23 families of the victims sued for loss of a relative and the courts only awarded them $75 each.” She added what the proprietors of the factory had to pay to victims’ families was just 3 percent of the $60,000 they collected in insurance.
According to the website that she made, which can be viewed at www.58835922.nhd.weebly.com, it helped changed America for the better by transforming labor laws, safer working conditions and restricting the amount of hours a teen may work.
And besides blaming the owners of the factory, she said she also learned another important component of the Triangle incident: Consumer responsibility.
“Do consumers support companies that treat their workers unfairly and put them in unsafe conditions by buying their products?” Moseley asked.
Moseley said she has been researching and creating the website since November of last year. She also said that she will improve it a bit before the national competition in June.
“It’s basically an international competition," she said. "Students from as far away as Australia will be participating. I received a bag of trading buttons at the state competition to share with the international students who will be there.”
Admittedly, Moseley says history actually isn't her favorite subject in school. But she added that any subject can pique a student’s interest if a teacher can make a lesson fun and exciting.
Although being an expert of the Triangle-Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, Moseley said she has more creative ambitions other than pursuing a more academic endeavor in the future.
“I want to get involved in music,” she said.