Freshmen Lily Tierney and Megan Lewis teamed up to develop an informative and intriguing documentary on the 1899 strike by thousands of newsboys against the two most popular newspapers in the country. The teenagers won the American Labor History Award in this year’s National History Day contest at Huntington High School.
Ms. Tierney and Ms. Lewis titled their documentary “The Newsies Strike of 1899: The World Will Know.” It’s a nearly 10 minute long deep dive into the strike, which captivated the New York metropolitan area and the nation as a whole.
The July 1899 strike involved thousands of corner “newsboys” who prevented the New York Journal and the New York World, the two largest newspapers in the country at the time, from being distributed. The strike was really extraordinary since it consisted of relatively young children doing battle with legendary publishing icons Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. The strike had to do with the treatment of the newsboys, their compensation and overall working conditions.
“Lily and I really went around while choosing the project,” Ms. Lewis said. “We both loved the Newsies; both the show and the history behind it. Since the topic was communication we thought it was a perfect opportunity to use what we already knew of the Newsies and dive even deeper into everything that surrounded these strikes. I think that it came out well and we used the best of our abilities to make this project come together. I was pleasantly surprised that we won the American Labor History Award, but also grateful to win this award and to educate people on this topic.”
This year’s National History Day theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Participants in the competition were invited to submit work in a variety of formats from individual and group exhibits and websites to historical papers and individual and group documentaries.
“I was in a production of ‘Newsies’ when I was younger and was so interested in the whole idea of such young kids rising up and using their voices,” Ms. Tierney said. “When Megan and I saw the topic was communication, we realized how well the Newsies strike fit that description. We used a lot of old newspapers from the exact dates of the strikes and from those were able to gain very valuable firsthand accounts of the events. We worked very hard on the project and were quite excited with how well the documentary turned out. As for the American Labor History Award, we were so happy to be able to bring some light on such an interesting story.”
Click on this link to view the documentary.