Knight Essay Contest Rules



  1. This contest is open to all students who are United States citizens or legal aliens.  Contestants shall be attending public, parochial, or private high schools (including accredited home schools).   Contestants shall be in the Freshman, sophomore, junior or senior grade of study during the contest year.  The contest is conducted in three phases:   local (Chapter), state (State Society) and National.   The contest must be entered through a Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution near the student's residence.   In some cases, the contest may be entered at the State level (if the State does not have chapters or the chapters are not participating). Only one entry per student is permitted per contest year. If the State does not participate, then the essay may be submitted to the At Large judge listed on our website. The first place National winner is prohibited from participating in following years' contests.

The local date varies by location, so please check the deadline dates with your local contact as listed on the Contacts page.  Click here for CONTEST CONTACTS to locate your local contact and to request your local deadline information.


All submissions must be in the hands of the Chapter Knight Essay Chairmen or, in the case where the State Society does not participate, the At Large Judge Dr. Robert E. Danneman (bd3133atembarqmail [dot] com) by December 31st.
All Chapters must have their winning essays in the hands of their State Chairmen by the end of January.
State Chairmen should have their winning essays e-mailed to the National Chairman by the end of February, if not before.
E-mail Submissions, for the sake of time are preferred. U.S. mail within the time constraints are acceptable.
The National Chairman will notify all submitters by early April whether their entry was among the finalists. The actual winner will be informed in order to be able to attend the Congress and read their essay at the Youth Luncheon. The winning essay will be published in the SAR Magazine.
  1. The contest is for an original researched and proven topic written in English.  The topic of the essay shall deal with:  an event, person, philosophy, or ideal associated with the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, or the framing of the United States ConstitutionDuring the 2013-14 and 2014-15 contest years only, to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, contestants may also choose a topic that relates to Magna Carta and its influence on the Revolution or one or more of the Founding Fathers.  Students must source at least five (5) references with the minimum of three being published book sources to allow for verification of sources if necessary.  References from Encyclopedias or Internet sites will be accepted, but are not considered as part of the three published book sources.   If there are no book sources (i.e. all are from encyclopedias or internet sources) the essay will be disqualified.
  2. The essay must have four parts: A) title page, B) essay pages, C) bibliography (works cited), and D) contestant's biography. The title page, bibliography and contestant's biography must be listed on separate pages and no reference to the contestant's name or information can be part of the Essay pages or Bibliography. Please follow these rules exactly. Essays that do not conform to the rules may be immediately disqualified.
    1. The title page must include the title of the essay, contestant's name, address, telephone number, and email address (if available). In addition, the title page must include the name, address, and telephone number of the high school in which the contestant is enrolled, and the contestant's grade level.
    2. The essay must have a minimum of 800 words and not exceed 1,200 words (excluding title page, footnotes, bibliography page, and biography page). (Word counts based on a word processor are acceptable). The First page of the Essay must include the title of the essay. (No contestant information must appear on these pages as they are separated and distributed to the judges for grading to prevent possible grading bias.) The essay must be typed double-spaced on white bond paper. No bindings or special covers are needed. Graphics are not permitted. An original copy of the essay must be submitted. Poor quality copies will not be accepted. Plagiarism will be grounds for immediate disqualification.
    3. The essay and bibliography must be documented in accordance with the Modern Language Association publication, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (see or Kate L. Turabian's publication, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.
    4. The contestant's biography is limited to one page. Topics to be included in the biography are academic awards and achievements, school activities, community activities, and plans for college.
  3. Entries must be submitted to the Chapter/State deadline (usually by December 31 each year) (however some states have different deadlines therefore please contact the Chapter or State chairman to confirm the deadline and/or see the exceptions listed on our States contact webpage). The students must send their essay to the chapter or state chairman appropriate for their state that are listed on the States Contact page of our NSSAR Essay Website here.


Some Society or Chapter chairmen encourage the electronic submission of the essay.  When electronic submission is permitted, please confirm with the Society or Chapter what format the file should be in such as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx.), Rich Text Format (.rtf), or Portable Document Format (.pdf).

  1. Essays which meet the criteria in Rules 1-3 above will be accepted and judged equally on the following criteria:
    1. Historical accuracy
    2. Clarity of thought
    3. Organization and proven topic
    4. Grammar and spelling
    5. Documentation
  2. AWARDS: State and Chapter prizes vary. Please contact specific chairmen for more information.

National Society:

First place: $2,000; a winning recognition certificate and medal; $500 toward travel expenses and one night hotel stay for the winner and a chaperone at the SAR Annual Congress.

Second Place: $1,000

Third Place: $ 500

  1. The winning essay of the national contest will be submitted for publication in The SAR Magazine. Participants in this contest agree that their essay may be published in The SAR Magazine and on the NSSAR Knight Essay Contest webpage. Winning essay participants, on all levels, must supply a social security number or alien identification/green card number in order to receive their award.

  2. Participants in this contest agree that the interpretation of rules and decisions of the NSSAR and its judges must govern without reservation and that the decision of the Judges is final.  

    Questions regarding specific rules may be directed to the National Chairman.
    Michael J. Elston, Esq.
    P.O. Box 336
    Lorton VA 22199-0336
    E-mail:  elston [dot] saratgmail [dot] com