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Rumbaugh Oration Contest

The Joseph S. Rumbaugh
Historical Oration Contest

The Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest will be conducted at the Chapter, State and National levels. The contest is open to all students of the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes (Grades 9 - 12) in the public, parochial, private and home schools within the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Society SAR.  The student must present an original speech with the topic based on original research and deal with an event, person, philosophy or ideal associated with the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, or the framing of the United States Constitution as defined by the SAR for each year.

The Oration

The oration is to be five to six minutes in length and should be based on a compelling Revolutionary War subject that is directly related to current national issues and patriotism.  Evidence of historical research and creative presentation are also important.  The oration will be judged based upon its:

·        Composition

·        Delivery

·        Significance

·        Historical accuracy and relevance

The oration must be given from memory, without the use of notes or props.  The subject of the oration shall deal with an event, a personality, or a document pertaining to the Revolutionary War.  Successful candidates will clearly communicate the relevance of their subject to the present day.

The National Society (NSSAR) Contest

The NSSAR offers scholarships or cash awards for the top winners:

·        The National First Place Winner receives $6,000

·        The 2nd Place Runner-up receives $3,000

·        The 3rd Place Runner-up receives $2,000.

·        Each also receives an Olympic-sized medal.

·        All other finalists (4th through 6th Place runners-up) are awarded $400.

·        All other national contestants receive $200.

The National Society Contest will be held during the 2020 SAR National Congress to be held in Richmond, Virginia from 9-15 July 2020.

Pennsylvania Society (PASSAR) Contest

There are 23 active SAR chapters in Pennsylvania.  Participants in the PASSAR competition will be made up of the winning contestants from participating chapters plus applicants who are the single applicant from a chapter, thus no competition is called for.

The winner of the PASSAR contest will receive a silver medallion, a $500 cash award, and will qualify to participate at the NSSAR contest.  PASSAR will reimburse up to $500 in travel expenses for the applicant and one parent to attend the national competition in Costa Mesa.  Second- and third-place awards have been set at $200 and $100.

The PASSAR Contest is scheduled to be held in the Harrisburg Area on Date TBD.

Local Chapter Contests

Local chapters are currently considering their involvement in the Rumbaugh Oration Contest.  You can locate your local chapter by going to the PASSAR Chapters page.  

The local contests will be run like the NSSAR contest, but at a smaller scale, adjusting as appropriate for the number of participants.  The winners of chapter contests will receive a bronze medallion and will qualify to compete at the PASSAR contest.  Cash awards are at the discretion of the sponsoring chapter.

Chapter contests will be held in March 2020.

Submissions to the chapters should be made before established due dates.  Suggested due date for contestants should be by Monday 9 March 2020. (in-hand or postmark), and will include:

·         Contestant Entry Form * (p. 1)

·         Biographical Sketch * (p. 2)

·         Copy of Contestant’s Oration

·         Photograph (a snapshot will work)

·         Youth Contest Release Form *

* You can obtain these forms by clicking on the links above.

Calendar for 2020 Activities

     March 28 -   Recommended final date for Chapter contests

     April 1 -       Chapter Winners due to Bill Baker, PASSAR Rumbaugh Coordinator

     TBD      -     SAR Pennsylvania Contest in Harrisburg

     July 9-15 -   SAR National Congress in Richmond, VA

For PASSAR Compatriots:

Helpful Suggestions for locating viable Contestants:

·        Contact local school Speech Teachers and Debate Team Coaches directly as well as other community and educational sources.

·        Focus on target High Schools in your Chapter’s area.  Please see the attached FILE.

·        Local DAR or newspapers may have contacts that will aid you in acquiring contestants.


Where a chapter has two or three applicants, it is recommended to consider  opportunities to combine your competition with another chapter to be more efficient in using Judges.  Each chapter would still need to identify their chapter’s winner.  And if there is only one applicant for a chapter, it is recommended to hold an event, or join another chapter, to give your applicant some experience in the SAR oration process/procedures.



For further information and assistance for Pennsylvania applicants, please contact the PASSAR Rumbaugh Oration coordinator:




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