Welcome to the website of the Michael E. Patten Award, awarded each year on Maryland History Day. The award is presented by Maryland Humanities and made possible through a donation from The Patten Family.

About the Award

The Michael E. Patten Award for the Best Use of Primary Sources was created to honor the memory of a young man who had a keen interest in history. The award is sponsored by Maryland Humanities and made possible through a donation from Mike Patten's family. It is presented as one of the special awards at the Maryland History Day's awards ceremony. Individuals are chosen from the Senior Division from a public school. The winning student (or students) receives a check for $250.00 and a check for $250.00 is presented to the media center of that student's school. A copy of American Brutus: John Willkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiricies by Michael W. Kauffman, Mike Patten's brother-in-law, is also presented to the media center.

About Michael E. Patten

On June 10 2001, Mike and his friend, Lea Anne Brown, were returning home after spending an evening with friends in Washington D.C. when they became victims of a random attack, ending in the brutal murder of both young people. Mike was 29 and Lea Anne was 24. When they stopped, five men who had been on a crime spree all evening, surrounded their car and forced them out. Mike and Lea Anne were beaten and shot multiple times. For this horrible crime, the robbers got $30 from Mike and $25 from Lea Anne.

Mike Patten had graduated from the Prince George's Community College with a major in history. He was particularly interested in WWII and the Civil War. At the time of his death, he was working at Riggs Bank and continuing his studies at the University of Maryland. In the fall before his death, he had traveled with a friend to visit Normandy and other places in Europe related to WWII. At one time, Mike had played a part in a documentary for the History Channel filmed at Ford's Theatre on the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.


Left to Right: Mike, Mike and his friend in England, Mike and Lea Anne Brown

Because of Mike's association and volunteer work with the Surratt House Museum of Clinton, Maryland, friends made donations to The Surratt Society in his memory. Mr. Gene Thomas, a former teacher from Wisconsin, made a large donation yearly with the stipulation that it be used in a significant way to honor Mike. It was decided to create a special award to recognize students who showed knowledge of the importance of using primary sources when researching their projects. Through the generosity of Mr. Thomas, the Society sponsored the special award for several years. After that, Mike's family decided to continue the sponsorship as a way of recognizing the hard work of young students and as a way of continuing to honor Mike's memory.

Former Winners

Congratulations to these students for their fine work!

2018 Student: Claire Wayner
Topic: Flight to Extinction: The Conflict between American Progress and the Passenger Pidgeon
Category: Documentary
School: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
City: Baltimore City
Teacher: Maureen O'Neill

2017 Students: Chris Pondoc and Jamie Roan
Topic: The Inability to Take a Stand: The Navajo Nation and the Need for Uranium
Category: Website
School: Frederick High School
County: Frederick County
Teacher: Beth Strakonsky

2016 Student: Cody Pfeiffer
Topic: Exploration of Puerto Rico
Category: Performance
School: Queen Anne's County High School
County: Queen Anne's County
Teacher: John Haines

2015 Student: Ankit Sheth
Topic: Jawaharlarl Nehru: The Public Face of Diplomacy, but the Private Face of Division
Category: Performance
School: Poolesville High School
County: Montgomery County
Teacher: Daniel McKenna

2014 Student: Carrie Pritt, Alayna Stepp
Topic: Life Behind A Wall: The Denial of Rights in Communist East Germany
Category: Performance
School: Frederick Homeschoolers
County: Frederick County
Teacher: Christine Pritt

2013 Student: Haley Crane
Topic: Women Working During WWII
Category: Senior Individual Exhibit
School: Howard High School
County: Howard County
Teacher: Danelle Brennan

2012 Students: Seth Henry and Mikal Walcott
Topic: At the Heart of the Haitian Revolution: How Slaves Abolished a World Order
Category: Group Documentary
School: Reservoir High School
County: Howard County
Teacher: Jennifer Coker

2011 Student: Michael Keen
Topic: Lost Opportunities for Peace: Vietnam, 1945-1950
Category: Paper
School: Homeschool
County: Montgomery County
Teacher: Christine Keen

2010 Students: Anne Blonder and Max Cushner
Topic: Tin Lizzie: The Ford Model T's Road to Automobile Revolution
Category: Senior Group Documentary
School: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
City: Baltimore City
Teacher: Dennis Jutras

Useful Links: Maryland History Day WebsiteMaryland HumanitiesSurratt House MuseumDeath of Lincoln48 Hours EpisodeMaryland Crime Victims Resource Center