Emma Lazarus Project: Poetry Contest

AJHS Temporarily Closed

In support of New York City's efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the American Jewish Historical Society will be temporarily closed. The health and safety of The American Jewish Historical Society’s staff and visitors is our top priority, and we are continuing to closely monitor the evolving COVID-19 Situation.  During this time all in person events will be cancelled or postponed, and the library and other facilities of the five partner organizations will be closed to the public. 

Our building is closed, but our staff, and the stories we work to preserve and share, continue to be here for you.  The stories from our archives will continue to be accessible through our online catalogue, new virtual program offerings, and and digital platforms. Please check social media for ongoing updates and virtual offerings. 


Poetry Contest

Just as Emma responded to the issues by writing a poem that addressed American identity, we invite you to write your own poem that speaks to your vision of America.

Beginning in September 2019, submissions to the nation-wide poetry contest will be accepted on a rolling basis. The poetry contest deadline has been extended to August 15, 2020. Winners will be announced in October of 2020.

If you could write a poem for the Statue of Liberty today, what would it say?

Submit Your Poem

In the Classroom

Emma’s story shows how even in complicated times, people can engage civically. Through engaging with this history, students will be prepared to develop their own voices on issues of the day. The culminating activity of The Emma Lazarus Project curriculum is to provide students with their own pedestal to share their thoughts and beliefs. The American Jewish Historical Society is hosting a National Poetry contest, which asks students to imagine themselves as 21st century Emma, following the prompt: “If you could write a poem for the Statue of Liberty today, what would it say?”

Winners in each category will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and be featured in an upcoming AJHS Film and publication. All submission will be preserved in the AJHS Archive alongside the collection of Emma Lazarus.

Download the Poetry Contest Guidelines