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The Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest Procedures

Insofar as possible the chapter, state or district contest should follow the procedures of the NSSAR Congress contest.  These procedures are known to the majority of our chairmen, but new chairmen may be unfamiliar with them.  The national procedures are as follows:

  • At the beginning of the program the rules are explained to the orators and the audience.
  • Before the contest begins, preferably in private conference with the chairman, the orators draw numbers to determine the speaking order.
  • All orators are introduced only by number
  • In giving the oration, at no time may the orator use notes or props.
  • There are at least three judges, all of whom are SARs in accordance with the 1985 NSSAR Congress action.  Prior to the contest, the chairman discusses the rules, procedures and judging sheets with the judges.  The judges are seated throughout the audience with their location unknown to the speakers.   The chairman acts neither as coach nor judge.
  • Before the first orator comes before the audience, the timer is introduced.   For the benefit of the orator, the signals to indicate five minutes and six minutes are described to the orators and the audience.  If the orator announces a title, timing does not begin until the oration itself begins.  The orator at the end of six minutes may complete his/her sentence.  If the orator begins the next sentence and/or continues, the timer records the excess time.   If the oration is less than five minutes, the timer records the time not used.
  • The chairman follows the manuscript.  The changing of a word or a sentence is understood, but if a substantial portion of the oration deviates from the manuscript, the chairman indicates this on the record.  The timer and chairman are seated together for recording purposes.  The one who is following the manuscript can and should prompt.  The timer notes these promptings on his record. 
  • When the contest is over the judges and timer have retired, the chairman introduces each orator either by name or number and asks the individual to comment on his/her activities, school, future plans, and any family members or support group persons that may be with them at the contest.
  • When the judges return, they are introduced.  The judging sheets and notes are the property of the SAR.  The winners are announced and presented with monetary awards and Olympic-size medals.  Some chapter, states, and districts give monetary awards along with Olympic-size medal for first place.  The medal is available for chapters, states and districts and can be purchased from the NSSAR Merchandise Department.  Check the merchandise catalog for details.