FHE Junior Leandra Swanson first competed in the West Michigan Historical Competition at Grand Valley State University where she was chosen as a State Finalist. She then competed at the state level against several hundred other students from around Michigan. She was chosen as the National Alternate with the chance to potentially represent Michigan at the National Competition in Washington DC (in the event the chosen State Champion was unable to fulfill obligations.)
Her presentation “Radium Girls” reviewed the tragic, horrifying true story of young women who received radiation poisoning after they were hired to paint watch dials with a dangerous radioactive luminescent paint. More than 30 women died and countless others were permanently injured with many health problems because of the radioactive exposure. The company denied their watches and the paint were the cause of the problems and fought all claims. They were able to keep selling many watches and make significant profits throughout the early 1920’s and 30’s. However, the girls fought back and won a successful lawsuit which finally made the company admit guilt and begin reparations to the victims of their deceit.