Suggestions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

The Society wishes to thank Russell Beland, Chris Doyle, Kyle Hendrickson, and Pat Myers for their help in assembling the archive that is linked to from this page.

THEMES: Below are links to subsets of these contests, which I call "themes". Most of the contests have been assigned one or more themes, which are indicated with trigraphs. It was not easy going through more than a thousand synposes to make these subjective assignments, so please let me know of any adjustments that should be made.


October 17, 1993 33  POST IMPRESSIONISM  Give us the opening lines of a big story from American history as it might have been written by someone whose work appears in The Washington Post. Maximum 100 words. You must choose one of three news stories: "Lincoln Assassinated," "Stock Market Crashes" or "Man Walks on Moon."  HIS   Text file | Post PDF  Stephen Licht  Text file | Post PDF 
July 17, 1994 73  LUNACY  Tell us what Neil Armstrong should have said upon stepping onto the moon's surface, instead of what he did, the greatest gaffe in the history of Historic Sayings.  HIS   Text file | Post PDF  Stuart Segal  Text file | Post PDF 
April 9, 1995 108  NEAR MISSES  Come up with the first drafts of great lines in history, entertainment or literature.  HIS CUL LIT   Text file  Joseph Romm  Text file 
November 19, 1995 140  WHAT IF YOU GIVE IT A TRY?  Come up with "What-If" scenarios and logical outcomes.  HIS   Text file  Russell Beland  Text file 
September 29, 1996 185  WONDERLUST  Come up with replacements for the Seven Wonders of the World. To qualify, an object must really exist, and be manmade and, in some way, awesome.  HIS   Text file  Don Maclean  Text file 
September 14, 1997 235  ROOTS  Make up historical explanations--they should be vaguely plausible--for the etymology of any term you wish. The term should be the punch line.  HIS WOR   Text file  Sue Lin Chong  Text file 
March 15, 1998 261  WHAT IF YOU GIVE IT A TRY II  Alter some crucial moment in history, and then tell us the likely outcome.  HIS   Text file | Post PDF  Andrew B. Gibson  Text file | Post PDF 
April 23, 2000 346
Greasy Kids Tough  Take any news event from history, recent or ancient, large or small, and rewrite it in 100 words or fewer as it might have appeared in KidsPost.  HIS   Text file  Mary Lou French  Text file 
November 26, 2000 377
Week MMDCXLIV  Provide a headline (and, if necessary, the first line of the text) for any article that will appear in The Washington Post on this day in the year 2050.  HEA HIS   Text file | Post PDF  Tom Witte  Text file | Post PDF 
August 26, 2001 416
Diff'rent Jokes  Describe how things might have been different if a famous person, living or dead, had had one of the provided conditions.  HIS   Text file  Drew Knoblauch  Text file 
February 1, 2004 543  Read Our Leaps  Fill any readers of The Washington Post on Sunday, Feb. 29, 2032, on: (a) the day's lead news story; (b) the highest-flying company and its business; (c) the best-selling self-help book; and/or (d) the day's winning Style Invitational entry.  WAS BUS LIT STY HIS   Text file  Chris Doyle  Text file 
August 8, 2004 570  Timeline Rhyme Lines  Produce colorful chronological couplets about some historical event. They must rhyme and be in good meter.  HIS POE   Text file  Russell Beland  Text file 
January 23, 2005 594  History Loves Company  Name an appropriate corporate sponsor for some historical event or for someone's life story.  BUS HIS   Text file  Jim Getz
Jennifer LaFleur 
Text file 
April 24, 2005 607  Contest Fodder Created!  Produce absurdly parochial views of historical events.  HIS   Text file  Anne Clark  Text file 
July 1, 2007 720  The Course of Humor Events  Sum up a historical event in a two-line rhyme or other clever and pithy epigram.  POE HIS   Text file  Chris Doyle  Text file 
October 27, 2007 737  No River, No Woods  Send us a funny parody of a well-known song, with lyrics that commemorate an occasion other than Christmas or Hanukkah.  POE HIS   Text file  Brendan Beary  Text file 
November 10, 2007 739  Lies, All Lies  Give us some humorous fictional revelation about a current or past political figure.  HIS POL TRI   Text file  Joel Knanishu  Text file 
March 29, 2008 758  Wrong Address  Using any of the words of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in whatever order you like, create your own passage.  HIS WOR   Text file  Barry Koch  Text file 
June 21, 2008 770  A Knack for Anachronism  Take a famous historical moment, literary passage, or movie scene and place it in an entirely different age.  HIS LIT MOV   Text file  Rick Haynes
Peter Metrinko 
Text file 
November 8, 2008 790  If Only!  Explain how the world would be different had some event not occurred.  POL HIS CUL   Text file | Post PDF  Chris Doyle  Text file | Post PDF 
February 7, 2009 803  The Pepys Show  Write a humorous diary or journal entry for someone, famous or not, for any point in history.  HIS   Text file  Jeff Brechlin  Text file 
December 5, 2009 846  Season's gratings  Write a brief (50 words or fewer) holiday letter from a personage from past or present, or from fiction.  HIS LIT   Text file  Peter Metrinko  Text file 
June 19, 2011 924  Doomed to repeat it  Create "Unreal Facts" about history.  HIS TRI   Text file  Judy Blanchard  Text file 
October 16, 2011 941  They don't say!  Give us a quote that a particular person, present or past, real or fictional, sooo wouldn't have said.  HIS   Text file  Larry Flynn  Text file 
November 13, 2011 945  Laugh-baked ideas  Cleverly depict a person, event or phenomenon of the 21st century real history as well as scenes from movies, books, videos, etc. using edible materials, and send us a photo of your creation.  PIX HIS MOV LIT   Text file | Post PDF  Alethea Dopart
Kevin Dopart 
Text file | Post PDF 
November 10, 2013 1046  Derive us crazy  Offer a bogus but funny explanation of how a particular expression originated.  HIS WOR   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Frank Osen  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
March 16, 2014 1064  HistoRebuffs  Alter some moment in history and tell us -- in no more than about 50 words -- the likely outcome.  HIS   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Gary Crockett
Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version (pub 4-13-14)
Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version (pub 4-27-14) 
April 26, 2015 1121  The an(n)als of civilization  Briefly describe some "bad day in history" -- you may be creative in what you classify as such -- and sum it up with a humorous heading. (Conversational textHIS   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Chris Doyle  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
February 7, 2016 1161  Give us four Pinocchios  Tell us some false "facts" about politicians, present or past. (Conversational textHIS POL   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Jeff Shirley  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
January 8, 2017 1209  Invented facts: A fictoid contest  Tell us a humorously untrue account of how a product or invention came to be, or got its name. (Conversational textHIS TRI   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Rob Huffman  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
January 22, 2017 1211  The best tweets in history  Write a stupidly disparaging tweet (140 characters or fewer, including spaces) about some laudable figure of past or present, true or fictional. (Conversational textHIS   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Gary Crockett  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
April 2, 2017 1221  Who's kidding whom?  Take two people from history, past or present, and tell what their child would be like  HIS   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Dave Matuskey  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
November 4, 2018 1304  All the muse that's fit to print  Present a "what if" scenario and explain its effect.  HIS CUL   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Jesse Frankovich  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version 
July 14, 2019 1340  Not-ables -- slightly alter a famous name  Slightly alter the name (make sure the original is obvious) of a famous personage -- past or present, real or fictional -- and describe the resulting nonpersonage, or offer a quote from that person, or both.  LET CUL HIS   Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version  Jonathan Jensen  Text file | Post PDF | Post e-version