Family History Project Submit Assignment

Have you ever asked your parents or grandparents what life was like for them when they were young? Have you ever asked a veteran about his or her wartime experiences? Have you ever told a story from your own past to someone younger than you? If so, then you have participated in the creation of oral histories.

One way for students to “do” the past as historians is to research their family’s past. Researching family history helps students create context for studying the past and helps students develop a sense of place in the present. In addition, a family history project can help foster connections with students’ guardians at home and help us, as teachers, better understand our students’ backgrounds. A student genealogy project is certainly not a new idea, but new online tools make it easier than ever to uncover family records and connect distant relatives.

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PURPOSE:  Both Arnold Toynbee and noted southern historian C. Vann Woodward suggest that “it is morally desirable to recognize that ‘history [has] happened to my people in my part of the world.’” Given this assertion, you will research your family history and make connections to events we have studied in HIST 1301/HIST 1302. This assignment will give you an opportunity to reflect on your personal and familial history and the impact American history has had on the family.

OVERVIEW:  The student will analysis primary and secondary sources that relate to United States history and how their family history fits into the narrative.  You will create a digital product that explains your family history. You will examine at least three generations (including your own) of your family’s history and how it impacts you today.  Focus on incorporating the elements of historical events discussed in the course.  Consider interviewing a family member or two about their personal histories in order to complete this assignment.

While some students feel uneasy about discussing their family history publicly, many other students enjoy the process of reconstructing their familial roots. Genealogy offers an effective way for students to put a face on the past. A genealogical approach not only allows students to undertake research about a subject they passionately care about, it also allows them to see how shifts in their family’s naming patterns, marriage patterns, and fertility and mortality rates mirror broader social and demographic transformations.

Genealogical databases available on the Internet make it easy to connect to families in the past.

Immigration History Research Center: < ihrc/family.htm>;

and National Archives and Records Administration Genealogy Page: < genindex.html>.

These web sites offer a useful starting point, providing links to genealogy-related databases and step-by-step guides to genealogical research.

OBJECTIVES:  After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Weigh the relative influence of family upbringing, community values, genetic inheritance, and individual choice in an individual’s sense of identity.
  • Theorize on why genealogy is more important to some individuals than others.
  • Discuss the significance of narrative in family history and suggest why it is so subject to embellishment and/or romanticization.
  • Explain why certain family ancestry is more easily traced—either by traditional or technological methods—than others.
  • Discuss how traditions are created, how they evolve, and how they sometimes come to be rejected.

Instructions for assignment click here



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National Genealogy Society       (Links to an external site.)

Family Search (Links to an external site.)

National Archives (Links to an external site.)

The United States Census Bureau (Links to an external site.)

PBS HIstory Detectives-Genealogy (Links to an external site.) (watch the video and review the related content)

Freedmen’s Bureau (Links to an external site.)

Veteran’s History Project (Links to an external site.)

Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories (Links to an external site.)

Harris County Marriage License Database  (Links to an external site.)

Fort Bend County Public Library (Links to an external site.)

Houston Public Library Geneaology Resources (Links to an external site.)

Ancestors birth dates


Primary Sources:  photographs, newspaper articles, school yearbooks, identification, government docuemnts, census records, marriage licenses, birth certificate, death certificate, voting records, property records, etc.

Grading Rubric:

primary sources-25 points

family tree chart-10 points

presentation with audio voiceover-40 points

historical context of family-25 points

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