A recent newspaper article, Students hunt for treasure in town records, caught my eye. I’m always interested in new ideas for getting our youth excited about researching ancestors and exploring history.
Often. though, such programs have struggled to be included in schools as part of a curriculum because of the challenges to how can best include children who are adopted, in foster care, or in other non-traditional circumstances. Researching the genealogy of a historical figure seems like a possible workable solution to those issues.
Have everyone research the identified figure using genealogical research techniques. It becomes a shared project not connected directly to anyone’s family.
I also enjoyed reading how the students actually visited the local town hall to look at original records! How many adults haven’t even done that! What a cool field trip idea.
The article concluded by saying …
“These people become real to them,” Kinsey-Warnock said. “They’re not just old dead people any more. It makes the children want to find out more, and they do the research on their own. They’re learning history in the best way, and they’re going to remember.”
I tell anyone who will listen that learning about history through researching people is my favorite method! It makes the people more real and in many ways, I find it makes the history more real when connected to people. I think when I was a child, if we had talked more about people and less about just dates and places, maybe I'd better remember some of that history I was taught!
As I research families (my own or for clients), I am constantly learning new-to-me history in a most fascinating way -- through the people involved in it! Seems like what works for me might also work for others.
Have your children, grandchildren, or just children you know, either via a school program, scout program, church program or via some other activity, been involved in a research project into a historical individual or a family member?
Editor’s Note: Previous Upfront with NGS posts about youth + genealogy -- UNC, Ancestry.com collaborate to create new history teaching guide -- Family History in the Classroom (2014), How Are We Exciting Young Genealogists? (2010)
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