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HIS 122: The U.S. Since 1865, Dr. Don Fisher: Family History Project

Your Assignment

Your primary genealogical task is to identify your immediate ancestors: two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, and perhaps sixteen great great grandparents if possible. You should find out the names of as many of these people as possible in the first 2-3 weeks of the semester. Hopefully, these names will take you to spouses, children and other extended family members. You may soon realize that it is unlikely that you will discover the names of the majority of your immediate ancestors; do the best you can.

Since this paper is not simply a genealogy exercise, it is critical that you find broader themes to connect to your family research. In short, you need to figure out which historical themes addressed in our textbook and lectures are relevant to your particular family’s story.

  • If, for instance, you find that most of your father’s side of the family is descended from Italian immigrants, then you will need to discuss the broader contours of Italian emigration to America and the experiences of Italian-Americans in general.
  • If you have several members of your family who served in the military during times of war, you should discuss the larger operational aspects of these conflicts.
  • If you had ancestors who moved from the countryside to a city, be sure to explore the larger trend of urbanization.
  • If you or your parents recently moved to this country, you should examine the history of why the people of your country of origin moved to the United States. What encouraged them to leave their home country and what attracted them to the U.S.?

Connecting your ancestors to these broader storylines is the essence of the paper. Basically, you are situating your family’s story in the context of the history of the United States since 1865.

Selected Books

Family Tree Templates

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