Records at Risk << Teacher's Guide <<
| Objectives |
Main Idea No.1 |
Main Idea No.2 |
Main Idea No.3 |
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IN THIS LESSON, YOU'LL
- RECORD your place in history
- LEARN how to prove your place in history
- DISCOVER the fragility of records, your key source for clues to the past
This lesson includes opportunities for class discussion, a video presentation and an online activity. Vocabulary words are included at the end of the lesson, though not specifically brought into the lesson in the form of an assignment. Resulting measurable assignments include the creation of a timeline and a writing sample from a historical figure's point of view. While the lesson's main ideas logically build on one another, the activities and assignments suggested can be adapted or omitted according to your needs.
MAIN IDEA NO.1
EVERY PERSON IS A PART OF HISTORY
Why do you have your own last name, and not someone else's? Why do you speak the language you speak? Why is your hair brown, or blonde, or red? The answers to these questions have to do with events that happened in the lives of the people who came before you. Your ancestors. Perhaps your ancestors didn't realize that the choices they made would effect so many people. Just by living their lives, they created history.
What about you? What choices do you make every day that will affect your children, and your grandchildren? You, too, are creating history, even as you live it.
When we chart history, we often use a timeline. A timeline helps us see when events happened in a person's life. You can create a timeline for your ancestors, but you probably don't know much about them yet. Perhaps you'd better start with yourself first.
CREATE a timeline for your own life. It can take any form and be as artistic as you like, but should include major events, dates, and places. Major events might include learning to ride a bike, moving to another state or house, the birth of a stepbrother or a favorite Christmas.
DISCUSS your timeline with your friends or classmates. Find out about the interesting events in their lives and share some of your memories with them.
MAIN IDEA NO.2
PROVE IT WITH RECORDS
If you had to prove an event on your timeline happened to you, what would you use to prove it?
Examples: A receipt from the new bike, school records could that show you attended school in one state and moved
to another, baby pictures of your stepbrother, memories of family who were with you on your favorite Christmas.
Your ancestors also had birthdays, holidays and school days. They did many of the same things you do. Later in their
lives, they married and had children. Some of them hunted for gold, others worked in mills, still others left their homelands
to make a new life in America.
If you had to prove your ancestors had these experiences, that they actually lived, how would you do it?
Well, you would become a family history detective. You would look for clues to their lives in the things they left behind.
You'd use records, photographs, witnesses, artifacts-anything you could get your hands on that would tell you more
MAIN IDEA NO.3
RECORDS ARE HISTORY'S BEST STORYTELLERS.
While there are many sources that can tell you more about how a person lived or where an event happened, one of the
most helpful sources is records. Records are simply written details about a life event.
But records are fragile. Just think of how easy it is to lose your homework! Do you know where your birth certificate is?
What about your first grade report card?
VIEW ANCESTORS EPISODE 201: "RECORDS AT RISK"
ANCESTORS: RECORDS AT RISK explores the way the records can be destroyed and looks at the heroic efforts by many people around the world who are working to preserve them. You'll see how records are kept and stored through microfilming efforts at the National Archives. You'll meet a Russian genealogist who is trying to reconstruct genealogies destroyed in the Bolshevik Revolution and visit the Shoah Visual History Foundation, where the memories of Holocaust survivors are being preserved.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What are some of the ways records can be destroyed?
Historically, governments have destroyed records.
How did the communist regime in the former Soviet Union destroy family records?
Why is the Shoah Visual History Foundation so intent on gathering and preserving memories of the Holocaust?
What are some of the feelings people have when they lose records that tell about their families?
What are some of the ways records can be preserved?
Because records can be so easily destroyed or lost, each one is precious. Records tell the stories of the past.
Take a look at the following link and get an idea about the many different kinds of records that have been created throughout history.
This page, created by Kentucky genealogists Jake and Jo Thiessens, includes text from wills, letters and property inventories. Note the fact that before the Civil War, slaves were considered property and as such, were given to family members the way furniture or cattle might be passed on in a will. Also note the Woodford Co., KY, Circuit Book C., p. 65 record. What do the Theissens' note happened to the original record?
Choose a record that interests you and, from the clues found in the record, write a diary entry, recording the events of the day as if you were one of the people named in the record. You might write from the point of view of the slave, the slave owner or the person receiving the slave. Then imagine life after the end of the Civil War and write a second diary entry. How have things changed? What are the freed slave's plans for the future? How does the slave owner feel about this new world he now finds himself in?
Similar writing opportunities can be created using the records found at:
www.accessgenealogy.com/military/ww1/draft.htm (war records)
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED AND . . .
You've seen how fragile records can be, but also learned that they are the best way of finding out your family's history. You know now that many records have survived, and they may contain interesting clues to your family story.
. . . WHAT'S NEXT?
But believe it or not, some of the best clues aren't in a library or an archive. They're right in your own family. In the next lesson, you'll learn how to uncover these clues that can only be found at home. And you'll meet a woman who, though she lives in America, found a journal that told of her family story in Ireland.
Ancestor: A person from whom one is descended.
Genealogy: The science of studying about our ancestors, through names, dates and events.
Family History: Another name for genealogy that goes beyond getting the names and dates of ancestors. Family historians try to find out life stories and little, interesting details about their ancestors, such as what color of eyes they had, or what kind of jobs they worked.
Generation: The average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their children (approximately twenty to twenty-five years).
Timeline: A way of charting historical events and dates, often including places.
Record: A written account of a very important life event such as birth, marriage or death.