Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Class Ideas - Family Tree Scavenger Hunt

DearREADERS,

Ol' Myrt here subscribes to a genealogy mailing lists that is currently discussing how to involve teenagers in family history research. These are my suggestions for a "visit to the local Family History Center."

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SET-UP:
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-- Send out individual "leaf" invitations, matching the design of the chocolate candies and the sheet cake.

-- Prepare 6-8 "workstations" throughout the Family History Center as detailed below.

-- Prepare a large 11x17 family group sheet poster and obtain a large black magic marker. A good form is located online for free at: <
http://www.ancestry.com/charts/ancchart.aspx>. Office supply stores can make the large photocopy for a small fee. Then use spray mount adhesive to affix the pedigree chart to a slightly larger piece of foam core or thick poster board.

-- Prepare "packets" for each participant including 1 pedigree chart, 1 family group sheet <
http://www.ancestry.com/charts/familysheet.aspx> and 1 pencil. Give one packet to each participant as they enter the room. Make a big deal about this. It’s a passport to climbing your family tree.

-- Provide 1 blank sheet of paper for each team.

-- Obtain a small dinner bell or a musical triangle to ring every 2 minutes during the scavenger hunt.

-- Be aware that the participants may be from families with step-parents and adopted parents. Don't force issues. We're just getting their feet wet.

-- Prepare small chocolate candies in leaf shapes, to give to the winning team. Then give one to each participant for good effort.

-- Prepare a sheet cake with a "Family Tree" image on it for all to enjoy at the end.

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5-MINUTE OPENING ACTIVITY
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This allows time for stragglers to arrive and get situated. Don't belabor this section. We want more emphasis on the "scavenger hunt" portion of the visit.

AT THE DOOR: Have someone hand each participant their "Family Tree Climbing" packet.

SIGN IN: Have each person use the 'sign-in' sheet with just their first and last name. Be sure they can see the "Family Tree" cake and invite them to be seated ASAP.

STATE: Today we're going to have a "Family Tree Scavenger Hunt." While we wait for everyone to get situated, let's start using a genealogist's tools - the pedigree chart. This is to list you, your parents and your grandparents.

DEMONSTRATE filling out a pedigree chart in super-size format. Bring out the large poster where you have the form of a pedigree chart ready to be filled in. Write on the form as you progress through the generations, using the following words marked by *stars.* Use the large black magic marker and make the letters of the first 2 generations inordinately large (about 3-4 inches tall) so the text can be read by anyone in the room. You might also draw lines over the pedigree chart connections between "You" and "Your Dad" and the same for "You" and "Your Mom" to emphasize the relationship.

1st GENERATION
*You*
Ask each participanmt to write his/her name, birth date and birthplace on the form.

2nd GENERATION
Your *Dad*
Your *Mom*


Ask each participant to write down the name of their parents, including their mother's name before she got married. [This teaches the concept of a maiden name. Tease and play with them and have fun by saying something like you get 2 brownie points if you know your dad or your mom's birth date (including birth year!) Most won't know yet, but it is fun.]

3rd GENERATION
Your *Dad's Dad*
Your *Dad's Mother*
Your *Mom's Dad*
Your *Mom's Mother*
Ask the participants to write down the names of all four grandparents including the grandmother's official names before they got married. Explain that nicknames such as Gramma Sue or Nana and Papa aren't what we're looking for here.

Mention that the "Pedigree Chart" is to list your parents, grandparents & great-grandparents, etc.

Mention that the "Family Group Sheet" is to list each set of parents with each of their children. However, we won't take time today to complete a family group sheet.

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BUILD MORE INTEREST
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STATE: we're almost ready for our scavenger hunt.

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EXPLAIN
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Tell them that this is what genealogists do -- they work to fill in their pedigree chart.
When they mention they don't know a maiden name or something, tell them they can ask their parents. Genealogists start out by asking everyone what they know about their family history.

[Bring things down to a more quiet state.]

STATE: It is most likely that your parents won't be able to recite 6-8 generations back to the US Revolutionary War time period. THAT is why people use Family History Centers -- to locate documents usually on microfilm, from the churches and courthouses where their ancestors once lived, going as far in some cases as the early 1500s.

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MATH CHALLENGE
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If there are 25 years for each generation (the average time between parents and children) then how many generations is it from the year 2000 back to the those early records from the year 1500?
500 years/25 = 20 generations

[In a dramatic gesutre, give the first person with the correct answer a chocolate "leaf"]

STATE: It is nearly impossible, without a written record, for you to go 20 generations back on your pedigree chart. If you are lucky and have a long scroll with all 20 generations listen then you are set. Otherwise you'll have to do what most people do -- work through old documents (usually on microfilm) that mention your ancestors' by name, birth date, death date, etc. Since this information isn't written down in one place, it takes people years to do their family history.
However, it must not be too boring, or people wouldn't spend so much time climbing their family trees. I think finding the clues in all sorts of old documents, courthouses, dusty church records, and cemeteries is what is so FUN about doing genealogy. Its takes a lot of detective work to get the job done!

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DESCRIBE THE SETTING
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Explain that they are sitting in a Family History Center, one of 4,000 throughout the world that are small branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The FHL has nearly 3 million rolls of microfilm of old documents from over 110 countries throughout the world. Explain that genealogists, regardless of their religious affiliation, recognize the FHL as arguably the largest single collection of genealogical material in the world.

Then mention that obviously all 3 million rolls of microfilm won't fit in this small room. Instead, people just order in the microfilm they hope will have clues about their ancestor who once lived in Germany, France, Ireland, or wherever.

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SCAVENGER HUNT
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RING THE BELL & say OK, its time for our "Family Tree Scavenger Hunt."

Explain that you have set up the room with microfilm, microfiche and computers using the actual materials other genealogists are currently using "right here in this family history center." The purpose is to let you see the different records people use to find out who their ancestors are, dating back into the 1500 and 1600s.

Explain they will work as teams to use the items at each workstation to complete a question posted on the workstation. Explain that in some archives and libraries, particularly when looking at old parchments and original documents, all you can take into the room is a pencil and a piece of paper. So each time will only use 1 sheet of paper and a pencil during the scavenger hunt.

[Count off the participants in random groups, so this isn't a cliquish thing.]

Explain they will have 2 minutes at each workstation to answer each question. Tell them the answers are readily visible, at each workstation, but they may have to decipher old handwriting for clues.

IDEAS FOR WORKSTATIONS & POSSIBLE QUESTIONS (to be set up before participants arrive.)

1 - MICROFILM: Census record [Put on a roll, and find a page with an interesting name or occupation.] Then post the question "What is John Doe's age and occupation in the 1910 US Census for Clinton County, Missouri?" [Change the identifying info to fit your census microfilm page.]

2 - MICROFILM: Church record (christening or ??) [Put on a roll, and find a page where the participants will have to scroll down the page with their eyes to find an entry for the baby.] Possible Question "Who are listed as parents of baby Edward Stevens who was christened on 15 June 1821?"

3 - INTERNET: EllisIslandRecords.org Possible Question "What are the names of the people listed after Mary Parson on the Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Record for

4 - MICROFICHE: (Marriage Record Index) Possible Question "Who was the bride of James Taylor, married on 2 Jan 1766?"

5 - ATLAS: Ask to list the countries that adjoin Austria in the 1932 Atlas at your center.

6 - COMPUTER: PAF Program Ask "what does PAF stand for?" Bonus Question: Where does one go in PAF to print a report? (The file menu.)

7 - PRINTED RESEARCH OUTLINE (Pick a state, and then ask the following question.) When did vital records began to be kept?

8 - COMPUTER: 1880 US Census [Pick a name, and show the "individual record" view, with the "view original image at Ancestry.com" logo clearly showing.] From the 1880 Census index at www.FamilySearch.org website, how many clicks before the full census image came up at Ancestry.com? [This demonstrates the need to use a printed index as a clue, but its more important to get to the original document.]

9 - THE HANDYBOOK FOR GENEALOGISTS - [Have the book open to North Carolina.] "What date was Caswell County, North Carolina created? Bonus Question: "What is the parent county from which Caswell County was organized?"

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CONCLUSION
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After each team has visited each workstation, gather the group together to go over the answers.
Have an assistant give each participant a "leaf" chocolate while you go over the answers. Be sure to have someone keep score. The winning team receives an additional "leaf" chocolate.

Tell everyone you hope they enjoyed the "Family Tree Scavenger Hunt." It is kind of amazing the variety of old documents genealogists in our own neighborhood are using to climb their family trees. We have learned a lot about the rudiments of genealogy. I know you are busy with school, and some of you have part time jobs, so doing family history work might not bee on the front burner for you right now. However, we hope you enjoyed this visit to the family history center. We want you to understand a bit more about what people do when they use this wonderful branch of the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. When the time is right, and you decide you want to try climbing your family tree, we trust you will feel comfortable returning to the this or any other family history center. Just remember, your ancestors are waiting for you!

Now, let's have some of that cake!

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com

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