All American families have stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Some important roles of the older generations are to retell family stories that ground their descendants in the past, while serving as a springboard to their future. Tracing one’s genealogy is an opportunity to explore firsthand the impact your ancestor’s oral history has made in your life. Students will delineate the reasons their ancestors came to America at any given point in history, the risks they took in leaving their foreign lands, and the realities of their personal versions of the American Dream. Although each student's research will take them in a different ethnic direction, special emphasis will be placed on the issues of African-American families.
This course will ask the student to listen to their ancestor’s stories and then critically assess their merit through systematic exploration of family history databases. Students will use genealogical websites, family history centers, local libraries, historical societies, and cemeteries to search for the truth; all the while documenting the family's lineage with each new piece of the puzzle. Some lucky students may even be able to “Leap the Ocean” in just three weeks, but that is particularly difficult even with a strategy, careful research, and patience!