This assignment asks you to connect your family’s past or the experiences of individuals to the major themes of
this course. You may choose to explore many family members over several generations, or select one or two ancestors to study in a narrower time period. In lieu of conducting a study of your own family, you may research someone else’s family or others who have taken up residence in the US.
You are expected to think and write as historians; to place particular aspects of your subject’s past into historical context. It is important to note that our ancestors (even parents) are not people just like us. They need to be understood in the context of their own times and seen as having values and ambitions different from our own. The purpose of this assignment is not to generate family histories, biographies, or genealogies by themselves. Each should also develop themes that link family members or individual experiences to the broader issues in the history of this period under examination.
You will rely heavily, but not solely, upon oral interviews for much of your information. You are also required to use other materials (i.e. letters, old newspapers, websites, course readings) that connect these individuals’ lives to particular events. In most cases your interviews should be with individuals who have personal experiences with the themes of this course. While collecting information, pay particular attention to: date and place of birth; ethnic origin; places of residence; occupation; religion; affiliations and associations. When conducting interviews, you may want to consider using a tape recorder or at the very least taking notes. Remember though, to respect the privacy and wishes of others during the interview process.
This assignment consists of three parts:
1) name(s) of family members you have chosen to write about, and explanation of their relationship to each other and to you. In some cases you may have only one name. Others may have two or more.
2) a paragraph on each of the people you have chosen to research. The format of each paragraph should look something like this:
“Ella Dacheler Beach (my grandmother). Ella was born in 1910. Her parents were Russian-German, who immigrated to the US shortly before Ella was born. She originally lived in Indiana, but moved to Eastern Washington with her husband Roy in the late 1920s. She was a cook in a mining camp for a while. When Roy went bankrupt during the Great Depression, they moved to Seattle. In the 1940s Ella stopped working and became a housewife. Ella gave birth to my mother in 1947. She died in 1988. Ella was a life-long Lutheran and Republican, and was active in her church.”
3) the main part of the assignment is to draw connections between course themes and your research in a 1200-1500 word analytical paper. Your paper should explain ways in which your ancestor(s) either fit or did not fit into gendered patterns of family responsibilities, education, employment, social and community relations, political participation, popular culture, etc.
Submit all three parts of your research no later than March 15th. Note: research and writing for this project should commence during week two and continue throughout the quarter. You are encouraged to consult with me (via messages, text, or phone) during this process.
Late papers will be penalized 10 points per day late.