Some of my observations:
- Nothing warms my heart more than to see a student whip out his cell phone and call grandma to find out information and observe an extended meaningful conversation between them. This is an approved use of a cell phone in my class!
- In today's mobile society, families are often spread out and don't have (or take) the time to talk about their lives and pass on family stories. I'm certain many of my students have not had more than a superficial conversation with their grandparents. It makes me sad because I know a lot of stories from my grandparents' lives.
- Everyone can find information and stories. It was great to see students who thought there was nothing interesting in their family, find something special. Even ordinary people have interesting stories. The internet makes it easy to find information if you have some basic information on ancestors who lived in the early 20th century. Almost everyone can get that information on at least one branch of their family.
Some things my students found out
- My father was raised as a Mormon
- There were two Pillsbury families: "One brother founded the baking company and I'm descended from the other one"
- There's a historic house in Topsham that belonged to one of my ancestors
- My (how ever many) times great-grandfather designed the logo for Humpty Dumpty potato chips
- My mother's ancestor and my father's ancestor both fought for the Union at the same battle in the Civil War in different regiments and from different states.
- My Civil War ancestor survived one of the bloodiest battles of the war and then got a land grant in Maine where he broke his back in a fall while building his home.
- Hey, I'm related to Ms. Carter!
They discovered accused witches, artists, inventors, politicians and writers. Their origins were very diverse: Canada, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland and more that I can't remember.