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  • Genealogy for the Next Generation

  • [Children] who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges.
    —Psychologist Sara Duke (

    mother and son_2012

    Genealogy gives everyone in the family a reason to come together, share photos, listen to stories, and remember those who came before us.

    Getting children and teenagers interested in learning about the past is no small feat. Yet, they are our next generation of family history “keepers” and “seekers.” It is important to engage them in thinking about previous generations while their oldest relatives are still alive. Genealogical research teaches many lessons and skills that children can put to great use both in school and when trying to understand the world we live in today. It can also be important to their development into inquisitive, self-assured, thoughtful, grounded, and empowered adults.

    What can children and teenagers gain from genealogical work?

    • Improved critical thinking skills as they compare the various documents and stories they find
    • Understanding of primary and secondary sources
    • A deeper appreciation of both American and world history
    • Enhanced understanding of current events and how they relate to history
    • Stronger connection to family
    • Improved research, writing, speaking, and storytelling skills

    Getting Started

    Help guide your children or students through these simple steps to discovering their ancestors:

    Step 1 - Gather information

    Talk to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members as you work to fill out your family tree. Gather information on birth, marriage, and death dates as well as the places where each event occurred (remember to get the city and state!).

    Step 2 - Begin research

    Use and other websites to begin searching for information relating to your family. Keep track of where you have searched and what information you find (or don't find).

    Step 3 - Identify missing information and ask more questions

    Pick an individual or family who you would like to know more about. Some possible questions are:

    • What did they do for a living?
    • Where did they go to school?
    • Did they serve in the military?
    • When did my family immigrate to the United States?
    • Did they live near other family members?

    Step 4 - Locate and research potential sources of information

    Visit a library, such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts, or your local library to look for answers to your questions.

    Step 5 - Don’t give up!

    Often research leads us to more questions about our ancestors. Keep researching, asking questions, and learning new strategies for discovering information about your ancestors.

    Activities, Resources, and Templates:

    Family zone_2012Family Tree
    A Bibliography of Resources for Kids and Families
    Make Ancestral Ornaments!

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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